This is more or less what the inside of my head has felt like since late Wednesday… my sinuses are a phenomenon of nature…
But I made it back from Paris in one piece, and my experience in the last few days has caused me to think at length about what can be done about the risk of becoming ill when you’re a long way away from home.
First, I think that we have to all accept that it’s a very real possibility. The change in time zones, climates, length of day, food, water, and air quality can all send your systems into disruption, and one opportunistic little virus, bacteria or other malicious organism can wreck you… Realistically, travel might the time that we are most likely to become ill!
So, a smart woman would plan ahead, at least a little bit. The most obvious thing to be certain of is to carry with you a certain minimum number of “over the counter” medications – a pain reliever, something to aid sleep, a cold treatment, and an anti-diarrhea medicine. You skip that last one at your own peril… If there’s anything particular that you know you like, this is the time to portion our a 2 or 3 day supply and make sure that you pack it!
Secondly, think about what you might want with you that will make you more comfortable in your hotel room. I’m thinking about things like this:
I didn’t take a hot water bottle with me this trip, because I don’t get so cold that I can’t get the bed warmed up on my own. I DO, however, always travel with a silk pillow case; I use them because they (theoretically) keep my hair from becoming as tangled as it otherwise might, and because now I’m accustomed to the coolness and softness. If you normally use a CPAP, maybe it’s time to invest in a travel version. And if you’re not the type to rinse out your small garments and hang them in your hotel room, a small personal humidifier might go a LONG way toward feeling more comfortable.
And if you have any sense at all that you’re starting to feel bad, make certain to get the biggest bottle of water you can carry, as well as a couple of pieces of fruit, and take them back to your room. Sometimes dehydration is the culprit in a lot of illnesses, and a piece of fruit might be all that you need in the middle of the night to settle your stomach and your jet-lagged nerves…
But what about that worst-case scenario? You’re really ill…
First off, don’t try to keep it a secret from your travel companions. They won’t thank you for dragging yourself like a martyr through sight-seeing when you’d really rather be back in the hotel sleeping. And they are probably more than willing to do all kinds of things that will be helpful to you. Let them.
Secondly, don’t discount the idea of having a doctor come to the hotel to see you. House calls are very common outside the US, especially to hotels. I remember back in the very first days of the 21st century, I had a doctor come (at 2 a.m.!!!) to me in a hotel on the Lido in Venice. $27… 50,000 lira, which was SUCH a deal. And a lovely woman, who gave me a shot immediately, and wrote prescriptions, and gave detailed instructions, and wrote out the names of the things she said my friend needed to buy for me – in Italian – so that shopping would be easier. Amazing. I know that Paris has a very good visiting doctor service, and I imagine that your hotel or a pharmacist can help you find someone to come take care of you.
And lastly, consider staying a couple of days longer, in order to recover before flying or traveling. Especially if you’re having sinus issues, especially if you’re flying, this might be the only logical choice. This is why you don’t “max out” your credit card for a trip, and why you don’t take your last hour of vacation. Your hotel will almost certainly be lovely and helpful in accommodating you, either right where you are, or very close by. The airlines will be obnoxious and greedy about your changes, but you have to think of yourself in this case.
This might be an opportune time to really grasp the concept of sunk cost. A Sunk Cost, in economic terms (and in the real world) means that you’ve spent money on something that isn’t going to come back to you, no matter what. You have to make your decisions for the future with the assumption that the money is gone, and what matters is your quality of life.
It’s like this: you have tickets for a museum tour tomorrow. You’re sicker than 3 dogs. The tickets can’t be changed, nor refunded. Here’s your equation:
Let’s all of us, right now, accept that we’re not going to “get our money’s worth” out of anything that we do or see when we’re ill. Yes, the money is gone. But they money can be gone, and you can have a dreadful day (and possibly spoil it for your companions), or you can be out the money and get some rest. Which one is smarter?
The museum will be there next time!
Yes, I’m beginning to feel better. For the rest of the week I’m going to share with you what I saw in Paris last week. Even having had this hideous cold, it was a glorious trip, and I would do it again!