I had been looking forward to a restful 10 days in the beautiful southwest of England after an intense week of traveling, rats, and work in Ethiopia. Just great, I muttered to myself as I reached for the cough drops from my perch on the toilet. I get a spasmodic cough and diarrhea. Thanks a lot, Ethiopia!
Fortunately the cottage had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and Lynn had insisted I take the suite upstairs, from whence I hoped they couldn’t hear any bodily sound effects.
As I reached, my eye fell on the bold-faced notice on the cough drops. “WARNING: Do not exceed recommended dose. Excessive use may cause severe diarrhea.” The dose was one cough drop every four hours; I had sucked down 12 in four hours.
I’m sorry, Ethiopia! It wasn’t you, it was me. I’m an idiot.
I felt better by the time our friend Possum arrived, and thought it would be a good idea to drink some wine with her and Lynn on the patio just in case I wasn’t completely dehydrated.
Possum, as you may have guessed, is Australian. She’s lived in England forever and works for Oxfam. Normally very bubbly, she seemed subdued. We were both cranky that we couldn’t get internet.
Possum had been wrangling with the router. “False advertising!” she declared.
“They said it would be intermittent because of the remote location,” Lynn said.
“But it’s nonexistent. That’s just not on!” Possum groused.
“I really need to work while I’m here,” I bemoaned.
“It’s very naughty of them,” said Lynn. “I specifically booked this place because it promised internet, even though it wasn’t steady. Possum, are you okay? You look knackered.”
“I feel a bit funny,” Possum acknowledged. “I’ve got a pain in my back, just here,” she indicated with her hand.
Lynn and I proceeded to suggest various things. Was she dehydrated? Had she pulled a muscle? Maybe her back was sore from sitting in the car on the road for so long. No, no, no, Possum insisted. “It started yesterday, so it’s not from the driving.”
She went into the cottage and lay down on the floor. Lynn and I continued to drink wine and talk, figuring there was nothing we could do to help.
Possum emerged half an hour later, looking drawn. “It’s a bit worse,” she said.
“Maybe you should call your GP?” Lynn suggested. GP=General Practitioner.
“No, no,” it’s nothing, I’m sure. “I’ll just lie down some more,” Possum said, trying to seem cheery.
Lynn and I finished off the bottle of wine and some nibbles and then I, having been up all night and all day, excused myself to go to bed.
“I hope you feel better, Possum,” I whispered gently as I tiptoed past her on the floor.
“You too, Annie,” she whispered back.
The next morning. Whenever Lynn and I travel together I always wake her up because I’m an early riser and I just can’t help making noise. Today was no exception.
“Did you hear the doctor last night?” whispered Lynn when she came out of the bedroom she was sharing with Possum.
“What? No! A doctor, here in the house?”
“Yes, she finally called the NHS and they sent this bloke out to look at her, and she has kidney stones!”
“Oh no, poor Possum! Man, do I ever feel guilty! We should have made her call a doctor right away. I’ve heard kidney stones are as painful as giving birth!”
“I know, I know” replied Lynn. “But the good news is that he gave her some drugs to manage the pain until she can get back to Oxford for more treatment.”
“Yikes. I don’t know if it’s a good idea for her to drive,” I answered. “But I can’t drive, and we can’t leave her car here. Was the doctor good looking?”
“Mmmm…I don’t know,” Lynn answered. “He was well dressed and had nice hair.”
As we had this important discussion I made coffee and eggs and toast. It’s important to keep your strength up so you can be there for your friends.