I need something to lighten what has been a very long week – so I will tell one of my much anticipated holiday stories.
On August the 7th my partner and I flew from Australia to Christchurch, New Zealand. It would be the first trip away since we found out about my Crohn’s. It should have been a simply overjoying experience, but to tell you the truth I was worried about two significant events which would all occur in the next 24 hours.
The strangest thing is I haven’t change. My perception of my own reality has – and I think that’s normal. I think there are experiences in life which don’t change you as a person, but they change the way you interact with the world around you. Anyway. My first main worry was getting my emergency supply of Entocort into New Zealand. Entocort is not an approved medication over there, so I had two choices: a) get a letter from my doctor and declare that I have both the illness and the medication to boarder security or b) carry them over the boarder without saying a word, potentially losing a $300NZD bottle of Corticosteroids. I decided to declare – the first time in my life I would have to tick one of those horrible boxes on the customs declaration. I walked sheepishly up to the immigration desk, the lady there questioned me… I had to tell the reasonably short version of the story… then I stood their smiling like an idiot as she glared back at me. After what felt like the longest pause in history where I imagined myself being thrown in a New Zealand prison for trying to bring in a Crohn’s treatment, she remarked “I’ve heard of that” signed my card and waved us through. Rather than our luggage (and there is a lot of it when you are going to a cold place) being x-rayed the customs man showed us to the arrival lounge and we were free to go. I remember standing there holding my passport saying… “this is way too easy”.
Following that, we found a Vodafone kiosk by the door where I purchased my now permanent New Zealand phone number. Way too easy.
We picked up the car into which our 6 foot board bag fitted with ease (into a Ford Focus) and realised that it was now 4pm New Zealand time and we hadn’t eaten since the night before. We asked for directions to the nearest food outlet which happened to be a moderately sized garden shop/cafe at the end of the street. I had the best mac & cheese I have ever had. Sitting there, staring out the window at the edge of the southern alps, my second fear started screeching in the back of my mind. I had the foresight to look up maps of the 4-5 hour drive to Lake Tekapo… it was dotted with small towns, quite a ways apart.
When you are having what I lovingly refer to as a “Crohn’s Moment”, your body ain’t going to wait for the next town. I broke into a sweat and excused myself to go to the bathroom which Stocker had just returned from. I hoped this would alleviate some of my fears… but nothing happened… just great. I got up, turned around and saw it…. a stack of about 12 rolls of toilet paper in my cubicle… “Surely they wont miss one?” I thought, and proceeded to stuff a roll of toiled paper into the hood of my jacket. I can imagine how suss I looked – the bathrooms were in an outside building… the temperature was 14 degrees with about -10 wind chill on top of that… I strolled back into the main building with my jacket over my arm and proceeded to by “car food” for the remainder of the journey. I was visibly nervous and way too chatty… all because I was concealing a roll of toilet paper. If I had of explained my condition, I am sure they would have given it to me…. but I felt like I had done enough explaining for the day.
When we got back into the car – I revealed my crime and added “you think differently when you know you have this f***ing disease”. I couldn’t tell if Stocker was about to laugh or cry – perhaps both. He very calmly said after I had finished “I thought about doing exactly the same thing… but decided not to”…. I don’t know if it made me feel better that he had the idea too or worse that he fought the urge to steel in the interests of a smooth and uneventful drive.
Turns out, I wasn’t that ridiculous after all. Nature did call on both of us at about 7:30pm, we were still about an hour and a half away from Tekapo. We were able to stop at a service station in a small town called Geraldine. This service station was manned by a young lady who I don’t believe had ever seen or met an Australia… she pointed to the bathroom. Said bathroom was devoid of toilet paper. We could have asked for some I suppose, but we weren’t buying anything and she was looking at us like we were zombies with flesh hanging off our faces… so we were… uncomfortable asking.
Moral to the story: sometimes crime pays in the most surprising ways.
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