Now with a short overseas holiday not so far away, I have been thinking about other trips I have been on with K.
Our first trip overseas together was in 1994 and we went for six weeks. We were to go from Melbourne to Singapore then to London. We also had a short trip to Denmark on the agenda.
Before we arrived in London we had a three night stopover in Singapore which was great fun despite the huge blisters I got on my feet from wearing pretty but useless shoes. Lots of people, rain and interesting food to sample. I bought a portable cd player for the princely sum of $400 and I still have it. Although I never use it.
We went to a place called Newton Circus (I think it is called that) where I ate a dish of chicken curry and rice washed down by warm coconut milk.
When I embarked on the plane that would take us from Singapore to London, I carried some extra baggage in the form of a food bug. However, it took about two days to actually acknowledge to myself that it might be food poisoning. The reason for this delay in self diagnosing was because my unsympathetic husband thought I was plane sick and attention seeking.
Once on the plane I felt ill and was unable to eat for the entire 12 hour flight. I was, however, able to visit the toilet at least 18 times. In between those visits I would vomit in the air bag or lie in a semi-conscious state with my head against the cool window. I thought I was air sick and was wondering how on earth I would get back to Australia at the end of my holiday as there was no way I was getting on a plane again if this was going to happen.
When we landed in London, my incredibly sympathetic husband said the following:
“What is your problem? 399 other people on this plane are perfectly okay and you are just being sick”. (Oh, he did live to regret those words).
Once in London we had to drop our luggage off to the hotel and kill time for six hours until we could book into our room. We managed to freshen up and feel a little more presentable after that long flight. I was still terribly unwell, pale and weak but determined to enjoy myself.
Now, my husband had lived in London fifteen years earlier when travelling the world and was going to show me all the great places to visit. The trouble is, when you revisit a town the memory of distance and the interconnection of different areas can get a little mixed up. This mix up resulted in us walking all over London to find Harrods. At one point I threatened to crap in a toilet if he did not get me to one urgently. Walking and having a seriously upset tummy is very, very difficult to do.
When we finally arrived at the door of Harrods, the only place I wanted to go was to the toilet. And I had to pay money. It cost me $5 to use to toilet but by that stage I would have donated a kidney to get into the cubicle.
K then suggested we go to Covent garden. We took the tube and, despite being unwell, I was able to enjoy the whole journey through the underground tunnels. When we disembarked, we then had to make our way up to the street. You could either take the lifts or use the spiral stairs. As there were so many people waiting for the lift K talked me into doing the stairs. All 150 or more of them. By the time I got to the top I was incapable of speaking. All I could say was “toilet – NOW”.
Perhaps I was imagining it, but there was an extreme shortage of public toilets and we had to walk for quite a distance before we finally found one. It was one of the first automated public toilets I had seen and was situated in an area buzzing with cars and people. I think that I may have had to pay to use it.
Anyway, I was sitting rather miserably upon the throne with my head in my hands for what seemed like a long time when I casually looked up to see a little sign that said “Warning, door automatically opens after ten minutes”. What the! I had been sitting there for at least eight of those minutes. I panicked and grabbed the toilet paper. It was double sided shiny paper and came out of a little unfriendly cardboard box one sheet at a time and I had to pull it out as fast as I could to get enough to do the job.
I just want to say this. Nothing is worse than wiping your bum with shiny toilet paper when you have been suffering from food poisoning AND you have to be out of the toilet in approximately 45 seconds before the door opens and allows the passing world to view your helplessness. I managed to make myself decent before the door opened. To top it off I could not get the tap to work or the toilet to flush. Apparently all that would happen upon my exit.
When I stepped outside I said to K that we had to go back to the hotel now.
Once back at the hotel K went out and bought me some Imodium with the thought that perhaps that would help my stomach. I took four of them with the thought the more is best.
Then next morning I was still unwell and we had to go to a Doctor’s and get a script for Lomatol. I was duly informed that I had food poisoning and was not air sick at all. The entire trip to the doctor’s and paying for the script cost us $360.
I took the Lomatol as advised. Then I took some Imodium as a back up.
I did not have a crap for the next seven days. Without a doubt the combination of those two drugs completely dehydrated my body.
I found it so traumatic that I ended up with neuralgia across the entire left side of my face which was excruciatingly painful and I had the urge to slap anyone who came within five feet of my aching face. That episode lasted for four days. Despite it all, we had a lot of fun and once I completely recovered the holiday took on a completely different feel to it.
But I have never eaten chicken curry since. And the smell of coconut milk makes me want to vomit even after 14 years.