The airport, with glittery Greek columns, palm trees, and mirrors, looked remarkably like Vegas, and we had plenty of time to familiarize ourselves with the décor while we waited for the shuttle that would take us to our hotel for the night.
Since we had an overnight layover in Dubai we were booked at a huge airport hotel run by Emirates solely for the purpose of housing flyers with long layovers. No one in the group from work had been to Dubai before, and we were eager to see a new corner of the world.
After 13 hours on an airplane, waiting for the hotel shuttle was both disappointing and exhausting. By the time I had a keycard in my hand it was nearly 10 pm UAE-time, and heaven-knows-what-time on my internal clock.
I had done OK on the flight, Crohn’s-wise, though I couldn’t boast at the end of that leg that I hadn’t thrown up at all, which I was able to say for the following day’s travel. I hadn’t eaten much, and what I had eaten wasn’t with me anymore, and my new friend fatigue was creeping up around me.
Before entering the gilded elevators to find our rooms, the team made a plan to meet back in the lobby in ten minutes to check out downtown Dubai. My response?
“Have fun, everybody. I’m going to take it easy tonight. I’ll see you in the morning.”
It killed me. One night in Dubai and I had to spend it sleeping and/or thinking about my digestion. I went up to my room and took a long hot shower and cried, grieving the person I used to be, the one who could eat and drink what she wanted and keep up with her friends all night.
I know I made the right decision, and there is satisfaction in knowing I took care of myself. I woke up rested and in less pain, to stories from my colleagues implying that I didn’t miss too much (turns out Dubai is actually a lot like Vegas).
I want to pat myself on the back for hauling my sick self across the four continents, for pulling my weight preparing for this retreat. But each time I turn around to pat myself on my sickly-thin back I catch sight of the girl behind me, the one who could do more.