Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coldcocked by Jet Lag

Considering most folks on this planet spend their days fetching water and looking for firewood to cook a modest meal, I sometimes feel guilty for kvetching about the problems that come from privilege. But hey, they're still problems. And mine is jet lag.

I have travelled quite a bit across the USA, taken red-eyes to NYC, Boston, DC, Miami. I have travelled south, red-eyes to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, all of which have precipitated some fatigue and/or sleep weirdness. But never anything that a few beers with friends or a plate of ceviche and a nap couldn't cure. During all these trips I never travelled across more than three time zones. And when I am in NYC, I always stay up late with friends so it's less of an issue. But a direct flight from the US west coast to Europe has absolutely kicked my ass and I did not see it coming.

I now think being in three different countries in the first five days was a bad plan. And my Monday morning quarter-backing has me swearing I will never again take a direct 13 hour flight from San Francisco to London, or anywhere else on this globe, unless it's a damn emergency. I will be stopping in NYC next time - dinner and drinks with friends and a good night's sleep before hopping the pond. Even if it costs more time and money.

Since landing in London a week ago I have been sick, nauseous about 80% of my waking hours. And several times I have thought I was going to puke. And I am not usually a puker. I don't get seasick. I don't puke from booze (tequila has been a rare exception). Even when I am sick in the gut, I don't usually puke. But I found myself sweating and trying to think happy thoughts on the London underground while I also considered where to aim if nature demanded that I purge. And it happened again today while walking towards the Van Gogh Museum - the sweats, the "where could I most inconspicuously barf should I have to" thoughts,  I turned back towards Ana's apartment where I arrived with my stomach intact. So instead of contemplating the work of one of my favorite artists, I spent the day nibbling on crackers and reading, waiting for it all to pass, so to speak. Van Gogh would have to wait until tomorrow. By evening I was feeling better and Ana and I had a nice dinner (sans alcohol) at a sidewalk restaurant.

All this was starting to get me a bit concerned, thinking there was something really wrong with me, that maybe I have a bug that needs some antibiotics. I decided to google "jet lag" to see if that was possibly a factor. Um, yeah Mer, you pretty much got a bad case of the jet lag. My research revealed that all my symptoms could be attributed to the 'lag.

I've never thought much about jet lag, figured it was solely a sleep thing that I would quickly recover from with a couple of naps. Not so much. Jet lag is a real physiological disorder that can disorient and really fuck with a travelers body. And the fact that my first five days were non-stop running about, I didn't give myself a chance to recover from my 13 hour flight across eight timezones. And speaking of timezones, the experts say it takes about a day to recover for each timezone crossed. That would be eight days for me. I am on day seven. And I have a good feeling about tomorrow, day eight. It's Ana's birthday, Van Gogh is waiting, the weather is good, and I have taken two days to slow down and chill out. I think tomorrow peace will be declared, between my body and Greenwich meantime, plus one. I hope.

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