Our Italy trip seemed to involve a gut-replacement as we slept.
The 2nd day we awoke from our anniversary trip a little "out of sorts".
So, naturally, being in Italy for pure fun we started the day with a lot of very strong coffee. But back home our strongest brew was like weak compared to the coffees and espressos we drank all day long in Italy. Yet, we loved the energy and enjoyed the jolt it temporarily provided.
We were in Italy to enjoy our personal history together and the awesome birthplace of the 14th and 15th century cultural Renaissance that was soon to influence much of the world. We traveled from one museum to the next reacquainting ourselves with the thinkers and philosophers, the artisans and the architects.
Day 3 began with our unbridled enthusiasm to walk everywhere, to duck into corner bars the size of our master bedroom, to chance a new restaurant where nothing on the menu made sense, to explore and to test new drinks. Despite all this fabulous stimulation & excitement, we were feeling increasingly uncomfortable.
Was it the jetlag? Yes, that must have been part of it. We were also sure it would dissipate as our bodies adjusted to new rhythms of time, sleep and life in Italy.
Was it the new stresses we were experiencing? (After all, it was a new language we did not understand; a new culture we had never experienced; new people, foods, drinks, noises at night, transportation challenges, etc.).
All these things conspired to put us ‘off our game’ and, yes, for the first time in my life I felt stressed by all of it. Stress back home was nominal. This adventure was stress-on-steroids. I’d call it “merriment-induced stress,” a part of that well-known, oft experienced malady known as “TMF” (too much fun!).
Did stress cause our soon to be identified digestive challenges? Something did. And neither of us had ever had any issues like this back home. Thankfully we were actually in good health, so this was quite surprising.
Day by day we felt worse: our routines were off; new twinges of pain and bloating and even gas. That's not the half of it, but I'm going to stop here.
One days 11 & 12, our routine had radically changed. Our new routine was to awaken and eat, and start our exploration of several new pharmacies, trying to communicate and hopefully buy something over-the-counter to help us feel better digestibly. It was like our anniversary had devolved into a “twilight zone” tour of pharmacies.
Day 13 we began our two-day trip home. No airport shops in Italy, Germany, England or even in America carried any products for digestive health.
Arriving home, I bolted straight to the large-chain drugstore up the street. I bought a little of everything in the laxative and dietary supplement aisles.
It took another two weeks before we began to feel well, and have our hope renewed that life could possibly be normal again.
And then we discovered we weren't alone. Apparently, over half of Americans get sick when they travel! This didn't seem right.
Friends were getting weary of us describing, on one hand, our fabulous adventures in Italy; but on the other hand, our too descriptive complaints about our digestive distresses.
Finally, one friend asked if I was a food or nutrition scientist. (He knew I wasn't.) When I said “no,” he said, “Then shut the h*ll up about all this or go talk to someone who knows what they are talking about.” (I bet you have well-intentioned, trusted friends like this too.)
Great advice. And then he referred us to such a scientist and our world dramatically changed. More to come. Stay tuned (or should I say “tuned-up?”). You’ll see what I mean in my next blog.
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