The 5 stages of a hangover – on Ithaca

This week’s post was delayed due to extreme work hours, a lot of sleep and excessive socialising – taking my own advice in The game of life. Ithaca in the summer is like party central. You can go out on any night of the week, and not get home before 5am. Combine this with many festival nights (huge parties in the village square), and the party really never stops. When I leave work at 2:30 am and join in, everyone else has already been drinking for hours. After recently finding the stages of a hangover on the internet, we decided to write our own version – for Ithaca.

Stage 1: You wake up from an alcohol induced sleep, feeling rested, but a bit thirsty. This is easily remedied with a cup of coffee and some water. You are proud of the fact that you weren’t drunk enough to make a total ass of yourself last night. In fact, you are on top of the world.

Stage 2: You wake up with a light headache, usually, due to some ‘bad wine’. It subsides after about an hour, a mild painkiller and a few glasses of water. Your body is unaffected, and you think you can do it again tonight. You can still perform at optimum levels required for island lifestyle and the 40 degree heat does not challenge your body too much. However, you realise that you do need to limit excessive physical activities.

Stage 3: You wake up feeling rather rough. You instinctively reach for water, but find none. Your condition is grave enough to encourage your stage 2 sister to make you bacon and eggs without even having to ask. The food nourishes you and you begin to feel a lot better, but you still have to shake this damn headache. You are capable of exiting the house for a quick fag but have to return to the safety of the airconditioner as the sun is like Kryptonite.

Stage 4: You vaguely remember countless rounds of drinks appearing in front of you… crisp and cold. But you definitely did not have enough money with you to pay for all of them. You were the life of the party, your Greek quite fluent and everyone was your best friend. You wake up and think that you might be in hell, but realise that it is 11am and its the house that has turned itself into an oven… you scramble to find the airconditioner remote and activate your life support system. There’s a demon waging war inside your head. Nothing you do seems to stop the agonising thumping headache. You feel like a tender piece of meat that has been thrown to the dogs. As you lie down again, there’s a distinct smell of vomit… you can’t recall where it happened. Which part of the house has been affected? Is it all over your shoes? You fall asleep again, only to wake up in the afternoon – the demon still there, unrelenting. Medication is needed to survive this one. You are not entirely sure of how you got home. As soon as you can face going outside, you have to go and check on the car.

A stage 5 survivor, a few hours after reality set in (Ithaca, 2010)

Stage 5: AKA – The journey to Hades, Realm of death and the dead
You wake, no wait, you actually just open your eyes and realise that you can’t see. You’re in shock – was this a rebirth? Where am I? What’s going on with my body, and why can’t I see? After a few minutes (or maybe hours) of disorientation, you start to move – like a wounded animal. Your mouth and insides feel like you ate half of the Sahara desert last night… but you’re quite sure you were nowhere near Northern Africa. You cry for help, but no sounds come out of your parched mouth. Is anybody there – or is this death after all? Somehow you make it to a vertical position and with blurry vision manage to find a bottle of water. It appears that the Earths’ gravity has multiplied by ten as your body cannot stay up. You are clearly still drunk – you have flasbacks of last night, somehow the most beautiful girl on the island came to sit next to you, and you were incapapble of speaking to her. The pain in your head cannot even be described as a headache – its more like a tsunami took out most of your braincells, and the survivors are desperately trying to re-attach themselves to your brain. After being told to shower and brush your teeth (you are definitely incapapble of deciding something of this magnitude on your own), you still have alchohol and nicotine vapour seeping through your pores. The walls of the house are closing in on you, and you have to get out, but you soon realise that being a passenger in 40 degree heat, on the winding roads of Ithaca was a bad idea. The body’s reaction to this is the same as a pineapple being thrown into a blender – at max. Your body shakes involuntarily, and you wonder if this is some kind of seizure. It takes about 2 days before you can function on a very basic level, and a week to regain full brain capacity and motor skills. Or, maybe full brain capacity will never be achieved again. You get back home after the drive, pass out and wake up the next morning, with a stage 4 hangover.

Its just after 7am, and as I’m working on finalising this post, my brother arrives from another big night out (it was the last big festival for the summer) – his hangover, as yet, unclassified. Mine, stage 0, as I was the one selling the alcohol!

Please feel free to add any hangover cures or your own stage 1 to 5 experiences in the comment box below. And forward this post to anyone who might be able to relate to this.

(Written in conjunction with my brother, who seems intent on perfecting stages 3–5.)