Tuesday, January 11, 2005

You can't take me anywhere.

I shamelessly and entirely stole this post idea from E.Spat. Her recent post about travel horror stories and superfluous vomit reminded me of my own worst travel tale and I felt compelled to share. Some of you have heard this before and I guarantee I won't tell it as elequently as E.S. told hers. You'll deal.

When I was in college, I took a trip with my parents, my brother and our good friends and their son out to Arizona and Las Vegas. We flew out on the 4th of July, when the temp in Indiana was in the 90s. Something was wrong with our plane and they couldn't turn on the electricity, so for an hour we sat at the gate stewing in our own sweat and smelling the rotting sandwhiches we were handed as we boarded. They finally let us get off and wait as they tried to jump start the plane. Those were their exact words. And stupidly, we got back on once they jumped it and were treated to an inflight movie of Titanic. Always a great choice when your own death is looming over your head.

We get to Phoenix, spend a few uneventful days there, and then drive down to Tucson. Our first night there, we ate at some cowboy steakhouse, and I dined on an old favorite; country fried steak. Only I was about halfway through my dinner, I cut into the steak and it started bleeding all over the plate. Now I'm the type of person who has to have a regular steak well done, and for those not familiar, this type of steak is not one that can be served rare. I should have known then that I was in trouble.

The next day we traveled to the biosphere. [There's an entire other story about how we were supposed to go there on my 8th grade trip when we went out west. But that school trip will have to take up a post of its own someday.] I generally didn't feel well the whole day, and didn't eat much of anything. Later that night, we went to a TGIFridays and I ordered some sort of pasta dish with zuchinis and bowtie pasta. I've never eaten zuchini, but it was one of those dishes where I could eat around it. I still wasn't feeling all that well, but nothing alarming yet.

When we returned to the hotel, we went down to our friends' room to play cards. While sitting there, they were eating some sort of popcorn, and the smell of it was making me sick. I made some sort of comment that I wasn't going to eat anything for the next two days. I'd later find out I was right. I started to feel really sick, and headed back to my room. My dad was there watching TV, and he actually looked away from the TV long enough to notice my sprawled out form on the bed. He got one of the trash cans and sensing impending illness, lined it with a plastic bag.

About 3 minutes later, I started heaving. And heaving. I was on my stomach with only my head hanging off of the bed. I too am not a fan of vomitting, but at this point, it didn't matter. I had bowtie pasta coming out of my nose. I don't remember much else, except I too cry when I vomit, and I know my entire face was wet and I felt like I was dying. My mom later told me that she called the front desk and asked where she could take the trash. A guy came to the door and couldn't understand why we'd need to take out the trash. She showed him, and he finally understood.

I spent every 20 minutes in the bathroom for the rest of the night. I have this phobia of bathrooms so I won't sit on the floor, and instead stood and leaned, bracing myself with my arms outstretched to the wall behind the toilet. It was a fun night. The next day we were leaving Tuscon and heading to Flagstaff. I had to shower before going anywhere, and I now appreciate having the toilet so close to the shower that you can just stick your head out mid-shower and take care of business. We then went to some clinic where they triaged me right back into a room and gave me a shot. I was also given some sort of pill to take and told that it would make me drowsy, and then sent on my merry way.

For the first time in my life, my parents let me lay down in the back of a car without being buckled. My brother was sent to the other family's car, and I slept the entire drive. At one point, they had stopped to see some castle in a wall, and I woke up, noticed that they left the car on for me, and I thought they were wasting gas, so I turned it off and went back to sleep. It was 116 that day, and I didn't even notice burning up in the car.

Most of the next 3 days are completely gone from my memory. I was only up for about 5 minutes at a time. I didn't have to use the bathroom since I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything, and I mostly laid in my cozy bed oblivious to the world. They often bring up points of the trip that I attended, but I don't remember them because I was so drugged up. My mom actually hid my pills from me and wouldn't let me take any more.

To this day, the smell of zuchini makes me ill. I've formed an aversion to it since I associate that smell with the food poisoning incident. And, I know all too well what stomach acid tastes like because after about 3 vomits, the next 85 are all dry heaves. When I was first diagnosed with migraines, my doc prescribed these nasal inhalors that I was supposed to use. They were the foulest things I can remember ever having to use, and often would prefer suffering to taking them. He once asked me what they tasted like, and I could honestly respond that they tasted like stomach acid.

And we have the whole thing on film, which is what the next post is about.