Sick on a Trip? Aw, Crap.


Last weekend, some family members and I swapped our various tales of gastro-intestinal nightmares while traveling . . . at a wedding. Over dinner.

Hey, the invitation said SEMI-formal. If it was formal-formal we would have polished our monocles and discussed Wittgenstein and the bridge column, but we aren’t invited to events like that.

Anyway, it turns out that we all had some pretty good (and gross) stories, and because I can’t think of anything useful to write about at the moment, I thought I’d share mine.

John and I did a trip to the Middle East in 2007, visiting Egypt, Jordan, and Israel and this was the first time I was traveling someplace that came with a CDC warning. They recommended that pre-travel I get various vaccines, and to avoid tap water, ice cubes, etc. While that didn’t bother me, being a green traveler it did make me slightly cautious and a little worried about getting sick. To begin with, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. In fact I’m pretty sure that at this very moment I have a brain tumor and perhaps even, my latest favorite, cervical cancer. So the idea of coming down with a case of, oh, HEPATITIS in EGYPT sends my mind absolutely reeling. No, really. Even now just thinking about it makes me short of breath. Also, and far more importantly, I’m a cheap-ass and this trip was expensive. It would be an enormous waste of money to be holed up in some crappy Sheraton for days when I paid thousands of dollars to see some thousands-of-years-old-built-by-aliens crap . . . I mean treasures.

But no matter, right? After all, we were staying in western style hotels, how bad could it be? No tap water, no ice cubes, careful about produce, wash my hands, I can handle that, I do that anyway. Everything started out fine. On our first night in Cairo we had a lovely meal overlooking the Nile, I had a glass of wine, everything was going great, and I couldn’t wait to get moving throughout the rest of Egypt. The next day as we were walking through the famous Khan el-Khalili souk I petulantly told the CDC to go fuck themselves as I ate a chickpea straight from the what I’m sure was the horrifically filthy hand of an Egyptian con artist (no, really, he was a con artist, but that’s another story for another time). And I was fine. I felt like Anthony Bourdain – no reservations, biyatch! Pass me another chickpea!

Um, just kidding.  Hello, the guy was a con artist. He TOLD me to eat that chickpea, and I was a slutty western woman who causes earthquakes in post-9/11 Islamic country. I didn’t want to upset him.


Despite the auspicious pea, I continued to be cautious about water, brushing my teeth with the bottled stuff, keeping my lips tightly sealed while in the shower (which is a task in ENORMOUS will-power for those of us who feel compelled to sing Part of Your World with each shampooing, let me tell you), and even going so far as to WIPING MY LIPS OFF as I dried off. If you’ve seen the Sex and the City movie scene where Charlotte suffers the same compulsive neurosis, then you can imagine how hysterically I laughed. This was me, right down to the facial tics.

And like Charlotte (and as in life), I did fail at my quest to keep my mouth shut. I, too, swallowed the evil un-American water and freaked out just a tad.  Despite all of this I was fine, healthy, in total vacation and tourist mode.

But then it happened.

I don’t know what it was, what did it, but it happened. I got sick. And you know, we should probably add an extra “t” to that “but” because yup . . .  butt happened. Butt happened like you would not believe. And I was on a boat. T-Pain did NOT include that in his song and dear god, a boat is the last place you want to be when your intestines revolt. Oh, and speaking of places you DON’T want to be when your intestines revolt? Anywhere within a ten mile radius of your boyfriend, the person you are attempting to fool into believing you are sexy and attractive. But guess what, lucky me, I WAS IN A 6×6 FOOT CABIN WITH THIS PERSON.

just moments away from sticking my head in a trash can

Honestly, you guys wonder why we’re not married? THIS IS THE REASON. He is still considered to be under post-traumatic stress.

I didn’t want to miss out on seeing the sights, so despite all sense, I ventured out with our group. At one point I started feeling really weak, so I broke away from the tour and sat down somewhere, and that’s really when and where I threw up: right there in a four thousand year old temple, a UNESCO world heritage site, a place of worship and extreme importance to ancient Egyptians and the world and I barfed on it. Screw you, Osiris.

