Tuesday, August 29, 2017

In which I have a disastrous vacation

As a treat, to celebrate the end of what I knew would be a difficult summer, I booked a mini vacation in Buffalo so that I could attend a family reunion of my mother's side of my family. I was looking forward to getting together with cousins I haven't seen in years. I also bought a ticket to the Silo City Vertical tour, in which you get to climb to the top of some of the abandoned grain elevators on the Buffalo River. The tour warns that you can't be afraid of heights, and must be able to climb 100 feet and ascend a ladder, but I thought I could handle it.

When I planned this trip, I didn't realize that Charlottesville would be invaded by terrorists and that I would be somewhat of a wreck over it. I'll fill you in in a later post about what has been happening in Charlottesville lately, but we are a seriously traumatized community. And I don't know if this contributed to what happened to me this weekend, but I do have a history of experiencing complete physical collapse in the face of great stress. Not that these are imaginary illnesses - they're real - but stress does compromise the immune system.

Landing over beautiful Lake Erie

I arrived in Buffalo Friday afternoon and had dinner with my mother-in-law. I stayed in an airbnb apartment in downtown Buffalo - a very nice urban apartment on a street that one wouldn't have dreamed of living on back when I was still living in Buffalo.

Saturday, I had big plans to eat an indulgent breakfast at my favorite cafe and then do the Silo City Vertical tour. Later, I was supposed to have dinner with my father and his wife and my brother and sister. I woke up with a terrible headache, which I believed was the result of drinking a glass of wine with my mother-in-law, while also being dehydrated from flight. Drinking water didn't help, so I napped instead of going to breakfast and managed to get myself up and out for the tour, but I had a bad feeling about it.

Ominously we were all given flashlights and warned about a 100-foot spiral staircase. "Anyone have vertigo? Anyone?" I didn't speak up and stayed for the first bit of the tour, where we stayed on the ground and heard the history of how Buffalo became a great shipping center, but I was feeling steadily worse and had begun yawning excessively, which is something I do before I throw up. (Curious - does anyone else yawn a lot before vomiting?) As we were about to begin the ascent, I spoke up and said I couldn't continue on the tour. The guides were so kind and said I could return the next day if I was feeling better. So I left, and I know I made the right decision because I threw up in the car as I was driving home. (Add the intersection of Michigan Ave & Swan St to the list of public places I've thrown up in.) Despite being ill, I did manage to take a few pictures.

Seen at the entrance to "silo city" Classic Buffalo.

It's amazing how an abandoned industrial site can be so beautiful

Buffalo River - we used to row past these silos when I was a rower
I was astonished that this huge vertical structure was on rails and could move.
In the distance are the General Mills elevators - still active and where Cheerios are baked to this day.
The wind off Lake Erie sends the smell of baking Cheerios miles inland through the city.

I spent the rest of the day in bed with cold sweats and vomiting and an excruciating headache. I was too sick to read. I looked at my phone a bit but the news about Houston and the pardon of Joe Arpaio made me feel even worse and I felt guilty about feeling so bad when others were much worse off. To be alone and sick is very frightening, and to be alone and sick in a strange apartment away from home is even more frightening. My sister offered to bring ginger ale and other aid, but I declined. I didn't even think I could get down the stairs to let her into my building. Of course I had many sympathetic texts from Jon, but there really wasn't anything he could do to help. I began to be afraid for my safety. My neck was killing me. What if I had meningitis? What if I became so dehydrated I developed an altered mental status? I'd drunk half a glass of water over the course of the day and thrown most of it back up. I realized I'd forgotten to bring my insurance card. I was too weak to even turn over in bed. It was horrible.

Sunday morning, I felt marginally less awful but was still throwing up. This time, I accepted my sister's offer of help. She didn't even have a car and took an Uber to my apartment and brought ginger ale, saltines, Advil and stayed with me for a bit, until it was time for her to go to the reunion picnic. I was able to keep down sips of ginger ale and later attempted a saltine and the Advil. By evening, I was well enough to take a shower and take the rental car out to top off the gas tank. I made it on time to my 6:30 am flight out of Buffalo and got home to Charlottesville without incident, although I still felt a bit woozy. I had a planned vacation day for today (Tuesday) and I still don't feel great - my face hurts - but I'm definitely on the mend. Ugh, what a waste.


  1. What a nightmare! I think you started vomiting after visiting Iceland, too. Obviously the solution is to never leave town. You can just stay here and projectile vomit all over the Nazis.

    1. I did! It started on the way home. I might be done with solo travel.

  2. You're just like me - I can never just be sick, I have to be sick and then feel worse because the world is such a mess and disadvantaged people don't have a prayer of being able to be sick in comfortable surroundings the way I can. NOT NORMAL. Also, I have a stomach thing right now, thanks, and I hope to God it doesn't get as bad as yours.

    1. I know right? I'm lying there dying, and thinking, "STOP BEING A BABY AT LEAST YOU'RE NOT IN WAIST DEEP WATER." I hope your stomach thing clears up quickly!

  3. Didn't this happen last time you went on a solo vacation? Maybe your solo trips need to stay closer to home until you break this trend.

    That said, there has been a stomach bug going around - my girl had it last week.

    Also? I'm absolutely done with all the BS in this town.

    1. Yes! I got sick on the way home from Iceland. I agree about the BS. It looks like Mayor Signor is going to get his walking papers, but I don't think he is solely responsible for the disaster. He is certainly partially responsible though and he NEVER should have had those people arrested and dragged out of the city council meeting.

    2. The middle school wanna be Trump style of how they've been running the city is embarrassing. I agree, they are all equally responsible and all of them need to go.

  4. Oh, no! Sorry to hear your vacation was spoiled by being ill. What you did manage to do and take pictures of really makes me want to visit Buffalo, though. (Since you asked: Yes, I yawn a lot before I get the kind of migraine that makes me sick.) Hope you are feeling better!