“Why Do You Always Come Here To Die?”

Neil asked the question, staring down at your pathetic, shrunken, reeking form, outlined under three duvets, a towel, and your ridiculous winter hat.

Step throat.

Ohh, and it’s nasty.  Every time you swallow another round of rusty nails and sandpaper, it feels like someone kicks you in the throat.  You drool profusely in the mornings, often choking on it.   You when talk, you sound like a deaf person, throat tip-toeing cautiously around vowels.  Your hair is the worst example of a rat’s nest you’ve ever known–surpassing previous records for grossness and possible infestation.  The attic smells sort of sour.  It would probably have a worse stench if the air were warmer.


Sucking down creamed rice.


This beast was tied back to prevent further injury.


Katie is a way cuter sick person than you are.

Katie had it first, and like a champ, she kicked it in two days.  For real.  She fevered and sweated and moaned deliriously for two days, and them BAM!  It was gone.  Like a boss.

You, on the other hand, are a pathetic little bitch.  No amount of garlic-chili-ginger-lemon paste, manuka honey, vitamin C, and vitamin D could keep the beast at bay.  And just when you thought you were in the clear, it struck…

…fast and hard.

The amazing thing was that at the time Katie fell ill with strep throat, you were also very tired, and slept half the day with her, only to awaken and realize a very distinct pain and weakness in your back.  It was so weak, in fact, that you could not even bend over from the waist, fearing the sort of pain analogous to a baseball shattering a window pane.

The back pain persisted for four days.  No amount of yoga, bed rest, independent stretching, or light activity could fix it.  Unlike other back pain in your life, it had no mechanical cause.

On a Friday, merely sitting in a chair, or lightly walking around a room, “sciatica” struck without warning.  First it was light and infrequent.  It gradually worsened.  It was so persistent, that during motionless conversation, your face would flinch or grimace as lighting struck through your back without warning.  People asked what was wrong.

Adding back pain to a list of your many maladies (you are officially a hypochondriac)–arthritis, tennis elbow, possible beginnings of gum disease on two teeth, sensitive molars, declining vision in your left eye, skin fungus from sweating, and… split ends–was too much.  You lie on the living room coffee table, trying in vain to stretch your TFL, and cried softly from indignation.

That’s when Marlene stepped in with her Magic Hand.

She’s used it on your right knee four years earlier, and you’d been 100% skeptical.  That was a time when talk of spirits, homeopathy, sweat lodges, and spiritual ceremonies made your eyes roll.  Whatever you say, crazy.

So anyway, Marlene one day realized she had a Magic left hand with healing powers.  Others have supported her claim.  At the time, you didn’t care to offend her, so left her use her Magic Hand on your knee and sat silently for AGES.  You weren’t big on being touched, contributing to further awkwardness.

And did it help?  You’re unsure.  Would 30 minutes being off your knee help it?  Or was it the hand?

You don’t know.

You’ve had other encounters with Hocus Pocus since beginning your travels, and you have to say, over the years, they have demonstrated respectful efficacy.  You won’t eschew Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation for a magic hand, but when all else fails, why not?

So you sat down that evening and let her go to work, keeping your mind open.

As a movement specialist, you ought to know a thing or two about sciatica.  It was why you were so frustrated.  This back pain, which had unnecessarily been with you since the day Katie had strep throat, was ridiculous.

You talked to keep yourself distracted from the process.  Now and again, lightning would shoot through you back, but as the minutes passed, it did so less and less often, until finally it stopped.  Marlene released you.  You stood up, gingerly tested your range of motion, and found yourself pain free.

Not bad.

Still unsure of whether Marlene had anything to do with it, you respectfully thanked her for her time and said you felt much better.  Truth.

And about three minutes later… the sore throat.  Bam.  Just.  Like. That.

The back pain is 100% gone.  It has been for days.  It’s all been in your throat.

Katie and you are throat-deep in one another all the time.  It made no sense that her exposure to the strep should have occurred before yours.  You do every thing together.  Yet somehow, you didn’t get it until 5 days later.  It’s as though all that bad energy camped out in your back until Marlene kicked it out.

Now, or course you have no scientific basis for this claim.  It’s nothing but a confirmation bias.  A creepy one.

So now you sit, at the end of your 4th day of the most devastating sore throat of your life, wondering why you always get so damn sick when you come to Sli Na Bande.

  • In 2008, you had a nasty, nasty flu that had you vomiting and aching and sweating for days, accompanied by a sinus infection.
  • In 2009, you acquired another flu that progressed into pneumonia and put you in the hospital with a blood pressure of like 60/35.
  • In 2010, you got a stomach bug that gave you impressively painful gas and sheet-staining diarrhea.
  • In 2011–you were in America, but that didn’t stop you from getting food poisoning from a Mystery Miso Soup, and acquiring everything that went through San Francisco, since you worked in the filthiest environment you can think of.
  • 2012–strep throat.

If you had to trade it all in for the least horrible experience, you’d choose 2011, when you weren’t here.  You didn’t miss work, after all.

Strep throat is terrible, and you wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Damn Katie, for not having tonsils, and kicking it in 2 days.  You, on the other hand, are absolutely wretched at clearing out bacteria.  You’ve always said that you would probably die from a bacterial infection.  History demonstrates that your immune system is absolutely retarded when it comes to bacteria: strep knee, BV, dry socket, infected hands…

You finally cried this evening, feeling utterly sorry for yourself because you haven’t been able to swallow on the margin of comfort at all today, and the infection has shifted from the left tonsil to the right, and into your right ear, and halfway up your mouth.  There’s no end in sight.

The arsenal.

The arsenal.

Should you throw in the towel and get antibiotics?

Perhaps a handful of your readers have any clue about your history with antibiotics and the trail of destruction is left for four years.  If you can help it, you’ll avoid them for the rest of your life.  Besides, Katie–who is fatally allergic to most antibiotics–can kick strep without ’em.  You will not be bested by her youthful vigor.

Categories: Illness, Ireland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on ““Why Do You Always Come Here To Die?”

  1. angus

    dam Girl, get an anti biotic. strep is cruel, I had it in Oct, after a week of halloweening with too many snotty kids. It will come back too if you don’t properly get rid of it. I am very sad that you two have had such a sickly time in Wicklow, I think your just missing me and you’ll be fine when I get back!!!LOL. Really, get to a doctor beforeyou right off christmas too. If its any consolation I spent the last week with a nasty flu type virus but thankfully I am on the mend. Was out last week with my best mate steve and we were drinking Kingfishers during a promotion and we told the promo guy that we really wanted to win the prize, some chance, got a call yesterday saying that we had won a n all expenses trip to Goa on Saturday to the David Gueta concert, whata laugh, we were goingto Goa on Saturday anyway just couldn’t work out an affordable way of doing it and it Steves Birthday on sat too!!!! Karma karma karma, you gotta love it.I’ll be back next weekend and I hope to find a sensibly recovered Maria and a Katie that hasn’t lost her mind with Boredom and sniffles. I promise I’ll fill you up with good hot curry and maybe an Irish Coffe or three!!!
    Miss you all
    Love Gus

  2. mamaCindy

    Hoping you are better by now and/or got antibiotics. Having had strep numerous times, they are the only way to go – why suffer all that misery then the recover from being brought down so low???? Strep is nothing to mess with, not to mention it is no way to start off your grand adventure. xoxo

  3. Pingback: Getting Work Experience Through Work Exchanges: The Good, The Bad, & The Odd | Life Of Travel - A Memoir

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