I was sick in just about all modes of transportation

So usually when you think “food poisoning” you think of a 24-hour bug type thing, right. I was hoping I’d flush this thing out of every possible hole in my body and just be done with it and get back to my normal self.

I was so horribly wrong. I got sick on about day four of the trip and didn’t recover until about TEN DAYS LATER in Tel Aviv.

Now, I think that according to most medical practitioners, when you have diarrhea (yeah, I said it) for TEN DAYS you are technically supposed to die. But I didn’t JUST have diarrhea for TEN DAYS. I had diarrhea in a foreign country where toilet paper can be a rarity (oh, don’t even get me started on what I went through in one fateful restroom in Jordan), with my boyfriend in extremely close quarters, in brain-boiling heat, having to pass on delicious Middle Eastern food for bananas and toast, as hypochondriac, FOR TEN DAYS, you are officially more badass than Chuck Norris. Kiki > Chuck. Obviously.

sick, and yet still dead sexy


Ok, well, “badass” perhaps was the wrong choice of word.

Honestly, it was really awful and I thought I was going to die, but somehow I managed to press through, not really missing out on any of the trip. The adrenaline of seeing all of these amazing things and being in this incredible place somehow kept me going.

At the end of the trip when we made our way to Jerusalem, I was saved by a nice Jewish doctor. Promised land, indeed. Have you ever had to answer the question “so the diarrhea, is it explosive?” in front of you boyfriend? No? Well I have, and he is still with me. Write a song about THAT, Taylor Swift.

I’m not a religious person, but you can’t be in Jerusalem and not feel that it is a very special, very spiritual place. It’s the birthplace of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism; home of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Via Dolorosa, the Dome of the Rock, the Wailing Wall.

Most importantly, it’s the home of the Dan Panorama hotel where, for future reference, you can get Cipro from their in-house doctor.


6 thoughts on “Sick on a Trip? Aw, Crap.

  1. WendyD says:

    Damn girl, you can make anything entertaining. 🙂

    I’ve never had that kind of distress ON a trip, but after Mardi Gras in 2006 I had giadarsis for like 3 months and that was horrid.

    I’ve been memorably sick twice while traveling. In 1998, when I went to Wales to study abroad, I left the country with strep throat. That was seriously miserable. Flying 8 hours like that was not pleasant and I then spent the first week of my time abroad doing a home stay and having a random woman I’d never met take care of me. I’m not normally a homesick kind of person, but oh how I wanted my mom.

    The other time was Mardi Gras 2009 (and yet I keep going 😉 ), I went down with what I thought was just a cold, but turned out to be a horrendous sinus infection, ended up in an emergent care clinic thinking I was going to die. Lisa and TracyA were out catching beads and I was curled up guzzling antibiotics and nyquil hoping for death for a few days.

    The things we do for a good story 🙂

  2. Lisa says:

    I’m sorry to laugh at your illness but this is one of the funniest things you have ever written!
    I’ve had similar experiences, never in a foreign country however. Ask Mike about “Blackie’s”…never mind don’t.

  3. pam says:

    I have to admit that you had me also laughing but I can only imagine how miserable you must have been. I would have probably been the same way though and want to continue on because I was so excited to see all those sites.

    I got sick after a meal one night during our honeymoon. We had already been living together and he’d seen me sick but he’d never seen me throw up voliently. Oh I was horrified and I laid on the cold tile floor of the bathroom to our suite at the B&B we were staying in because I was so weak I could hardly move. Luckily I was better the next day. Jarrett got sick the night before we left Paris and had to endure intestinal distress during our travel day back home. I felt so sorry for him.

  4. Sophia says:

    Ah, Kiki! I love reading your adventures – even if it involves a butt.

    OH! And, I have to add that I’m glad I’m not the only one who sings Little Mermaid songs in the shower/bath! I even did that during labor w/Lucas. 🙂

  5. Nanette says:


  6. […] or end up costing more, buses are cancelled, you miss a flight, you get freaking pink eye or the bubonic plague – you name it. I guess the best thing that you can do is to be prepared but remember that plans […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: