The End of the Trip Was Not As Sweet

Well, my health has taken a turn for the worse. The risk of getting an infection while away was high because my white blood count was so low prior to embarking on the trip, and unfortunately, that risk has come to fruition. We aren’t slated to fly home until tonight, but I’m in the process of seeing if I can move our tickets to an earlier flight. I’ve rapidly declined from an already-poor wellness state this morning. I now have a fever, cannot warm up, a migraine, and a terrible stomach ache and infected abrasion. It’s not fun.

We are/were planning going to the National African American History Museum this morning before either our scheduled flight or our hopefully earlier flight. I had to get online at 6:30am this morning to secure timed tickets for entrance into the museum. They open up same-day ticket procurement at that time. I secured us two tickets, so I’m looking forward to going. I sure hope I’m up for it. Right now, I feel totally wan and ill. As much as this trip has been fantastic, I really wish, at this moment, I was in my own bed. I don’t feel well at all. I’m still glad we came on the trip, but when you feel this sick, it’s a bit of a tougher call.

Regardless as to what time our flight departs, we will likely not do anything else besides the African American History Museum. It’s supposed to take a while to truly tour, and that will be all the energy output I’m up to. It’s actually far more taxing than I’m truthfully up to, but I really want to see that museum. I’ve heard great things about it and it’s been so popular since it’s relatively recent opening. There aren’t any open morning flights anyway, so we will have the time no matter when we are able leave.

It’s frustrating to have a chronic illness and a lot of the health challenges and digestive issues I have. It can feel really limiting and isolating. I often feel these issues preclude me from trying so many things, be it a vacation, a gathering where I’ll be exposed to food allergens, or a day trip to a friend’s house. I don’t like to commit to something and then find that day that I’m unable to go based on how I feel. Then, I not only disappoint the other people involved in the plan and appear flakey, but I have to suffer the letdown of not getting to do something I was looking forward to and feel ashamed as well. It’s partly like a child being told his or her birthday party is suddenly canceled (the disappointment) and partly like failing to qualify for a sports team that all your friends make; you feel inferior, embarrassed, and like you will miss out on a good time. A similar poor outcome results if I preemptively decide a given invitation or plan is so likely to not work for me given one or more of my many issues. Declining or deciding against what would be enjoyable experiences again leaves me feeling like I’m missing out and ruled by my challenges. I like to feel like I rise above and defeat these struggles, but the truth is, it’s not usually a function of mind over matter; that is to say, I can’t just will myself to push through. Like right now, this fever is climbing, even with Tylenol (which I try very hard to avoid because of my liver, but when things get as bad as they are now for example, it’s a wiser health choice to just take one). It’s not really a realistic possibility (or at least not a prudent choice) to ignore my symptoms and go gung-ho with sightseeing. Honestly, the museum is probably something I need to forego today. I haven’t made my final choice, but that’s seeming like the way I’ll need to go.

If instead I decide to go ahead with plans (not just for the museum, but in general), I have to deal with the potential negative ramifications, as in the illness on this trip. Those sorts of things can set me back in terms of my general health as well as my mood, self-esteem, and feeling of self-efficacy. For instance, now I’ll have to deal with this voice in my head that tells me I’m a failure in terms of traveling, especially because I also suffered an infection the last trip I took (which was to Las Vegas) and had to leave early. Now I feel like a travel failure and stupid for even trying to plan nice things to do.

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It’s a bit later now and we are planning on taking an earlier flight home. I started to feel so poorly that we left for the airport even earlier than necessary for the rescheduled flight. Accordingly, we have a lot of time here to kill, but it’s better to feel like I’m one step closer to home at the fairly comfortable airport than wandering around the city deliriously with heavy bags.

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The airport experience was a major drag. Our plane was delayed, delayed, delayed again, and delayed one more time. Then, they stopped updating the board and simply kept the same time posted on there, even after we passed that time. We took a shuttle to the plane from the gate. The plane is more like one of those toy planes. It has 16 rows and 1 seat, the aisle, and then two seats. I’m happy to be next to Ben.

I was getting pretty cranky waiting for the delayed plane. I have a wound that made sitting very uncomfortable, yet pacing around was also not wise because I felt too feverish and weak. Finally, they called our plane and had us pile onto the shuttle. My justified (I believe!) complaint was that there were no announcements or updates on the shuttle, which is to say we weren’t clued into how far we had to taxi and once we got there, how long they were going to keep us holed up in the locked bus without a driver on board. I’ll answer those questions now that I’ve gotten through the experience and have seen what’s on the other time. The crowded, standing-room-only bus ride was maybe five minutes, but the wait on board the stopped bus before getting released to walk up the steps to the tiny plane was so long, 20-30 minutes perhaps. No fun. I kind of lost my cool and started grumbling to Ben and asking him all sorts of anxiety/bored questions: What are they doing?, When will we get off?, What’s taking so long?, Why aren’t they giving us any information?, What’s that string for?, Where are the windshield wipers?…Some older gentlemen made fun of me, and that only made my angst worse. People frequently don’t understand or “see” some of the insecurities and discomforts that autistic people because we often look “normal,” so our “disability” is invisible. I don’t appreciate being teased; it’s very hard for me when things change suddenly or if I am not in the loop about what’s going on, particularly in already-stressful situations like flying and being sick.

We are still aboard the plane, up in the sky as I write this. It’s been a surprisingly fun flight because my mood improved once we finally got airborne and Ben has been silly and interactive, instead of leaving me to my own worried devices. I’m hungry and tired though and really looking forward to landing, getting our car, and getting through the drive home. For now, I’ll try to make the most of the flight, ignore the screaming toddler in front of me and the kid kicking my seat from behind, and focus on the good parts. Tonight, I’ll be in my own bed.

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