End of an Era or, It was Fun While It Lasted

     From the middle of September to the middle of October, Jim and I went on another cruise adventure.  We always have enjoyed traveling on cruise ships mainly because of the fact that our room travels with us.  That way, if I am not feeling well or am exhausted, I can easily rest.  An added bonus, watching the sea pass by and change every day is always relaxing and interesting.  This last trip was different, in addition to the usual photos, memories, gifts and souvenirs, we brought home something that will probably change our travel from now on.
     The cruise we were on was a repositioning cruise that would bring the ship from Europe to the US for the winter season.  These types of cruises are favorites of ours because we not only see fantastic sights in Europe, we cross the Atlantic ocean.  This cruise we traveled around the British Isles, cruised to the Azores then across the ocean to Florida.  We saw so many wonderful things and we went to places I have always wanted to see.  The first half of the trip was perfect.
     Then things took a turn.  It started with a shingles outbreak.  I always can tell when I am about to get an outbreak of shingles, I have had enough to know.  The shingles told me that my body was under stress.  The stress turned out to be physical stress of trying to overcome an illness that was running through the passengers on the ship.  I very quickly realized that I was very sick.  I spent two sea days in bed, not eating and trying to sleep off my fever, coughing and congestion.  I tried hard to get back to my friends and family who were traveling with us.  As we crossed the ocean, I rested and took antibiotics to help me get well.  But I didn't.
     By the time we reached Florida I thought I was feeling better.  The warm sunshine seemed to re-energize me.  When we flew home, I thought I was over the bug that I caught weeks before.  Then, within a couple of days of being home, I once again began feeling awful.  I had a slight fever and no appetite.  And worse, what ever this bug was, it began to travel from my lungs to my sinuses.  After days of this, I went to a doctor who diagnosed a sinus infection and prescribed a strong course of antibiotics.  These antibiotics may have fought the bug but they also caused the worst diarrhea I have ever had (and I have had a lot).  And still I felt like crap (literally)...  After I was done with the antibiotics I thought I was getting better.  That was until my right ear plugged and I lost hearing.  I went to an ENT who diagnosed an ear infection and because of the pressure in my ear, he poked a hole in my ear drum and sent me home with antibiotic ear drops.  And still I didn't get well.  Again I went to a doctor who again put me on antibiotics.  This time, I started to feel better.
     I had emailed my sister from the cruise on October 8th saying that I was sick.  It is now over a month since that email.  The bug seems finally to be losing it's grip but I am weak and always tired.  I have lost over 10 pounds and all my energy plus I have lost the will to leave the house.
     This was not the first time I have gotten sick on a long cruise.  The stress of getting to the ship, being in a closed environment on an airplane, spending time with people who cough into their hands then refuse to wash them (proving that money does not buy class) and then the closed environment on the tour busses.  All these things contribute to the risk of getting sick.  And, because of my compromised immune system, I usually end up sick.  This time however, the illness was the worst and I finally realized that this type of travel was not good for my health. 
     So, now I am still at home recovering and I wonder if travel will ever be an option for me.  I will always be afraid of becoming ill and not being able to enjoy travel.  And, of course, illness is not a souvenir I want ever again.  I am depressed and sad, I am afraid and scared.  I really want to see more of the world with the man I love and yet, is it worth my health?  Will I spend the rest of my life at home, wishing I was traveling somewhere else?  Maybe time will ease my fears and maybe not.  For now, I have photos and memories and a wonderful man to share them with!

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