All posts tagged: germs

Bad Street Food Nearly Killed Me Until Celine Dion Saved My Life

So this is how I die: assassination by brunch. Murder by poop. Wrung dry yet drenched in sweat. Alone. Cheek pressed against the cool tile floor. Whoever finds me won’t know who I am. I carry no identification. At the moment, I’m not even wearing pants. I miss my parents. I don’t want to die here. I want to hug my best friend. I want to see Nebraska again. I want to have sex again. (But maybe not in Nebraska.) Hours pass. I try to stand but can’t. With my fingertip, I seek my pulse. Still alive. I check my watch and calculate the hours until my bus leaves. The bus that will take me to a city, to an airport. Home. I am not going to make it, I tell myself. I’m not sure I’ll even make it out of this room. This is how I die. And then she comes to me. Hazy at first, a swirl of colors before my eyes. Soon enough, I can make out her angular face, the little …

Top 5 Ways to Survive Sickness While Traveling

If I could give you advice, it would be to travel as often as you can. Traveling and living in multiple cities has always been a life goal of mine. Some years, chasing that goal entails multi-country tours. Others, it means staying in one place to soak up much of the local atmosphere as I can. From summer internships in Spain, business trips in Latin America, living in France while pregnant, and educational sojourns to Asia, I have learned much about the art and adaptability of travel from my journeys. Such experiential education becomes even more important to apply when you become ill while traveling. I don’t mean the headache or hangover type of ill. I mean the I-want-to-be-in-my-bed-with-my-doctor-and-mother-on-speed-dial type of ill. Now that I’m a parent, it’s even more important for me to be prepared prior to and during travel. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot. Here are my top 5 tips for dealing with illness while on the road. 1.  Ask about special amenities for the sick. Airports sometimes have accelerated immigration for the …

Bacterial, Fungal or Viral? That Is the Question

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com) I already had a backache during Donna Shalala’s plenary session at the 11th International AIDS Conference. During my flight to Seattle a few days earlier, I noticed I was particularly uncomfortable. But who isn’t on a transcontinental flight? Over the next week, I grew so ill that I had to lie in the hotel bed all day with the curtains drawn. I couldn’t stand the light of day. I felt like the very air I was breathing was toxic. If I take one more breath, I thought, the poisonous atmosphere might kill me. My back and my neck and my brain all hurt like nothing I had ever felt before. It was even worse than the worse migraine I had ever experienced — and those typically felt like someone was stabbing an ice pick through my forehead and rubbing the back of my eyeballs with a cheese grater. I was present at the conference as a representative of Philadelphia’s needle exchange program, one of the first in the country. More than …

What It’s Really Like to Be a Germophobe

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com) I have a thing with germs. Many things, actually. Like Kim Kardashian’s ass, germs are nearly impossible to avoid if you want to interact with the modern world. Every street corner, coffee cup, toothbrush, dollar bill, door handle, work surface and orifice (whether human or animal) is simply teeming with unseen bacteria, possible parasites and other predatory pathogens. Or even just plain dirt. And you can’t escape it. It’s not that I’m prissy. I just can’t help but sense germs everywhere I go — and try to avoid them. I’m like Monk with boobs. In case you think I’m exaggerating, here, in no particular order, is a collection of my admittedly neurotic germ issues and thoughts: Let’s begin in the bedroom, shall we? Despite my despotic clean-freak neurosis, I know that my bed is hot bed of germ warfare. All beds are, and that’s a fact that will keep you up at night. My number bed-germ rule is this: No handbags on my bed. Ever. Ever-ever. No exceptions. Your bag goes …

Learning to Love My Bugs

(Photo: Adrianna Dufay/TueNight) If you asked me which era of the great sweep of human history I would prefer to live in, I would have a two-word answer: Anti. Biotics. You can keep your Renaissance, your Industrial Revolution, your Paleolithic Eden. You can also keep your streptococcal pneumonia, your abscessed incisors and your untreatable UTIs. Give me the modern age. The one with penicillin, toothpaste and Pinterest. I wouldn’t have had a prayer of inventing a steam-powered loom or stalking a saber tooth back in the day anyway. I would have expired horribly at the age of three after having stepped on the shaman’s pointy poop-stirring stick — I KNOW IT. Despite my conviction, though, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the other side of the story. The anti anti-biotic side, if you will. In fact, I’ve come to love my germs. Our story begins six years ago with an unremarkable sinus infection. The holidays were coming, the days were full and my nasal cavities were jammed up with that sticky sweet mucus that we all know …