Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 1 comment

Sick in the City

When I was 17, I had the chance to experience a teenager’s dream come true: a day at Disneyland with sixty of my friends. We were road-tripping home from a youth conference and had stayed with host families the night before. In the car on the way to the Magic Kingdom, I wasn’t feeling so well and I threw up. Once we entered the park, I tried to shake it off and smile, but one disastrous ride on Space Mountain (which I otherwise love!) proved that my stomach was not up to the challenge, and I ended up spending the whole day in the nurses’ station.

I remember sleeping a lot, and appreciating the visits from friends as they ran between Splash Mountain and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse but wishing I could’ve been outside with them instead of lying in that bed. The only thing that really stands out to me about that day is a Russian man was having a heart attack and there was a big panic as they tried to find a translator. A grand disappointment all around.

I’m experiencing those same feelings of “missing out” today, only my grown-up Disneyland is Istanbul and I’m stuck home on the couch with a cold.

I came here knowing I’d only have a day or two before my ear surgery, so I wanted to make the most of my time in my favourite city before pain killers had me konked out in bed. I had big plans for these days - friends to see, photos to take, favourite spots to visit, new places to explore. I always arrive with a long list of Istanbul bucket-list items (ride the ferry to the spot where the Bosphorus meets the Black Sea, go to Ara Güler's cafe and ask the famous photographer if we can go shooting together, finally explore the towers and dungeons of the Yeditepe Fortress....) and try to squeeze the life out of every hour I have here. But right now I don’t have the energy for much more than changing the channel to see what else is on during “Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki” commercial breaks.

This morning I had to go to the hospital to talk over the surgery with my doctor and do the pre-op blood tests and paper work. I’d hoped to head down to Kadıköy early, have a Turkish coffee at Fazıl Bey’s, my usual coffee house, then walk by the sea a bit before heading to my appointment. But my head hurt so much I didn’t think I could handle the bus ride down, let alone anything fun, so I just took a taxi straight to the hospital. I was pretty fuzzy headed as I went from office to office and had a bit of a hard time understanding everything that was said to me - particularly when the anesthesiologist kept speaking to me in German-accented English when I was expecting Turkish. (Don’t they know how much that confuses me?)

My pre-sickness post-appointment plan had been to head down to Haydarpaşa Station and take some pictures and chat with some workers before the sad and fast-approaching day when the trains no longer come and go from that gorgeous building. But by the time I left the hospital, my energy was spent, so again, I again skipped Kadıköy and took a taxi home.

I felt a bit like I was betraying my beloved by not taking a dip downtown - like I’d become one of those people who moves away and then, when they return, they wonder how they ever loved the crowds and the craziness and the noise. Normally when I return, I’m eager to take my place in the dance and float along with the other millions of people surging down the streets. But today the horns and the traffic and the throngs that normally give me life threatened to swallow me whole and I just couldn’t do it.

I trudged up to the third floor of my Turkish family’s apartment, turned the key in the door, and then closed it on my beloved city. That Disneyland disappointment only increased as I crawled into my bed and got ready to sleep away the hours I’d planned to spend out amidst the ancient wonder and modern curiosities outside. As I listened to the cries of the seagulls and the horns of the Bosphorus ferries, I thought to myself, “Istanbul is a rotten place to be sick.”

An hour or so later, I woke up when my Turkish sister got home from work. I had her key, so I had to get up to let her in. She looked at my sleep-matted hair and drowsy eyes and gave me a big, comforting hug. Then she proceeded to brew me some soothing mint-lemon tea with honey, set up blankets for me on the couch, make a pot of popcorn and pop in a movie for us to crash in front of.

And as I lay there, so well taken care of, my sweet "sister" by my side, I thought to myself, “Istanbul’s not such a bad place to be sick after all.”

1 comments: sorry you are sick, but so glad you have someone there to pamper you! - hoping for a successful surgery!!