Yes, it had been 3 weeks since my final game of college volleyball, but I didn’t think they would be expecting too much from a jet-lagged foreigner who had barely slept in the last 24 hours. I was hesitant on the court. My timing was off and my connection was a mess. Luckily my serve and pass was consistent because it was the only thing I could do that solely relies on myself. I played the first half of the game, then was told to do some fitness on the side of the court with one of the assistants. He would check my pulse after which I would do sets of jump rope and sprints back to back while the rest of the team finished the game. He raised his eyebrows and while looking concerned told me, “You’re a bit out of shape.” I thought to myself, well of course I’m not 100 percent right now I just arrived. I’m not sure what they were expecting but at a first glance they didn’t seem too happy with my performance. I took it quite personally when they said I was out of shape. If anything, I never let myself get that out of shape. I have always been athletic, and I pride myself on my hard work and determination on and off the court. Although it wasn’t verbalized, I took it as a personal blow to my self esteem telling me, “You’re not good enough”.
If anyone knows anything about me, they know that every time I have received doubt from others, it has been used as fuel to the flame. I woke up the next morning determined more than ever to prove myself. I wanted to show him that I was the most fit person in the gym. I knew for a fact that they had the wrong impression of me. I arrived at the gym ready to be better, faster, and stronger. I felt a little uneasy for some reason, but thought that if I just pushed through it, the unsteady feelings would go away. The beginning of the workout went well, although all eyes were on me as I went through each task fighting through any jet lag in my system. Then for a grand finale, we had this jumping circuit on a bench in the corner of the gym. I was jumping up and down on the bench when all of the uneasy feelings in my stomach began moving up to my head. I grew dizzy. Before I could catch another breathe, I ran to the closest room, placed my head in the closest thing that resembled a trashcan, and threw up everything I had eaten in the last 24 hours. Even when there was nothing else in my stomach to throw up, I could not stop retching and certainly could not move from the bathroom floor. All I could hear was the distant sounds of my name being screamed from outside the room. I watched as my coach came in and asked if I was ok. Of course I wasn’t, but I tried to act tough responding, “Yeah, Yeah I'll be out in a second.” He responded, “This is the men’s bathroom.” My eyes widened and palms became moist, completely embarrassed at what I had just done. I looked around to see a few men changing in the lockers beside me. Fuck, really? Did this really have to happen? I tried to play it cool, and washed my hands in the sinks beside me and then said, “Sorry, I’m fine now.” The coach and I walked beside one another as he tried to comfort me and reminded me that I shouldn’t drink the tap water.
After another practice and more episodes of vomiting, I finally built up the courage to tell the Physio that I needed to see a doctor. I didn’t want to seem weak or ‘out of shape’, but at this point I couldn’t hide the fact that I needed help. I was taken to Emergency Care where the nurse couldn’t speak any English. The Physio relayed most of the information about how I was feeling and then the nurse and him began laughing. I stood there thinking to myself what could possibly be so funny. The nurse handed me a cup and hesitantly told me to ”take a stool” in a Turkish accent. I smiled and said, “a urine sample? ummm pee?”. She shook her head and began to laugh then pulled out her phone out, the screen read, “shit”. I sat back, feeling quite violated I asked, “you want me to shit in a cup?”. She smiled and nodded, “Yes.” I sat there for a few seconds, thinking she must be confused with the language barrier. I looked at her again and received a confirming smile. I had no idea this was a customary in any medical facility.
For 3 hours I was asleep and hooked up to an IV in the emergency care waiting for my test results. The doctor finally arrived and confirmed that I had a bacterial infection. I was slightly surprised because I had been very careful not to drink the tap water, but they told me that it could have come from the food, brushing my teeth, or even simply rinsing vegetables. I was given about a weeks worth of pills in three different forms, and was told that I must take them three times a day. I was weak, I think I may have lost about 10 lbs from the vomiting, and I was in no shape to participate. So I took the rest of the day off then started up again the following day. Luckily we had a free day coming up so I could wear myself out and then relax a bit. I wasn’t anywhere close to my regular volleyball self, but I was slowly progressing. After a few days being back on the court I finally felt like I was starting to feel more comfortable. I had recovered well from the infection and I had made my home a little bit more hospitable by posting photographs of my family and friends across the bland walls.
"The person who is unlikely to make mistakes, is unlikely to make anything" ~ Paul Arden