I have been abroad for a while now. It is not as long as it has been last year. Still: three months is a lot. I have tried to push my limits a little further and became quite confident in assuming that everything will be okay. The world has not let me down yet. But sometimes, I make my life harder than it needs to be.
Look, how far I’ve come
I always knew, I would find myself in a hospital one day. But, I thought it would be due to something spectacular. A tropical disease, a fracture from slipping off a mountain-slope or maybe an insect lay some eggs under my skin. It is nothing of these things. I came to this little hospital in Delhi with the most common disease, a foreigner could have. Diagnosis: Delhi-Belly. It is a quick check-up. The doctor does not care to really ask me any questions. I would love to tell him: “For five weeks I have just been having troubles, no matter what I eat. It started longer before that, but it was fine in between. And… ” “ You have to take this and that medicine and make these tests”. He didn’t even listen. I hardly spent more than five minutes in the building. At least it was quick. In Germany, the queue would be longer. I’d also have to wait for half an hour or so, despite having made an appointment before. Still, I am unhappy with the little effort of the doctor in this Indian hospital. Just what I expected. Seems to be the same everywhere in the world. This is why I generally avoid doctors. At least I could argue that I do not want to do the expensive tests, but first check, if the medicine helps. Why would you prescribe medicine, if you still have to test for the disease, anyways?
Used to difficulties
I don’t want to be a hero or act like I am super-strong and unbreakable, but I often feel like that. Natural arrogance mixed with a good amount of self-confidence, because of the circumstances. Let’s take a look at my current trip: I went to Puri and got in contact with the fishermen there, without any help from anyone I knew. After that, I stayed in a slum in India for a week and slept on a bed on the street. From there, I went to another sweeper community in the busiest state of India. After that, a short stay with my friends and Indian family in Himachal Pradesh gave me a the right energy to move on to Pakistan, where I stayed in an amazing house with the kindest hosts (and the best cup-cakes). Yet, I was busy covering stories, smoking up with Sufis and roaming around. Back in India, I went to the biggest human gathering on earth. By that time, I already had a crazy bacterial infection in my tummy.
It is inevitable to feel a bit invincible after such a trip. Everything somehow turned out fine, no matter how hard the struggles were. I mean, I did not climb Mount Everest or cross Antarctica by feet, but I did go on a top-level cultural expedition. I do not want to miss any of these experiences, even though they were a struggle sometimes. There were days, when I would call up three friends in a row and tell them how much I wanted to leave the situation. And I really wanted it. But I forced myself to endure it just a little bit longer.
Sometimes you have to be weak
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is how I always face situations. I am not a person who thinks about past experiences a lot. “Why did I do this?” or “I wish I did not go there” are two kind of thoughts which hardly come to my mind. I believe that everything makes me grow as a person and everything was a good decision, somehow. Maybe you could call me a sarcastic optimist. I love to moan about what is going on, but tend to look to future me and think “Hey, when you are done with this crap, you will emerge from this more experienced than ever.”
Yet, I learned a little lesson: Sometimes, the present is also important. If I always push my comfort and rest into the future, it will never come. If I always grow and grow, I cannot stop and reap the fruits I sowed. I need to also profit from my own growth every now and then instead of going from one extreme to the next.
A doctor is okay
Even if you are abroad and every day is an adventure: It is okay to also do boring stuff. It is okay to spend a day in the house and relax, do nothing or even swipe through your social media-timelines. Read a book and calm down. Most of all: If you have trouble with your tummy, then what the hell are you waiting for? Go to the doctor. I am a person, who always used to wait for the body to cure itself. Sanitizer is an alien concept for me. There is a good saying: “A flue takes two weeks to cure if you don’t go to the doctor. If you go to the doctor, it will be fine within 14 days.” That might be true or might not be true. But if you have troubles on the toilet for five weeks, you might have waited a little too long. Just like me.
Don’t act like a hero
Here comes the irony: Due to my tummy, I was afraid to travel too much. I did not dare to go on longer bus rides, I did not eat what I loved to eat, and I also felt a little weak and worried. Pretending to be strong actually made me weak and killed the time which I could have used to do something cool or productive. Maybe I’d have shot more amazing images, maybe I could have gotten into a cool story. Yet, I wanted to be strong and just got weaker.
I got a few antibiotics and had to take them for the next five days. After the first night, all my troubles and worries disappeared. It was such a weird situation. Just when I was cured, I realised how much my tummy had bothered me. Three pills healed me within 10 hours. Of course, you have to take antibiotics for the whole period of prescription. Basically, I was already fine in less than a day after I left the doctor. Even though I felt like I could deal with everything on my own, the most ordinary sickness hit me too hard and I needed help. I do not like to say: “Go to the doctor for everything after one day.” Or “Take medicine, you have a cough.” God beware! No, I just want to conclude that maybe after two weeks of sickness, we can admit that we are not invincible. That’s all.