My triumphant return from Ireland was marred somewhat by the fact that I woke up on my last day in Dublin feeling horrifically ill. It wasn’t entirely clear whether it was the flu or a nasty cold and sore throat combined with the migraine I’d been battling for a week already, but it wasn’t fun.
And it made it pretty hard to make the most of my last day wandering the city, too, as I kept having to stop and lean against the wall so that I didn’t fall over due to dizziness. I ended up cutting the day a little short and going back to the hostel to surreptitiously nap in the reception area until it was time to collect my stuff from the luggage room and head to the airport.
And the flight — that was bad. I’ve had ear problems ever since an ear infection in late 2011, so pressure tends to get me no matter what the circumstances, but flying while ill was a thousand times worse. It felt like my eardrums were being pierced with rusty screws. I started crying at one point, the pain was so bad, and yet when I looked around me, none of my fellow passengers seemed to be suffering at all.
So. Getting ill sucked. It meant that by the time I got home I was ready to sleep and/or cry, especially as I turned out to have a fever of 38.4°. (My normal body temperature is fairly low, around 36.5°, so this is higher than it seems.)
It means I haven’t yet put my photos on the computer to sort through, or written up a report of what I did before I forget the details. (It means I’m only just getting around to blogging, and already I’ve forgotten some of what I wanted to say.)
It means that, barring some unavoidable socialisation due to preexisting arrangements with relatives, I’ve done nothing much since I got home except sleep and hope that the illness eventually buggers off.
My ears still feel super weird and full of gunk, but my temperature just now was 36.7°, which is the lowest it’s been since I started taking it this time around. I think it’ll be a little while longer before I’m better, but there’s been progress. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll make it out of bed before 4pm.
In the meantime, I’d like to report that I did talk to people after writing my last post. Maybe not the very last day, but after I wrote the post, I went to the Chester Beatty library, which had been recommended to me by a stranger on a bus (and it was awesome). I got talking to someone in my hostel dorm and we had a lot in common, to the point where we’ve added each other on Facebook — the only person I’ve met in a hostel this trip that I’ve actually got a way to stay in touch with.
I even cooked dinner in the terrifying kitchen, though it was a process complicated by the difficulties of making mash without (a) a potato peeler or (b) any milk.
Maybe my last day in Dublin wasn’t the greatest, and maybe I’ve been more bedridden for the last few days than I would’ve liked, but this trip was a big deal for me and I managed it. I flew by myself, took cross-country buses by myself, stayed in shared hostel dorms by myself. I navigated cities and airports and museums. I made food even when gluten-free supplies were difficult to find. I had panic attacks in shared kitchens and then I went back and made dinner anyway. I went to pubs, alone, and joined in sessions with musicians who didn’t know me or my tunes.
This trip hasn’t cured my anxiety. It hasn’t even helped — I’m still a total mess, and I had some points during the trip that forced me to accept I’m actually worse than I sometimes convince myself I am. But it did prove to me that my anxiety doesn’t have to stop me from doing stuff at all.
And sure, I got ill, but with my immune system I’m genuinely surprised I made it to the last day before picking anything up.
I hope soon to write a bit more reflecting on the trip, and on my experiences with pain and Oideas Gael and Newgrange and so on. It might take a few days, as I have a ton of stuff that needs doing which has been neglected due to illness. But I’ll get there.
In the meantime, here’s a picture of the view from the roof garden on the Chester Beatty library. Proof that taking tips from strangers on buses can be worth it.