Forgetful Yet Uneasy

Thanks to or because of, depending on your choice of perspective, my current workload distracts me from thinking too much about the pandemic and the tsunami of physical, emotional, and financial implications it carries with it. For hours on end, I am so immersed in my work, I can totally forget about it all.

Like most folks that have yet to know anybody that has been directly hit by the virus, it’s the indirect impact I hear of; from one friend in Malmö whom will likely lose his expansive restaurant business, to another pal, scared and hiding in complete isolation deep in one of Los Angeles sprawling suburbs.

The weirdest part of this unfolding drama is our collective uneasiness. We, including all the self-proclamied experts, still don’t know squat about how this craziness will actually conclude. Antithetical to an earthquake and other natural catastrophes, where there usually are plenty of historical precedents and aggregated statistics to help fill the void, map the scope (and to cope), here there are just too many puzzle pieces missing to provide a full picture of what the Covid-19 pandemic will look like going forward. Is there going to be even more radical plot twists? Like not becoming immune even after recovering from the disease? Or, that even if you only experience mild symptoms the first time you contract the virus, will they worsen the second or third time around – after your immunology has been compromised and exhausted? 

To put our current situation in a comically contextual perspective, it’s kinda like having a really bad stomach flu. Even several days after the last time you had diarrhea, you feel uneasy about letting out the tiniest fart. It’s just so friggin’ hard to relax these days.

The above photo of a pineapple themed tapestry is totally unrelated to this post but works as a decorative featured image nonetheless.

I got Delhi Belly in Sri Lanka

Somehow, somewhere and from someone (or something) I got this unbelievably persevering, discombobulating belly bug. I know not of how it entered my body nor is there any logic to its schedule. It just arbitrarily decides when it’s time to afflict my digestive system with painful cramps and ultimately, create an emergency need for a toilet. Does coffee trigger an attack? Probably. Have I stopped drinking coffee temporarily? Nope. Does the monkey above have anything whatsoever to do with this piece? No. But, when I shot it yesterday on the patio of our hotel which is nestled in the hill outside Kandy, it kinda looked like I feel today. Confused and discomforted.

As I am currently in Asia, where, for the most part, toilet hygiene – for whatever reason – does not reside on a top ten list of things to prioritize, finding a reasonably sanitized WC to relieve myself – often with extremely short notice – is in itself an almost insurmountable challenge with an uncertain outcome. Correction: the outcome is definitely certain (and certainly fluid).

Case in point: yesterday afternoon while exploring Kandy, I felt a irrevocable surge emerging from below my belt. Luckily, we quickly found a nice little downtown cafe with an unoccupied, albeit filthy toilet that had to suffice – considering the circumstances. I spent a good twenty minutes in there – hoping I wouldn’t leave sicker than when I walked in.

This morning, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and then again at 5:00 a.m. panicking and with razor sharp cramps followed by several volcanic eruptions, wide-angle, buttocks spraying acid showers and eventually, a mild case of PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder). It was as if I had just run a marathon.

I spent four months working in Bangkok last spring and traveled to both India and Morocco this past fall. Three destinations where I could easily have gotten sick – but didn’t. And over the last 20 or so years, I’ve visited Asia and Africa many, many times without catching even a hint of a stomach flu. Sure, I’ve had a few occasions with, “Houston, we’re out of control” level bowel movements. Just in passing, though…and usually after a real spicy meal or too many fermented beverages. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been hit this violently since the first few days of a visit to Goa, India, way back in the spring of 1997. So, I suppose that given the amount of opportunities I could of gotten sick but didn’t, I should be thankful.

Knock, knock!

Someone keeps knocking on my door. The staff obviously wants to clean the room. The toilet may need some extra attention today. Just sayin’…

Before I leave the security of my room and its conveniently adjacent toilet, I’ll pop a few more Imodium pills and hope they put a cork on/in the situation.

Usually, laughter is the best medicine…except when treating diarrhea.