Travelin' Hygiene - The Brink Of ...

In my series of all things TMI while abroad I move onto things out of ones control. Yes, the "habits" of being human. We both had our own unique ones that we had to deal with. Deal as in co-habitate and try to ignore. Just as my travel companion had to deal with my love affair for bathing tools and hair products - I had to deal with her reliance on tissue of any kind to combat her nose. However, her nose problem interfered with my grossly TMI but gloriously miraculous problem. Now look I've already discussed looking for long term underwear and us sharing tampons. So if you dare go on don't say I didn't warn you…

In 2009, I dealt with an ongoing issue with my colon. Of course I only found out about that after dealing with a quandary of reproductive issues. Now before this I was your average girl yet almost bionic. I'd never had a broken bone, the flu and I had gotten chicken pox rather late in life. I'd also continually worked one or two jobs, went to school full time and frequented the gym about five days a week. Now I was running from doctor to doctor and totally not myself. I wound up having several surgeries, a 40 lb. weight gain and an extreme lifestyle change. I've tried to forget about it and just move on realizing that I am a different person but things have been rather difficult. Mentally it has always been a little discouraging to know who you were but never figure out how to get back to that. The biggest factor with having so many medical issues especially related to your general abdomen is that you live in fear … forever. Your palate does a 180, you loathe most if not all dairy products and you lose the ability to control your regularity. So for the past five years, I have had to take extreme measures to manage what everyone else does naturally. In fact, Europe was the only thing that sort of recalculated my body. But while there I endured a very private torture that unfortunately had to be shared with my temporary roomie. 

Now as much as we'd been bedfellows (the occasional sleep over, stay cations, NYC trips) in years past I never had to explain my issues and she never explained hers. She sometimes had an apologetic sneezing fit at work or I ate my afternoon probiotic while we brisk walked - totally normal, "first world problems". I had become reliant on yogurt to assure me normality - doctors orders even. France made it too easy but in Spain I had to go shopping for it. She experienced the nastiest ongoing running nose that even a bully would take pity in. She was basically slave to Kleenex while abroad. Frankly, at home I'd never ever noticed just how dependent she was on tissue products. Well, I only noticed when my problem came to a head and there was an empty toilet paper roll. There was nothing like getting up at 7am to succumb to last nights Shiraz and seeing that. Bare in mind I'm feeling around in the dark to get my glasses, then my slippers, tip-toeing as to not wake her and then getting to my porcelain palace to find … nothing. Seriously, thank goodness for bidets but there was no joy in finding that secondary roll was depleted too. Then it was about fighting the urge, putting on clothes and going to a early morning front desk where your native language is like fourth on the list to negotiate a hasty supply. I've never been so humiliated and annoyed at the same time. This happened so many times I cannot count. And then there was an epiphany. We both stopped trying to be girly about it.

She revealed that she was so reliant on tissue that it was budgeted into her weekly finances. I revealed that approximately so many times a day especially after my daily yogurt regimen I was compelled to go. It was now understood. So we began to ask for double doses of normal housekeeping supply and if there was actually nose tissue we'd take several of those too. It took some time to get into this routine because we'd had the luxury of being house guests. She'd been amongst friends who provided her what she needed to get by especially sleeping nearest to a bulldog and an outside garden. I'd been gifted with an endless supply of travel tissue packs so much so I'd given her half the supply. Now far from the Carrefours of France and the Walgreens of the rest of the world (as we knew it) we were forced to rely on each other. And of course once communication fizzled we we're back at square one playing roulette with the roll. At times, I didn't even bother to say a thing trusting more in the availability of cheap bodega bebe wipes. Finally in Seville, we wondered looking for a pharmacy that could supply her endless faucet. I had run out of my generous supply of travel Kleenex and she could care less that I was stuck looking at an empty roll. In Italy, it was every woman for herself.

I seriously hope to never be put in the situation as listed above. I never want to explain how five years ago I lost my trust in personal excretion. I also don't ever want to be in the company of someone with extreme allergies. I for one experience the occasional morning snot but an all day affair with sniffling and sneezes is not my cup of tea. But hey in comparison, she had nothing on me. I swear at times she gained a maternal instinct for my need to go. She could even pin point it to what I had eaten and provide me privacy. There were even instances where she would suggest reading materials to "inspire" my me time. Just as I would always carry a pack of tissue with me and offer it before she asked. As shitty as we could have been to each other - no pun intended - we we're actually rather thoughtful … most of the time. 

So in conclusion, if you have something that persists inform your travel mate early. It may seem quite uncomfortable explaining your needs but why wait until you are in a state of complete panic about it. All I can say is at least I was in my own apparthotel when I experienced off brand bottled bolognese sauce for the first time. I'm also certain she was quite pleased to be alone for her European jet lag reckoning as it wallops ones sinuses for x amount of days. Lets just say we both invest a great deal in cotton & aloe and I doubt whatever it is you may be holding back can be worse than a dissolving friendship where ones arse runs and the others nose drips. I mean it was basically a dog fight over what so many take for granted. Not to mention the mornings of being stirred by European police sirens, exotic birds and nasal drip. At least she could dodge my bullets by learning my schedule. I feel for her considering hotels don't come with Voluspa candles, Glade air fresheners or matches to light. I mean some days all I could afford to consume was carrots and wine. Shit happens … doesn't it?

Oh and P.S. - I never quite figured out what solved my "problem" while abroad. It surely could have been reset because I avoided milk after noticing it goes unrefrigerated "over there" or because tapas resurrected my former colon pre-surgery. I don't know but since October I've been yogurt free and only take a shot of Kefir if I feel like it. I've since taken my yogurt budget and invested it in high quality lip glosses and various mascaras. I wish her the best of luck with her snout and hope one day she can too can realize the financial pleasure of being freed. 

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