right after my birthday, i suddenly got really sick. and i mean no voice, sore throat, stuffy head, runny nose, dizzy, i-just-wanna-be-horizontal-all-the-time sort of sick. and no, it wasn't a hangover---wine on the rooftop was as wild as we got that night!
i think my body, without my consent, was just like yep. this place is nice. perfect timing to shut down and reboot.
and this just makes me realize and appreciate how incredibly intuitive my body is.
first of all, THANK GOD it didn't happen during our little hitchhiking fiasco. it waited until after i got to the comfiest place in the world, and immediately after my birthday, so i was able to celebrate, sniffle-free. perfect! ...well, as perfect as getting sick in the middle of backpacking across europe can be :)
also, a couple days after my birthday, noelle flew back to barcelona to meet up with the gypsy crew to go to pamplona for san fermin. i was meant to go, too. but ever since vlad proposed the idea that first week, i secretly wasn't so sure about it. i read the sun also rises before coming to europe, so i said YES at first, because... hemingway... yanno? just, hemmingway. i was also in a very YES mindset because, why not, right?
but as time went on and the time for pamplona got closer, i started following the wind further away. i went north to the mountains, and then more north to paris. scotty and the girls came to paris and tried to convince me to ride back to spain with them, but my french lover put up a very convincing argument for me to stay... so i stayed. and then noelle came and i continued even more north with her to holland.
when the time came for us to decide about san fermin, i was very resistant. i didn't want to turn back. i imagined the effort and the money it'd take to travel to spain again and then hitch to pamplona. i thought of the discomfort of partying all day and sleeping in the streets for a week. and i wasn't even too keen on all the bull shenanigans. actually, i think it's cruel and barbaric. so i was leaning toward definitely no...
and then i got sick and that was cemented. that was my body telling me it wasn't the right direction for me. and i'm so grateful. i stayed in holland to recover while noelle went, against her own intuition as well. and i'll just say, it ended exactly as we thought it would. they had to hitchhike there, stay out partying all night, and sleep in parks during the day. they all had precious belongings stolen and broken... but there were high points, too--scotty and vlad ran with the bulls and had quite the adrenaline rush. so it was worth it for the boys, and that's awesome. but noelle wasn't the hugest fan. and i would've been a little miserable...
so instead, i stayed put. i drank gallons of dutch tap water, while my stubborn head cold stuck around for over a week. BUT i was okay with that, because it gave me time to write and reflect--exactly what i'd been craving since spain.
and then right as my cold got better, i got a gnarly eye infection from stubbornly never changing my contacts... but after a few days of that, and after all those days of being sick, i was SO OVER being inside that i went out anyway--zombie eye and all. to my surprise, i still got hit on a fair bit. it baffled me, truly... so i came to the conclusion that maybe guys in holland are used to girls looking blazed? i don't know, i digress.
the good news is, i've become extraordinarily good at manifesting things i need, right when i need them. really, it's a bit scary...
a few days after my eye got red (aka a week of refusing to go to the doctor), i went out to the bar for that same couchsurfing meet up, but with scarlett this time. i wore my glasses and let my hair hang over the right half of my face, to not scare onlookers... haha! i certainly didn't intend on getting cute with anyone, and didn't even necessarily want to talk to anyone new. i just wanted to not be resting on a couch anymore.
but then i recognized a certain giant. a certain 6'8 dutch pal from last week. i didn't think he'd recognize me, but he greeted me like an old friend. i spent most the night talking with him. as fate would have it, he just happened to be a doctor---a cardiologist in particular, but a doctor nonetheless. even though optometry obviously wasn't his specialty, he looked at my eye and told me about the way a cornea works. he said i definitely needed antibiotics and that i should see an optometrist. he even gave me info on a specific one to go to.
after some more talking and drinking, this wonderful (and now somewhat drunk) cardiologist diagnosed me with a heart murmur......... yayyyy!!!
no, really... YAYYYY. fucking finally.
side story: all throughout college, i had issues that really plagued me and that i went to get checked out by doctors. i figured the issues were definitely heart related, since my mom has something called mitral valve prolapse (which is hereditary), and her symptoms are quite similar. i went to the doctor multiple times (which isn't easy for a struggling college student), but had really awful experiences. the doctors never really gave me the time of day and made me feel like i was inconveniencing them. the first time i went and told my symptoms, the doctor assumed it was anxiety and tried prescribing me anti-depressants... no, sir, i'm definitely not depressed. the second time, the doctor assumed it was asthma and prescribed me an inhaler before even doing any asthma testing on me. after the tests came back negative, that was it... nothing progressed from there. so i got discouraged and gave up trying to figure out what it was, because these doctors made me feel like i was crazy and that there was nothing wrong with me. they checked my heart and said it sounded normal.
but this night--this very impromptu, last-minute, fuck-it-let's-go kind of night--i finally got an answer. i just happened to stumble upon a young cardiologist in a bar in holland (after months of trying to get to one in the states, but never getting a doctor's referral), who simply put his ear to my chest and could hear immediately that there is something a little off beat in there. a heart murmur. a free diagnosis. the irony! I LOVE THAT.
when he told me, i just laughed---i laughed out of pure RELIEF, like i'd just accomplished something, or finally heard the punchline to a long, tedious joke---which clearly confused the hell out of this guy. this is the happiest girl to ever be diagnosed with a heart condition!
i told him about all the times i'd had my heart listened to by doctors and all the times they said i was perfectly fine. all the times they tried to prescribe me something else. he immediately burst out, "THOSE BASTARDS."
he listened again, to be sure, and had scarlett listen, too. there it was--a definitive murmur. although he'd been drinking and his judgement wasn't as sharp as it could've been, this cardiologist specializes in distinguishing different types of murmurs. listening to the heart is his thing. he had no agenda. no reason to tell me this if it weren't true. no prescriptions to hand out like free candy. i believe that over those doctors i spoke to ANY damn day.
he simply suggested i go get an ultra sound of my heart to be sure that everything is functional despite the murmur---a suggestion from a friend to another friend. because he cared. he made me promise... and i did.
so when i go back to the states and see yet another doctor, it'll only be because this tall, drunken dutch angel cardiologist of mine told me to :)