Thursday, September 29, 2011

Na zdraví!

I was so proud of myself earlier this year because I managed to avoid getting sick all winter. I always get sick and I got sick all the time in Taiwan. I was especially proud because it was my first time living somewhere that actually has a real winter and so I was sure I was going to end up with some death illness.

Looks like the death illness decided to wait until Autumn to show up. 

I've had the sniffles for a couple of weeks now since the weather has gone from hot to chilly to warm to cold. Continual changes in weather always land me with a bit of a cold, but usually no big deal. I'm an American so I generally choose to ignore it and keep going to work.

Then I got exposed to little kid germs via my roommate and all of her co-workers who work with children as well as another friend of mine who was out of work for a week. 

All bets were off after that. There was no avoiding the clammy grip of this one.

So yesterday was Czech Statehood Day aka Vaclav Name Day aka St. Vaclav (you'd probably know him as King Wenceslas) Day. Vaclav/Wenceslas is the Czech patron saint and it's a national holiday, so we were lucky enough to have the whole day off. Hooray for random mid-week holidays. Boo for them not just turning it into a 5-day weekend. 

No one does anything special for this day. There aren't really any special festivals or anything. It's just a day to celebrate being Czech.

I actually slept until noon and probably would have slept later if my roommate hadn't have been making noise in the kitchen. You know it's bad when I can sleep late. I spent the entire holiday in bed, drinking tea and watching 'TV'. ('TV' = American TV shows on my computer via the lovely Internet)

By the end of the night I sounded mostly OK. I didn't necessarily feel better, but I didn't exactly feel worse either. I thought maybe I'd be in the clear. 

But no. Several times during the night my horrendous coughing woke me up. By the time my alarm went off this morning, I had a headache, my throat was sore, and my voice sounded rough

Alas, I'm American and so I powered through and went to my first class only to have her cancel it. It was 8 a.m. people. I could have slept. 

My next class isn't until 10:45 (nearly three hours later) so I asked for substitutions for the rest of my classes. After a quick trip to the store in which I bought soup, a 500g jar of honey and a tube of dissolving multi-vitamins, I'm back home in bed. 

I keep pointing out the 'Americaness' of my actions because we (at least I and many people I know) handle illness so differently from the Czechs. 

Americans get sick and we ignore it or kick up the vitamins and keep going to work and exhausting ourselves each day. I think we figure if we just power through then our illness will just mind-over-matter itself and disappear. That and we're a work-oriented culture and hate admitting defeat, even if we've been defeated by bacteria and viruses. (Though personally I can blame this on the fact that I've always had a job which I only get paid for if I show up. No sick days. No salary. Just hourly wages or, worse, tips. Being a girl who needs to pay the bills, I can't generally afford to not go to work. This is still true, but I'm also a grown-up now. I have just demonstrated how grown-up I am by using the word grown-up rather than adult.)

Czechs start to get sick and they immediately go to the doctor and the doctor tells them to take something like five days to a week off. (Who the hell can afford to take this much time off for a minor illness?) And it seems to me they sometimes go to the doctor for the tiniest of things. I get it if you have a flu or something that's going to require actual antibiotics. But for a cold?

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to the doctor for what I know is the common cold. You know what? There's no cure for the common cold. The doctor is going to tell me to go home, drink tea, take vitamins and rest. Why do I need to go wait in line at the doctor's office when I could be at home already getting that rest he's going to tell me to get. 

That and I think five days off for a cold is a bit excessive. There goes that American way of thinking again. 

That said, my roommate found a bit of a home remedy which seems to be helping big time with the congestion and sore throat. I'm drinking tea constantly, but now and then, instead of green tea with honey and lemon, we try this concoction. 

Splash of apple cider vinegar (enough to cover the bottom of the cup plus a tiny bit extra), boiling water (just like you would have for tea), and a big, heaping spoonful of honey (to taste, this is just going to soothe your throat and make it easier to drink the vinegar). 

If you're not feeling well, try it out. Hope it helps. Na zdraví!

— J

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