Always Pack Your Aspirin

(or other assorted medication)

One of the worst things is being sick in a foreign place.  Now, I know that England isn’t that different from Canada, but it’s still got a touch of unfamiliarity.  Most of the juices at the supermarket are concentrated, so you have to mix them with water before you can drink);  it’s almost impossible to find white vinegar in a fish and chips shop; they sell beer and liquors at Tesco; etc.

When I’m sick all I want to do is curl up on a familiar couch/bed with a comfy blanket and have someone bring me soup (usually chicken soup from a familiar donut shop).  As I was “across the pond”, this was slightly impossible.  The dorm room had pull down beds and my bed was the closest to the door, which meant that the door couldn’t fully open if my bed was down from the wall.  Hence, me lying in bed all day was an inconvenience to my roommate.

I’ve heard some really bad horror stories about people getting sick on vacation (trust me), so my story seems tame by comparison.  But whatever…

I was with a few friends in London when my stomach started to feel bad.  The bad feeling started in Westminster Abbey, as we wandered along the set path.  I thought it was because of the musty air inside the Abbey, so I figured that I’d start feeling better once we were out.  After leaving the Abbey we walked to the Saachi Gallery.  I was excited about this because we’d studied the YBAs (Young British Artists) in Art History last year and I knew about this stuff.

Pop by Gavin Turk. One of the… tamer pieces of work I saw. (

I managed to wander through a good portion of the Gallery before I realized that I had to leave.  Now.  My stomach was feeling worse and I’d doubt that the owners would appreciate my art of “being sick on the floor”.  I told my friends that I had to leave because I was sick, then I left.  Alone.  I don’t fault my friends – maybe I didn’t seem as sick as I felt, and who wants to go all the way back to Harlow when you have so many things in London to explore? – but it wasn’t fun to walk to the Tube, travel to Liverpool Street Station and get on the train for Harlow while sick, dizzy and alone.  I actually ended up falling asleep on the train on my way back and woke up in a panic that I’d missed my stop.  Thankfully the train passed by a particular town that was a bit… (for lack of a better word) smelly, so I woke up before Old Harlow.

I pretty much stayed in bed for almost a week.  Flu = no food = no energy.  I made a trip to the nearest grocery store and perused their drug aisle for something that looked like it would do the trick, since my usual meds weren’t available.  Obviously I got over it, but I wish I’d had the foresight to bring some medication from home.

Trying new food and drink in a foreign place is awesome.  Trying new medication when you’re feeling ill and disgusting is not so much.  Brands may have changed since 2004, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.  So pack the aspirin, the motrin, the gravol, etc.  They won’t take up as much space as that sweater you’re never going to wear.

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