When It All Goes Wrong: A Horror Story


Halloween is upon us, so why not break the blog silence with an awful story? Like the one about my recent return to Spain?

I’ve traveled plenty and I’ve managed to do so with problems no greater than my seat-mate falling asleep on me, drooling on myself, or missing an occasional bus, but this year was different.

I’ve chosen bullets for this one, so as not to bore myself to death. Here’s what went down:

  • I had a Mom-style freak-out (hey Mom, I love you) at Newark Airport upon discovering that both check-in and baggage check were self-service (“I paid how much money to come to the airport and WORK FOR UNITED AIRLINES?”).
  • My suitcase was two pounds overweight (which costs 200 dollars, ma’am). I let the f-bombs fly freely while stuffing shoes and books into my carry on.
  • I had an opt-out security screening (see also: my vajeen was karate chopped in public).
  • On the flight, I sat in front of a man who had already strapped on his anti-pick-pocket holster before boarding (because of this, I suspected he was trouble, which was later confirmed when he got into an altercation with the woman behind him about his grossly over-reclined seat*).
  • Our in-flight dinner menu consisted of turkey meatloaf (help me), curry (please, no), and pasta (safe enough, still gross).
  • Instead of unpacking as planned upon my arrival, I passed out. This led to a circadian rhythm so royally fucked that I later woke up at 3AM and live-streamed the horror show that was the October 9th debate from my phone, as one does.
  • After sleeping for another painfully short two hours, I awoke at 8 AM to join the early morning commuters (or: almost passed out on the metro) and complete all of the paperwork for my job. I did all of this with an absolutely tremendous amount of nausea, Anderson.
  • Having conquered lines and government agents at the Ministry of Justice, I returned to my apartment at 2PM on the verge of puking and fell asleep. (At that point, I had consumed during the previous 24 hours: a bottle of orange fanta, three slices of potato, a sardine, and an itty-bitty muffin).
  • After napping for an hour, I woke up and began to vomit.
  • I wobbled down, then up, five flights of stairs to buy ketone test strips because, ever the optimist, I’d left mine in America. They turned dark purple immediately: high ketones, fuerte.
  • My brand new roommate found out I was diabetic when I texted her to tell her I thought I needed to go to the emergency room.
  • At the emergency room, my doctor asked me if I was sure I had type 1 diabetes, didn’t bother to measure my blood pH, and informed me that I simply had ketones from not eating enough! So it was that I spent my second evening in Spain in the back-room of a strange hospital, accompanied only by a rotating crew of dehydrated strangers and my own fears of never seeing the light of day again (after hooking me up to a glucose drip, the doctor/nurses instructed me to monitor my blood own blood sugars and deliver insulin as needed, then abandoned me).
  • I began to feel better after infusing insulin for a few hours and was able to drink again. They decided to discharge me (but had no way to re-check my ketones at the hospital, for some bizarre and unknown reason). While waiting for the paperwork to be completed, I recoiled as a woman collected her own bloody sputum samples in a tissue in the waiting room.
  • When I finally got out of the ER, I got in a taxi that reeked of alcohol, went home, and slept for 20 hours.

I’m happy to report that it has been uphill from there. Those first few days were really, I mean really awful and reminded me of the million ways that “things going wrong” can be much worse when diabetes is at play. The subpar ER treatment made me grateful for the knowledge I have of my own condition and the fact that I know how to manage it and (on most occasions) what I need to feel better. Had it been any other way, I’m not sure how the visit would have gone.

How to avoid this sort of thing happening in the future? I’m sort of lost on ideas. Drink more water? Take a sleeping pill on overnight flights to ease jet-lag? Coat my body in hand sanitizer? Travel in a bubble?


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