Don’t let the cute photos fool you, my trip to the Caribbean was anything but smooth. The waters were rough literally. I went on the trip to celebrate my mom’s birthday with her, my step dad and her friends. The first day at sea, I began my morning at ship’s impressive gym with good workout followed by a nice long visit to the steam room. I made a mental note to start every day like this. Sadly, that never again happened.
With two full days at sea before our first destination, I spent my time enjoying the sunshine and all the fun amenities including the karaoke bar, comedy shows, and the 70’s nightclub. The second day I spent most of the day lounging with my mom and connecting in an amazing deck cabana looking over the sea. Life was GOOD!
It was the following day, my mom’s birthday, where I started running into trouble. First, we got the news that due to bad weather conditions we would not be stopping in Jamaica which was the whole reason we decided to go on this trip. From my cruise ship balcony I looked longingly at the island and waved as we moved past it. I reminded myself that more than 15 years ago I had been a cruise ship singer, so I had been lucky enough to visit these destinations. Still, watching Jamaica disappear in the distance stung.
This was also the day I started feeling sick. I wholeheartedly thought what I was feeling was due to what I was eating and drinking on the ship. I am a vegetarian but my diet is primarily vegan since I am allergic to dairy. I made sure to bring a huge bottle of lactase, a digestive enzyme that breaks down the lactose in dairy, because I know it is difficult to be 100% vegan when I travel. I had been using them for meals because even the vegetarian options in the dining room all contained dairy. Basically, I thought my poor food choices of veggie burgers and pizza were catching up to me.
By the time we went my mom’s birthday dinner I was feeling pretty awful. I decided to mask my symptoms by drinking a lot of red wine. Big Mistake. Other than singing Happy Birthday during dinner and a quick stop at the Karaoke bar (my mom’s one request of me for the trip was that I sing for her every night),
I retired early and went back to my stateroom not realizing that for the duration of the trip I would be spending most of my time in the room. The rest of my group went on to enjoy the evenings festivities while I promptly curled up in a fetal position.
The following day we arrived at Grand Cayman. Being that I could not be more than a few yards away from a bathroom at any given moment, I told my mom and the rest of our group to go enjoy the island without me. I could see the look of disappointment on my mom’s face and I silently vowed I would be better for our next stop in Cozumel. After a few hours I was feeling slightly better so I decided to disembark and go see some of the island. I didn’t make it far, but I did walk along the beautiful beaches and take in the scenery. The visit was short lived as my stomach started turning and I immediately headed back to the ship.
The next day I still wasn’t feeling great but left with our group for a Cozumel tequila tour and a beautiful beach lunch. As the day progressed, I felt like I was getting worse. I was officially the least fun person in our group and was counting down the minutes until I could return to the boat and my stateroom.
The last day was spent on the ocean and the only thing I could bring myself to do was show up for dinner and sing my mom a song. I was in bed by 8:30pm. I couldn’t wait to get off the ship the next day. I didn’t realize at the time I had all the symptoms of the stomach flu. It was only after the boat docked and I turned on my cell phone for the first time in week that I searched google for the answers of what was ailing me. I also reached out to my friend who works in the medical field and she felt strongly it was indeed the flu.
Traveling when you are sick is never fun and I was a zombie on our way to the airport. I took every over the counter pill to mask the symptoms but they did little to ease my sickness. We had a 3 hour flight from Houston to Phoenix where my mom, step dad, and friends would end their journey. I had a four layover until my flight back to California. I was in such bad shape after the first flight that I decided to reschedule my flight to California for the next day and I went back to my mom’s house in Phoenix.
It was a heartbreaking decision because I had so badly wanted to spend Christmas morning watching my young niece and nephew open presents on Christmas morning. I wasn’t there the previous year since I was in India, and I had been looking forward to seeing the Christmas joy on their young faces for a long time. Instead, I spent Christmas on the couch with a liter of Pedialyte and some saltine crackers. Even though I felt miserable, I was still really thankful that day. To have my mom and step dad there to help me, to have a warm bed to sleep in, and to have access to liquids and medications were a great blessing. Not everyone around the world is so lucky. I have seen that first hand in my travels.
I attempted to fly home two times Christmas day. Both times I cancelled the flights at the last minute. I so badly wanted to get home. As much as I love my mom and step dad, where I really want to be when I am feeling sick is in my own bed. I’ve made it no secret on this blog that I struggle with anxiety. The thought of being alone in an airport while sick was more than I could handle. Luckily, my mom and step dad were driving out to Palm Springs to visit my Grandma the following day. They graciously offered to drive me home and I accepted. After over four hours of driving to Palm Springs, my step dad drove me the rest of the way to my home in Orange. That means he drove a total of 8 hours to help me out. I love him so much for that.
Though I spent most of my Christmas in the bathroom, I counted my blessing a lot that day. If the stomach flu was my biggest problem, I am indeed blessed. I started thinking about all the people out in the world going through health problems so much more serious. I thought about families who spend their Christmas in the hospital with a sick child. I also thought about people who weren’t able to be with their loved ones for the holidays. I realized that almost every one of us struggles during the holidays. Of course it is a time of so much joy, but it is also a time where we remember who we have lost.
A positive part of being sick on Christmas is that it gives you a lot of time to reflect. Another plus is that it reignites my desire to do everything I can to lead a healthy life. So, I pray that in the new year we may all find good health, Love, and a lot of laughter. As I write these words, I am still weak from toll the flu took on my body. But, I know that every day will get better and I am thankful for it.