It does not fail.
I plan a trip like the military plans an engagement. I have the right tools, clothes and most of all, the right meds.
Still, when I return from my travels it does not fail.
I get sick.
Right now I am getting a sore throat — scratchy, achy and totally uncomfortable. I’ve got a headache going on and I feel sort of woozy when I get up.
Let’s go back a few weeks.
I was asked to go on a travel trip for our local newspaper. I read the details and it was just active enough I could do everything on the schedule, but short enough I wouldn’t run out of energy before I came home.
I packed carefully and before I left home, I called my rheumatologist and asked for my secret weapon: a steroid dosepack.
Dosepacks have been my friend since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. They kept me on my feet then, and they give me that little extra boost of energy plus awesome pain control.
They do have one awful down side.
They suppress your immune system, which means hanging out at an airport and being trapped in an airplane makes your immune system ground zero for any floating bacteria or virus.
The upside of this is I spent four great days in Beaumont, Texas, a surprising town near the Louisiana border not far from Port Arthur and the Texas Gulf Coast. It’s perfect for a getaway with your special one or the entire family.
I walked a lot, held a young alligator, visited a bayou, ate a 50s-style burger lunch in an Airstream trailer and met a bunch of new friends. I enjoyed it all, right up until today when that telltale scratching started in the back of my throat.
I test my luck any time I travel, or anytime I’m in a group that includes small children. If there are germs around I’ll probably be visited by them. If I’m taking steroids, you can pretty much take it to the bank that I’ll come home sick.
This was not the first time. Worst was a 10-day Hawaiian trip that included a seven-day cruise of the Islands and I was exhausted before I left. I went into a full flare while I was gone. One of the worst moments of my life was crying while I was “chauffeuring” three other people in a Mustang convertible on the island of Kauai.
I felt so bad and no one in the car believed me. It was awful.
I slept the entire trip home and was running a fever when I was supposed to go back to work. Funny, my boss didn’t believe that either.
Personally, if this is all I get and it leaves in the next few days, I’ll considered this bug a minor inconvenience and move on.
The next trip is already in the works.