Well, among other adventures, I've learned what it's like to be sick abroad.
I usually have some sort of allergy fit/sinus/cold issue once or twice a year. No biggie. Get some rest, take some allergy meds, eat soup, get over it.
Not so easy when you don't know how to get medicine (or soup... but more on that later).
In the US, I can walk into a pharmacy or grocery store and find just about any basic medication that I need. No need to communicate with anyone other than the cashier. The red nose, sneezing, and constant stream of tissues are enough to prove that I really don't want to have a conversation. I don't have to justify wearing tights and a hoodie in public. I look terrible. That's how being sick works for me. If I'm really miserable, I'll ask someone to bring the medicine/cough drops/tissue to me. Luckily, I live pretty close to my family back home.
However, things are a bit different here in Spain. I can't even find ibuprofen in the grocery store here. I have no idea how to get it. I haven't seen displays of Advil, Aleve, Tylenol, or anything. I tried my normal method for getting over a cold/allergy issue. On my first attempt, I accidentally bought mints instead of cough drops. They said "Ricola." It wasn't until I saw the nutrition information and "refresh your mouth and throat" that I realized my error.
Defeated, I marched back across the street to the pharmacy. I explained that I'm foreign and that I don't exactly understand how to get medicine. The sweet pharmacist was very sympathetic. She asked me a few questions and disappeared to the back. When she returned, she was holding a box of medicine. She explained what it was and how to take it.
I walked out of there with a prescription strength throat spray that numbs my throat in a flash.
So, I'm feeling pretty great about my Spanish-speaking accomplishment during my break. That's about when the next symptoms settled in. The stuffy/runny nose, clogged ears, and general misery hit. I couldn't justify going back to the pharmacy so soon.
That's when I remembered that I brought my good allergy meds with me to Spain. By the way, Michelle, if you're reading this, thanks for introducing me to the medicine that has saved me from so many miserable allergy problems!
The combination of the throat spray and the allergy medications has dramatically improved my state of being. I'm still battling a few symptoms, but I feel somewhat okay overall.
I've been snuggled up in my bed with various home remedies and the Harry Potter series on my Kindle for the last 48 hours or so. My host parents actually freaked out a little bit when they realized that neither of them had talked to me or seen me in almost an entire day. They sent me a text message making sure that I was okay (they didn't knock for fear that I was asleep). I assured them that I was just in my room reading and blowing my nose. We all got a laugh out of that.
So, being sick in Spain isn't really all that bad. If I can't get over this in a few days, I've promised my host parents that I'll go to the doctor. I already went to the doctor once for these symptoms in January. I have the medicine I need. I should be set. I guess we'll see!
Until next time,