Last summer I spent three weeks wandering around Europe and it was the coldest, rainiest summer there that anyone could remember. When I flew home, I already had a sore throat and within two days of returning it turned it to full blown laryngitis. I was supposed to be presenting four days of workshops and had to scramble to find a replacement for the first few days, and then reschedule the rest.
This summer, I left Cordoba for the long trek home feeling perfectly healthy. I arrived home early Saturday afternoon and tidied the house. Sunday I worked away at trying to get the garden back under control, and then went to visit my mom and dad. By Sunday night I had a sore throat and cough, and by Monday night, I had a raging fever. A visit to the doctor on Tuesday confirmed an upper respiratory infection which has knocked me on my bottom for a few days, missing two of the three days of conferences where I was supposed to be presenting and facilitating. Once again, others are stepping in to cover my responsibilities.
Some family and friends hypothesize that it is the 'germy' air on the long flights that causes my after-travel illnesses. But if that was true, then I should be sick when I arrive to my destination as well, and that hasn't happened.
My theory is that I arrive home with a long 'to-do' list in my head and have a hard time not trying to get everything done all at once. I want to unpack, tidy up the house, and the yard, go for groceries, visit friends and family, and in both cases, I also had to return to work on the Monday after a Saturday return. As difficult as it is for me, I am going to have to learn to take some time to relax when I return from a trip and gradually return to my home schedule, rather than throwing myself back into the usual busy stressful routine. My body is sending me a clear message that it just can't take that kind of sudden shift. I don't know how John does it - when he flies back to Buenos Aires, his flight arrives in the early morning; he drops his suitcases off at the hotel and heads straight to work for the rest of the day.
My next return flight home is for Christmas, which means I'll be flying home to another very busy, stressful time. It seems obvious to me now that I need to return with plenty of time to put up the tree, do some Christmas shopping, decorate the house, as well as prepare for my return to work in January. Otherwise I'll come home and try to rush through all the things that need to be done and end up sick on Christmas. That would be awful!
I'm posting this entry on my blog for two reasons:
1. I'm wondering if anyone else has the same experience. Do you find that you are more susceptible to illnesses or other maladies when you return home from a long trip? What strategies do you use to prevent this from happening or to lessen the effect?
2. I'm also posting this as a personal reminder to myself to make sure I return home early for Christmas and give myself time to adjust. Friends and family, feel free to remind me if I start to talk about staying down in South America for 'just a little bit longer......'
(Just in case you're wondering, yes that is a Sponge Bob Square Pants plastic tablecloth under our Christmas tree. We had an elderly cat who was having some issues with peeing in inappropriate places, so I had to cover the presents under the tree with plastic. It's not part of our usual holiday decor, but we do what we have to do to make sure all the members of our family have a good holiday, even our pets. We miss you Joz.)