Traveling in the Time of Diarrhea
You know you’re in trouble whenever you’re confronted with something that’s hard to spell. In my case, it’s diarrhea or is it diarrhoea? The day before my scheduled flight back to California, I started feeling the symptoms of the disease.
I wonder if it had something to do with what I ate. Could it be the strawberries? Were they not washed clean enough? Could it be the weather? It was cold and breezy in Washington to shrink every part of my body.
One thing that I do know is when I finally hit the sack for a good night sleep, I experienced war brewing in my body. It wasn’t long that I heard the heavy sounds of opposing cavalry charging at each other inside my tummy. It would have been a scene straight from the Lords of the Rings. On one side were my white cells and on the other were the virus or bacteria that invaded my gastro-intestinal haven. Although I didn’t have a front seat view, I knew that the fighting was furious with millions of horses trampling on everything solid and turning it loose and watery. Once it became untenable, it led me to the bathroom to clear the field of engagement so the battle could begin anew. Darn, neither army would dare quit. It was only after my fourth visit to the bathroom that the combatants agreed to a truce.
It was no surprise that on the day of my scheduled trip back home, I felt terribly exhausted. The truce seemed to be holding up, though. It probably helped that I didn’t have breakfast. I realized that introducing something new into the battle scene at this point in time wouldn’t be well-received. It could be construed as a provocation by one party resulting in the commencement of hostilities.
A couple of hours before the shuttle van came to pick me up and drive me to the airport, I felt the familiar sensation of going to the bathroom. It could be nerves but I still went. I sat on the throne and waited for the downpour to come. Nothing came out but spurts of compressed gas. It was quite a relief, mind you, but it didn’t stop me from taking two anti-diarrheal tablets for additional peace of mind.
After passing airport security and minutes before boarding, I went to the bathroom again for good measure. I succeeded in freeing up more gas to further relieve the built up tension inside, but in the process some droppings came out, too. Was the cease-fire finally breaking down? I wondered. Not at all. The truce was still in force. As the news media would report later. it was nothing but the result of a skirmish between a small number of rogue cavalry units.
The flight to Oakland International was full. It would last seven hours with two stopovers. Considering my situation, I was lucky to have an aisle seat. This gave me the convenience of commandeering the bathroom when nature called. In case of real emergency, I also brought a pair of slacks and underwear in my carry-on bag. I guess official astronaut diapers would have been preferable, but I didn’t know where to get them.
I sat on my seat and fastened my belt like an obedient child. I tried to keep still as much as possible. I was afraid that any movement on my part could unsettle the relative peace in my system. I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep. Once in a while, I opened one eye looking at the lavatory sign to ensure that it wasn’t occupied. I graciously refused the usual snacks and drinks offered. It was well-worth it. My stomach didn’t act up during the length of the trip and I left the plane smelling fresh like Febreze.
After this ordeal, I sure was glad to be back home and sleep in my own bed again.