I don’t usually write these kinds of posts, but while reading Nish Weiseth’s Speak I was reminded of the power of story to impact the lives of others. So this is a story for anyone who is having a bad day, a mediocre day, or just a day where they haven’t laughed enough.
A few weeks ago we were able to travel to Japan for a few days during a Korean national holiday called Chuseok (which is basically their version of Thanksgiving). Although Japan is very close to Korea (the flight to Osaka takes about an hour), we hadn’t had an opportunity to visit yet because we really need at least two days there to make the plane tickets worthwhile and we very rarely have long weekends. So back in May when we found out the dates for Chuseok this year and knew we would have a long weekend at the beginning of September, we went ahead and bought tickets and booked a hostel.
The timing ended up being a little strange because we had actually just returned from our visit to the US and our vacation to Bali (which Jonathan wrote a great post about) the week before and now we were headed back to the airport for another trip (albeit, a very short one)
Our flight left on Sunday. On Friday night, my stomach revolted in what I can only assume was a delayed case of Bali-belly. I had been feeling slightly off all week, but suddenly I felt like I had eaten molten lava. My entire abdomen was on fire. And I swear there was a small man hacking into my back with an ax while giggling gleefully. I spent the better part of the evening in the bathroom, trying not to wail audibly as the evil inside of me clawed its way out. (This experience did make me swear off childbirth for at least the hundredth time).
Finally, things calmed down. I thought, “I ate something bad, but everything seems ok now.” Bless my heart.
Saturday morning I woke up to find that in fact everything was NOT ok. I ate almost nothing on Saturday. In spite of that I managed to make 14 urgent sprints to the toilet (none of which were false alarms). How? How was I possibly generating this material? Was the creature inside of me digesting my own organs?
On Sunday morning I was cautiously optimistic. We had been planning our trip for months and we were NOT going to cancel it so I could stay in the bathroom all break. By this point, I wasn’t feeling super sick…just sort of like all of my insides wanted to be outsides. I figured by this point there was literally no food left in me and I should be good to go.
Just before we walked out the door, something inside of me lurched. I tried to ignore it. We had to take a taxi to the train station and then a train to Busan and then a subway to the airport and then a plane to Osaka and then another train to Kyoto and then another subway to get to our hostel that night. I could not be tied to the bathroom for all of that travel.
I channeled my inner Chris Traeger and tried using the power of positive thinking.
It did not work.
But I was determined. I fashioned a delightful sort of adult diaper for myself and off we went. Problem solved.
Remarkably, I made it all the way to Kyoto with no major incidents. (Maybe my Chris Traeger moment worked after all? I like to think yes.) But sadly, my troubles weren’t over.
The next morning it became clear that if I was going to spend the day touring Kyoto I was going to need some professional help. I reluctantly approached the beautiful Japanese girl working the front desk of our hostel.
“Is there a pharmacy nearby?” I whispered furtively, glancing around at the other travelers in the lobby.
She told me there was. Score. “And do they speak English?”
She told me they did not. But she would happy to write down what I needed in Japanese so I could show it to the pharmacist.
“I seem to have some sort of parasite…” I said euphemistically.
She looked at me blankly. “I don’t think the pharmacy will have something to kill a parasite.”
“Um…yeah…no,” I fumbled. “I…uh…I just need to stop going to the toilet?” I quickly turned my face away and looked at something across the room real casual-like
“Oh,” she said. Then she took out a piece of paper and wrote what I can only assume to be the Japanese word for “diarrhea” which she handed to me politely.
We did find the pharmacy and got the meds, which were effective after a day or so. The best part of this story though is that the paper the girl wrote my symptoms on was the back of a very helpful map that I held up in front of my face for reference as we wandered around looking for the pharmacy.
My best friend assured me that this would be “a very funny story someday.” I hope if you’re reading this and having a not-so-great day, you feel a little cheered up. Because hey, at least you (probably) aren’t wandering around Japan holding a paper in front of her face that just says, “Diarrhea.”