You can’t call in sick on vacation

I felt so bad I wouldn't let Brian take a face pictureYou can’t have a trip as long and covering as many miles as our recent one and not have a rock bottom low point. Mine came at a bus stop in Lyon.

I developed a nasty sinus infection about a week or so into the trip. I tried self-treating by eating dangerously large dabs of wasabi (it’s supposed to clear your sinuses!) and with a saline nasal rinse. In the ocean. Gross, I know but I was desperate. My antibiotics weren’t working. And you can’t buy Benadryl here.

I was full-on sick. If I’d been home I’d have called in (or more realistically — who uses phones? — emailed in) sick to work. But what do you do when you’re sick on vacation? You push on, that’s what. As long as you can anyway.

The day we left the cruise ship was an early morning after a late night. There was a 160-km-an-hour ride to the airport, long lines, security, long waits and a mad rush fighting a 40 member soccer team to board our RyanAir flight. The take off was painful but the descent made my eardrums scream. The kindly flight attendant kept stopping to ask Brian if I was ok as I gripped his hand and tears squeezed past my tightly-shut eyes. It hurt.

I tried to perk up for our arrival in Lyon. We were happy to be in France and off the regimented schedule of the ship. But all I wanted to do was crawl into the crisp sheets of our hotel bed and feel sorry for myself. I couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on seeing this French city though, and we were only there for a night. (long story) I showered and dressed, trying to convince myself by applying makeup that I felt all right.

We took a bus into the old city and had a late lunch then I tried to wander. My head throbbed, my nose wouldn’t let a whiff of air into my nasal passages, and from days of nose-blowing (sans Puffs-Plus with extra lotion) my nose felt like ground chuck being rubbed with sandpaper. I tried as hard as I could to be a good sport — it was so unfair to ruin Brian’s day, but I was just utterly and thoroughly miserable. We bought some snacks to take back to the room for an early night and made our way to a bus stop. I sat whining about how much my raw red nose hurt. It didn’t look any too pretty either.

Brian lit up and exclaimed, “Vaseline! You need to rub some Vaseline on your nose, it’ll feel better then.”

“Please,” I begged, “Please go get me some Vaseline!” My monolingual husband dashed across the street to a market. We had eight minutes until the bus would come. I sat trying not to blow my nose anymore. I had reached the point of using an actual hankie, like the kind my dad uses, and I was pretty mortified to pull the white-with-black-paisley soggy mess out of my bag.

Just as the bus appeared up the street Brian dashed across the intersection, small white box in hand. I sighed with anticipation of relief and grabbed it from him. The fellow bus passengers waiting nearby looked curiously at our activity. I tore open the box, opened the container and smeared the liquid all over my pitiful nose. And nearly screamed. It burned! I looked at the box just as the nearby people started snickering.

It was lubricant. Personal lubricant. Evidently when my frantic English-speaking husband went tearing through the store looking for Vaseline the staff gave him the closest thing they could find to what they thought he needed. And there I sat at a bus stop in Lyon, hankie in hand, French version of KY Jelly slathered all over my red nose.

If only I could have called in sick to that vacation day.

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4 responses to “You can’t call in sick on vacation

  1. Take a different view … in living through such disaster, discomfort, and embarrassment, you transformed from people on vacation to adventurers!

  2. Pingback: I know I come back with some odd souveniers sometimes, but this? « The Traveling McMahans·

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