52: Whitney Houston’s Hotel Room

Canadian and Swiss over-the-counter medications are not always evenly matched.

Were I to die in my hotel room, the coroner’s office would not find any illegal drugs in my luggage or my system, but they would still find enough meds to make them think I have a Tylenol addiction.

I don’t.

People who live perpetually ‘on the road,’ have to pack a lot of meds because

  • They can never be sure of a 24-hour pharmacy and
  • They can never be sure of a 24-hour pharmacist that speaks their language and
  • They can never be sure of a 24-hour pharmacy that stocks the same brands or dosage levels familiar to them.

In this light, the drug stash  inside suddenly deceased celebrity’s hotel rooms (Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger) don’t look so bad.

Shockingly, despite the fact that drug companies have global reaches, we have seen some variation in meds not to mention how to acquire them. Dave very nearly lost the use of his airway in Spain in 1999 when a Spanish doctor insisted the antibiotics he was prescribing for Dave were super-duper and required only one pill a day for three days. As mother to a chronic-strep-sufferer, this violated everything I knew about antibiotic dosing, so as the week moved on and Dave’s swollen gland gained new real estate in his neck, I called in another doctor and we proceeded to drench Dave in antibiotics until it no longer appeared he was trying to swallow a baseball. I am not exaggerating.

I am thinking of all this because Dave ate some bad lasagna and spent a good part of the night volunteering up his bodily fluids and vital organs. As it happens, I have about 180 little pink anti-nausea pills, so not only was I armed for last night, I was ready to deal with either 60 other nights like it, or to provide assistance to our entire hotel’s guest roster, should it be required.

I am not a pill-popper, although a look into my luggage might suggest otherwise, however, I will leave Switzerland with very nearly the same amount of drugs as I brought into it. If you are travelling for an extended period, it is a good idea to pack your own mini-drugstore for common non-doctorly ailments.

Important tip: Prescription drugs are excluded from airline liquid limits, however, they must be transported in the same bottle with prescription labeling in order to qualify. Otherwise, some snotty security staffer will seize and dispense of them as one Canadian airport security official did to an elderly woman’s heart medication as she was boarding a 70-minute flight from Victoria (or was it Vancouver) to Calgary, necessitating a tremendous panic in her family that by itself could have been heartstopping. Never underestimate the stupidity of power-obsessed bureaucrats, even in airport security uniforms.

But I drift from my topic. Before you hit the road, visit your doctor and ask for a top-up on prescriptions, then fill enough of them to cover your absence (in my case, 18-months of absence from the comforts of Canadian pharmacies means I have 18 months worth of everything – it’s expensive, but better than dealing with a non-English-speaking doctor).

Add to that over-the-counter meds to cope with pain, fever, inflammations, nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset, cold, flu and allergies. It may seem like a lot, but if you are stricken at 3 a.m., when these cursed things seem to peak, you will have renewed appreciation of the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

*Yes, I have written about stocking your own drugstore for overseas trips, but it is worth a repeat, especially in light of last night’s horrors.

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