Imagine, for a moment, that you are deep in a peaceful sleep. You are relaxed after a long day, dreams floating through your mind. Then, you feel a pressure in your stomach, and you turn so that you can relax. But the pressure doesn’t go away. You wake up to the pain, but everything still feels dreamy, including you. The pressure continues, more insistent, and then comes the nausea. Your mouth waters, you know that you need to go to the bathroom to throw up. You do, and you go back to bed even as the pain continues. You next find yourself waking up to a concerned Jes and host brother who are wondering why it’s noon and you’re still not awake.
But you feel even worse than before. You’re so tired for some reason, and Jes and your host brother are worried, because you keep throwing up. You can’t hold anything down. Your host brother’s mother comes down. She makes you tea to help calm your stomach. But it doesn’t work. You take Immodium. Failed again. You drink water, but it just comes back up.
Next, your host family urges you to go to the doctor, but you’re worried about the prospect of going to the hospital in a foreign country. Plus, there’s three flights of stairs between you and the car (and no elevator). You’re too tired and nauseous to stand, how will you get to the car?
But you have to try.
So you get up on legs that sway like a newborn deer’s. You make it to the stairs, and everyone in the house is here with you, watching, hovering, hoping that you’re going to get better, encouraging you, rubbing your back. It’s vaguely claustrophobic. As well-meaning as everyone is, it’s vulnerable to have your sick body watched like this. You get to the top of the stairs, and you throw up into the trash can that you’ve started to clutch like a teddy bear. You sit down, and someone says that you shouldn’t stand if you’re still throwing up. But then you know that you need to get down these stairs, so you just use your hands to stabilize your body while you move to the next step down, and the next one, and on and on until you reach the foyer. You’ve finally exited the apartment. The sunlight hurts your eyes. You can see neighbors going throughout their business, wondering why you are in the street in your pajamas. Your host brother brings the car around so you, his sister, and Jes can get in. The car is warm, womb-like, after sitting in the noon day sun. You drive for fifteen minutes to the hospital, dozing, and manage to keep from throwing up. When you arrive, someone brings a wheelchair for you, and you are wheeled into the ER while your host family takes care of the papers. It is a rush of people, and doctors and nurses rush around you. When you finally see the doctor, someone translates for you as you try to explain what you’ve eaten in the past couple of days, but at some point your vomiting interrupts you. You keep trying to speak around the dry heaving (because at this point nothing is left in your stomach. If anything is coming up, it’s bile) until someone pats you and quietly says, “It’s okay. You can stop talking. They’re going to give you a shot.”
So you are wheeled into the next room, where you receive a shot and a list of medications to take, and then you are wheeled back to the car, where you doze until you arrive back at the apartment and fall asleep.
Don’t let anybody ever say that I hid the ugly truth. Traveling is messier than everyone tells you. I’m thankfully feeling much better now, but I’m going to rest here in Casablanca for another day.