Saturday, December 22, 2018

Am Sick; Will Travel

We just returned from a two-and-a-half week trip to Hong Kong and Japan ... and it was nothing short of amazing. The sights; reconnecting with family; the food (!!!) - we had a phenomenal time and some jaw-dropping moments.


All three of us were sick at some point - and I don't mean a little sniffle kind of sick, I mean a high temperature/food poisoning/hacking cough/ear infection kind of sick. 

John was sick for the entire trip (he had four different colds and food poisoning) and had three full days of meetings in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. Our baby was recovering from a upper respiratory infection on our way to Hong Kong, then got the dreaded "spluttering virus" (as John and I called it) followed by an ear infection towards the end of our trip in Japan. I developed a stomach bug on my birthday and was treated to the spluttering virus straight afterwards. 

I'd like to say it didn't affect our trip, but it did. Walking around Tokyo with a fever and a sick baby wasn't fun - when I wasn't attempting to syringe Calpol and Nurofen into his mouth (the UK equivalent of baby Tylenol and ibuprofen), I was either running to the bathroom or shivering with chills and aches. And poor John spent at least a day in bed, but gamely soldiered on and completed all sorts of hikes and even a canoeing excursion (which, I don't know how he completed, feeling as bad as he did!).

One night in Tokyo, it was clear that our baby was super uncomfortable and pulling at his ears ... we contacted our Airbnb host and asked if he knew of any nearby hospitals that would take us, but he couldn't really help, so we called six hospitals, one by one. Out of these six, only two receptionists spoke English and one insisted that we needed an "agent" in order to pay for any treatment (they meant medical insurance, which we had, but something was indeed, lost in translation!). The other, thankfully, was able to give me a number for an English-speaking medical assistance hotline and a very helpful man found a baby clinic less than a 10-minute walk away from our Airbnb, where were able to see a pediatrician who prescribed antibiotics for the ear infection and an expectorant for the cough.

But, my goodness - those two hours we spent calling around the hospitals were so stressful! It felt like we were getting nowhere and meanwhile, our little one was becoming increasingly distressed as his temperature climbed.

I know that tending to sick babies on vacation is part of being a parent (it felt like a rite of passage!) but I was surprised at the deeper, underlying lesson I learned about being sick while travelling: that, instead of "pushing through" the discomfort of being ill, it's okay to accept that you might have to spend a day or two in bed, no matter how much you want to go out and explore the exciting place you're in. Even though there were so many things I didn't want to miss out on in Tokyo, I realized I wouldn't have enjoyed them when I was feeling so sick (and, more importantly, that it wasn't worth making my child feel worse by traipsing around - though he was cozily sleeping in the sling 100% of the time!).

Have you ever been sick on vacation? How did you deal? Let me know!

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