Yes. I got food poisoning on Skye. Doesn’t that just sound like the worst?

See, we had just left Dunvegan castle and were starting to feel a mite peckish. Our packed sandwiches had only taken us so far, and the sleeve of digestives was rapidly disappearing. Food was next on the docket, even before we made it to our little self-catered cottage.

We stopped at a restaurant which shall not be named, as I believe this was a one-time incident, given their reviews online. I had some lovely seafood and a glass of prosecco because life is amazing, and I was just loving this trip. I noticed a bit of a headache which worsened over the evening, and I did not feel that great when I woke up the next morning.

However, it wasn’t until I was standing at the stove over the mushroom and eggs fry-up that everything turned on its head, and I made a bolt for the bathroom. I’ll spare you the gory details, but after a while, I went back to bed and started googling how to recover from food poisoning. Those kinds of symptoms, with food I was unaccustomed to eating, and my background in the hospitality and foodservice industries… it was a slam-dunk diagnosis for me.

Now, just because I was able to diagnose myself doesn’t mean you should. If you are experiencing any severe symptoms, you should contact a doctor and seek medical advice and/or attention.

What happens to you when you have food poisoning is that you ingest something bad, it isn’t that thing that hurts you – it’s the toxins it releases, and your body’s (sometimes violent) attempts to rid itself of those toxins. Here’s what you can do to recover:

  1. Stay hydrated. Your body is expelling toxins, and you’ll need to replace all of the fluids it’s losing.
  2. Do not take anything which will hinder the first goal. Any medication to prevent diarrhea is just keeping the toxins inside. Coffee does not hydrate and neither does alcohol (not that you could keep it down anyway).
  3. If you can, take activated charcoal and drink dandelion root tea. The former bonds with toxins before they poison your body (it is a common remedy for poisoning) and the latter boosts your liver and digestive performance to speed up your recovery. I try to pack these wherever I go, but only remembered the tea on my Scotland trip.
  4. You probably won’t feel like eating anytime soon, but when you do, start small. And remember BRAT: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. Keep it bland, keep it simple, and be easy on yourself. Oatmeal is also a good choice.
  5. Once you can keep liquids and small amounts of food down, take probiotics to start restoring the balance of your poor gut.
  6. Take it easy. Your body is really being put through it,  so don’t promise hikes you should take, activities that will wipe you out, or, really anything. Stay down, curl up in your hotel, turn the heater on in the seat of the car… be kind to yourself for as long as you can; your body will recover faster and you’ll be that must closer to getting back to the fun.

Some of this was hard for me since we were on the road and I wanted to eat all kinds of new an interesting foods, drink Highland Scotch, and see all the beautiful things Scotland had to offer.

When you’re on the fly and you can’t cook for yourself, try to find breakfast-all-day places where you can get scrambled eggs and toast, ask for a plain bowl of rice, and apologize sweetly to your hosts for not being able to sample all of the good things they were hoping to serve you.

This incident, while unfortunate, couldn’t have happened at a better point during this trip. The morning I woke up sick, we had a half-day where nothing too particular had to happen. My parents caught up on email while I stayed in bed.

Eventually, I felt well enough to pour myself into the front seat of our rental, and we started out toward Inverness.

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Blue sky peeking through the clouds on the Winged Isle

As long as I wasn’t walking or standing, I was more or less okay. I navigated us from Skye to Inverness while the sky blackened in anticipation of the coming storm. When we turned into our B&B, it looked like 7 pm, but was actually only 2 in the afternoon. We had left Skye just in time to avoid a hurricane. Literally.

Ireland got hit the hardest, but we missed most of the worst wind and rain by driving inland.

My parents headed out to dinner while I nibbled on crackers and peanut butter, turned on an old black and white movie, and let myself recover under the blankets.

The adventure continued, even if I was a little shaky on my feet from lack of food and the whole being poisoned thing. The entire affair forcibly reminded me that just because unpleasant things happen during a trip doesn’t mean the trip is inherently unpleasant. It was one really bad day out of ten, and even though I kept feeling echoes of the effects of this illness for another month, it was a cost well-worth paying for the value of our trip to Scotland.