It’s not unusual for someone to get sick on one of our family holidays. In fact, it’s pretty much par for the course and one of the favorite gotchas used by the Travel Gods. As a result, I take with me on overseas travel a medicine kit that is the stuff of legend. Many a trip with colleagues had them ignoring my warnings about drinking the water and ended with me sending a few Lomotil and a couple of bananas up to their room prior to my handling the day’s meetings solo or hitting the local museum for a lovely day on my own.

So this trip, I had antibiotics,  decongestants, antihistamines, tamiflu, lomotil, pepto, nyqull, dayquill, robitussin, ibuprofen, and every size bandage made in America.  I was prepared for just about anything.   So what happens?   I get sick.  Not just sick – embarrassingly sick, and I didn’t have the correct stuff with me.

On the flight over to Italy, I noticed it was difficult to pop my ears. Gotta love pressurization,so I didn’t think anything more of it. Until the second day in Florence. Never having had  ear problems in my life, I wasn’t sure what this was. No problem, I thought. I took a couple of ibuprofen and a sudafed, and figured all would be well. Ear stuff is for other people’s kids – not me.   I left all that behind more than years than I care to admit.

Halfway through the Pitti Palace museum, I realized I was wrong and admitted defeat. Remembering pharmacists in Italy could prescribe medications for most minor ailments, Vlad and I hot-footed it to the nearest Farmacia. Two very nice gentlemen were behind the counter. The younger spoke some English, and the elder (obviously Papa) was the one with the most experience, but with little language skills. After a lot of back and forth about my symptoms, (how many ways can I say “it hurts!” in English, French and Spanish pointing to the ear?) the two gentlemen went off to caucus. The younger man soon returned with a box and said “two drops three times daily. 7 euros”. That was it. No request for my insurance card, or arguments about coverage. Apparently if you get sick here, you get medicine. What a concept!

Gee – at home I would go to my GP and listen to a lecture about how it was my fault I was in this situation, and if I would just cut back on my salt intake, all my problems would be over. I almost felt cheated.

We went back to the hotel and I put the two drops in and immediately the pain decreased. Wow. Bliss. All without an argument. I either need a new GP or a new health plan.

Gotta go do my drops. But I can have salt with my dinner! It’s not too bad, all things considered…