Well, the long stretch of perfect health In My Year of Living Travelly came to a screeching halt after five months.
I gave a lecture two days ago despite a sore and scratchy throat and figured I would shake it off, as I usually do. This cold virus had other plans for me.
Since then, I had to beg out of hosting a dinner table and being a panelist on Liars Club, which I love doing. I missed out on a zodiac adventure yesterday and a shore excursion I really wanted to do today, and have been holed up listlessly in my room, venturing out only for a cup of tea or something to nibble on with no enthusiasm.
Those of you who have known me from my leaching days are probably aware that a few years back I developed chronic inflammation and swelling of the supporting structure for my vocal cords, which causes them not to line up the way they should to produce a strong voice. It was a severe enough problem that I had to give up my full-time teaching jobs several years before I planned to, since I simply cannot project my voice well, or for very long.
Cruise lecturing is fine because I have a headset mike planted right next to my mouth and I don’t have to speak for more than 45 minutes a couple of times a week. The hardest part for me has always been dinner at large tables, since projecting my voice enough to converse feels similar to the strain of yelling with a healthy voice. I often go back to my room quite hoarse after dinner, but I have generally recovered by morning.
But not when a cold makes things worse. If I talk at all in the early stages, I set myself up for the almost dead certainty of a couple of days with total laryngitis. I’m hiding out now not just because I feel like crap, but because I don’t want to have to use my voice at all for the chit chat that is part of life on a ship.
So far so good. I sound like a frog, but I am not down to a squeak. This self-imposed quarantine has also been good for the other passengers as well, since ships have often been called floating petri dishes, and hopefully I won’t spread this around.
This cold came on so soon after the start of the second cruise that I have met almost no one. No dinners, no shore excursions, no team trivia after the first two days. This is a weird one so far, but since the cruise is a full two weeks, I will still have some time to be my usual self and have fun with the folks on board.
The good news is that I don’t have a lecture for two more days, nor another table to host for three. The bad news is that I am missing Alaska! Lucky for me I saw a lot on the leg from Vancouver to Seward, and the new ports are at the end in British Columbia, when presumably I will be my old self again.
One of my unanswered questions about My Year of Living Travelly was if getting sick would put a damper on my enthusiasm and make me wish I could go home. I now have my answer, at least for something as minor as a cold: If you have to crawl into a cave for a few days, why not do it in a bed with fantastic linens and fluffy pillows, a cabin steward, and room service? Sure, being sick is no fun, but my life is as good as ever.