Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pain and Partygirls

14 May 2009 – Byblos/Jbeil, Lebanon. This is me "partying" on the beach in front of La Bonita.

I’ve been getting some feedback from friends on the blog…seems the perception is that Alyssa and I have turned into western tourist partygirls? Someone also decided I was dating one of the guys in the photos. Well…sorry…neither is true. But it did get me thinking. I mean, there’d be nothing wrong with me turning into (reverting back to) a partygirl, right? So no need for me to be defensive…but it reminded me that in addition to being a fairly responsible, totally neurotic, anxiety-addled adult who hasn’t really partied in, gosh, too many years to admit…I also suffer from chronic pain and migraines. Friends, misled by my occasional ability to tie one on, have often been frustrated with me for being a pretty consistent party pooper – minimal alcohol, early bedtimes, etc. I like to blame it on age and maturity, but it’s probably more about the neck injury and the migraines. So, while I love this idea that I’m out in the world partying the days away, it just ain’t true.

Alyssa and I both fell off the face of the Earth for endless days in Byblos. We put the deposit on the flat in Hamra, got back to Byblos and went blank. It’s been great. We don’t even spend much time together…we keep different laziness schedules. We’re both exercising, reading, writing and getting to bed early…we’ve even given up the donuts and Snickers and cokes (mostly). We’re both enjoying the beauty of Byblos and I’ve been dazing through the days halfheartedly since learning Nikki’s bummer news last week.

Meanwhile, the jogging and worrying triggered the nerve damage in my neck and by this morning I was getting that depressed feeling one gets when chronic pain flares up…like it just totally sucks and makes everything worse. I popped a tiny blue Alleve tablet in hopes of deferring the need for a prescription migraine pill, then headed to Rock for a chicken schawarma lunch. I was by myself, clad in my don’t-talk-to-me baseball cap, sunnies and iPod, but one of the waiters talked to me anyway, “are you from America?” I was surprised, intrigued, because this nice older man had waited on me numerous times and never said a word. He was sorry to bother me, but said he really needed a favour…something from America.....a medication…called Alleve…little blue pills. I laughed and told him I just took one fifteen minutes ago, but I don’t think he understood me. I told him I have a bottle back at the flat that I could share with him…and when I leave Lebanon I’ll give him what’s left of my share. When he walked away I realized my pain was completely gone. I felt great. I love Alleve. I ate my lunch wondering from what what kind of chronic pain he suffers? Pain sucks...and you never know who's suffering. Makes you think. When I finished my lunch and asked for the bill, he told me he would like to pay for my lunch. I had to insist on paying, which is really difficult in this country sometimes, but he ultimately let me.

Walking away from Rock, I thought about the girls at work in London who had me bring them over-the-counter drugs from the States: Excedrin Migraine and Midol. Seems the US has the best OTC drugs. My banker brain started thinking about how these drugs are developed and marketed globally (I covered EMEA healthcare in London), but I quickly caught myself and flipped the business switch in my head back to off. No room for that stuff…it’s all about Lebanon these days.

I came back to the flat tonight and took out my little bottle of Alleve and counted 34 tablets. I’m thinking I’ll give the waiter half?