I don’t think it’s wrong to pray on the toilet.
Before my group left for Transylvania, I woke up with a stomach ache. I hobbled to our bathroom, sat on the lid and had a talk with God. I was desperate. I was staring an 8-hour bus ride – no toilet on board – right in the face.
The Eastern European food apparently not settling with my American stomach, I spent the next few days enjoying the mountainous countryside but always keeping an eye out for the next toilet.
Pro tip: Always bring hand sanitizer and tissues when traveling. Toilet paper and soap are not as guaranteed as I thought.
While we were there, a sore throat developed. It didn’t matter that my personal Advil stock was depleted because by this point in the trip, we had a communal pharmacy going.
When we got home to Budapest, the sinus infection began. Then the bronchitis. And a fever.
One of our trip leaders Susanne Parrish made a doctor’s appointment, ordered a taxi and showed up on my doorstep with a cool rag. I normally love the tram, but that day I was thrilled to see the little yellow car taking us to FirstMed Budapest.
We found a normal looking waiting room with a water cooler, reception desk and a kid’s area to the side. They handed me the normal paperwork to fill out. The only difference was normally I hate going to the doctor. But this doctor changed my mind.
He walked me through the trifecta of my virus and prescribed an antibiotic. Then he leaned in and said, “And you’re 19 right? You can still drink with this medication.”
Susanne chimed in at this point. “You don’t have to worry about her.”
So he cupped his hand around his mouth, leaned in again and whispered, “You can still drink.”
Chuckling, I more appreciated his humor and Susanne’s reaction than his license for my alcohol consumption.
He also prescribed a cold Coke and salty food. He made sure to clarify, “This is not healthy long-term. But currently, you need it.”
We walked down the street to Mammut Mall to get meds and a whole arsenal of tissues. I’m convinced Hungarians have tougher noses than me because these felt closer to sandpaper than Kleenex Ultra Soft.
Next stop: Starbucks. We tried to get what Susanne called the “cold buster” – half hot tea, half lemonade and a spoonful of honey.
They didn’t understand her concoction so I sat down, content with a hot chamomile and a blueberry muffin. Sleepy, we trekked back to Susanne’s apartment where Mucinex and a warm bed awaited me.
Susanne and our other trip leader Maxey were my parents for the day. Susanne brought me juice and crackers and Maxey made homemade chicken soup.
When I was ready for Maxey to take me home to my own apartment, they made a care package with bananas, meds and leftovers.
Being sick in a foreign country is not fun. I felt cliché for missing my mom and I was forced to say “No” to my FOMO to get the sleep I neglected on our weekend trips.
But if you’re going to get sick in a foreign country, this is what I learned:
- Research. FirstMed Budapest was friendly, clean and reasonably priced.
- Don’t wait. The faster I could get antibiotics, the faster I could get better.
- Take the taxi. Public transportation is great … until you’re sick and about to fall over into a couple making out.
- Let people take care of you. I had two trip parents care for me, my friend Bailey bring pad thai and my other friend Caleb hand me a liter of Coca Cola.
Of course, it’s much better if you just don’t get sick in the first place.