Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Punches are Here to Teach You How to Roll

The least gross picture I could find. Looks more like someone's hair..
Of all Life's lessons, I think I keep repeating the one entitled Punches are Here to Teach You How to Roll. I have been punched before (Rio de Janeiro, Paris). I've also been caught in a neck hold and thrown to a cement floor (Nice, France). My life has been threatened (Munich, Rio)--more than once come to think of it. Flights have been canceled, cars have broken down, airlines have forgotten my gluten-free meal. I've had to eat gluten-free cake when there was no gluten-free bread. The list just goes on and on. Goodness. You'd think I'd be a rolling expert by now.

So when I start feeling odd during breakfast on August 31 at my parents' house in Tennessee, I'm not surprised. At first I think my grandmother has sneaked some flour into the hashbrowns (they are remarkably well bound).

"Um, so Granny--"


I raise my voice (she's 93 and doesn't like to wear her hearing aids). "Um! So Granny--"


I raise my voice again. "Um!! So!! Granny!! The hashbrowns!! They're remarkably!! Sticky!!"

"The fairgrounds in Reba Johnson City?!"



A very loud and long story short, she promises she did not. So with this knowledge, the ever-worsening worry in my gut just gets more and more worrisome as the day goes along. My father even beats me once at Scrabble.

"Did you poison something so you could beat me at Scrabble?" I ask him, holding my belly.

"I wish I'd thought of that," he doesn't say.

So it turns out neither of them has poisoned me. Still, the pains persist. I lose another game of Scrabble. I lie awake all night. The feeling in my gut is like wind that won't pass. I have cramps and little spasms everywhere and nowhere. I've never had pains like these. At 6 a.m. I knock on my parents' bedroom door and tell them that as much as I hate to be a pain, I think I need to go to the ER.

I'm telling you all this because falling ill in a foreign country (foreign to the one where you are insured) is a real danger that you need to be prepared for before you travel. Driving to the emergency room on a Sunday morning 4 hours before you're scheduled to fly back to Munich is not the time to wonder if you're covered.

"So," I say to my father who's careening down a country road, "I sure hope my health insurance will cover this."

"You don't know?"

"Well," I say, "It's not on my Top 10 list of Things I Know For Sure, but it's right up there with Is a bear Catholic? and Do the Marshall Islands belong to Australia?"

"Are you delirious?"


"Wanna play a quick game of Scrabble?" he doesn't say.

Despite fervent prayers that my grandmother was lying about the flour in the fairgrounds, it turns out to be an appendicitis. And despite my pleas to be allowed to fly regardless of whether my appendix ruptures at 30,000 feet, I won't be flying; and on top of all this, I didn't buy the optional travel cancelation insurance. Who does that? Weenies, that's who. Very organized and foresighted weenies.

The silver linings of having an emergeny appendectomy while visiting my parents:

1. I don't have an appendix to worry about anymore. I can go on long ocean voyages in a dinghy if I want and never once have to think, "Hmmm, I wonder what I'd do if my appendix ruptured?"

2. I'm all caught up on my US-American game shows. I just love how US-Americans get so excited about winning. Germans are boring on game shows. A German when he wins 100,000 euros: "Thank you, Generic Game Show Host. This will go nicely with the bezillion euros I already have sitting cross-eyed bored in the bank now." A US-American when he wins 100,000 dollars: "Rahhhhhhh! Rohhhhhh! What????! Ahhhhhhhh. ARRRRRRRR! PRAISE BEJEBUS! SCHWEEEEEEEEEEE! BLARGH!!!!!! GlOOOOOOOO!" And the contestant screams all of these unintelligible expressions of joy as he wraps himself around the host, weeping and salivating on his shoulder. Just ask Bob Barker. It's good to be reminded how my people express their happiness.

3. Seriously, I get to see more of my family. They're sweet. All of them. Thank you for coming to see me in the hospital, and thank you, Teresa, for going to the store and getting me apples.

It turns out that British Airways is happy to reschedule my flight back to Munich once I produce evidence of my medical emergency, so bless them. Also, I'm doing one of those wavy moose antler nanny-nannies to the weenies who bought the travel cancelation insurance. Suckers. All you have to do is have an emergency appendectomy! (While the rescheduling of the flight causes little worry, the health insurance situation is still outstanding, and the total bill has gone beyond the $30,000 mark already.)

Have you been in an emergency medical situation abroad? How did you deal with it. Any tips for the sweet, pretty readers of I Must Be Off! ?

Click here to check out my Travel Tuesdays Interview at Besudesuabroad.com! 

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, [PANK], Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.