Sick: A Foreign Concept in A Foreign Land

by Rebecca A. Watson on January 23, 2014

in change, Germany, health, Recovery

Sante and I have been ill for the past few days. Nothing serious, but we’re flying to the Canary Islands on Saturday, so we’re both laying low trying to get better. Me in time for my 10k race. Him in time for his three mountain bike treks planned.

Being sick in another country isn’t always easy, mostly because you don’t have access to the same comforts that we’re used to at home. It’s terribly frightening to order take-away over the phone, because lord knows if they’ll understand you or if you’ll do something wrong. I don’t want to offend anyone preparing my food. So I’m still working up the courage to do that.

And then there is the problem of medicine. I think the blog Oh My God, My Wife is German put it best when he wrote,

It goes like this: you must convince the pharmacist you have a cold and then intimately describe your most disgusting symptoms, after which time, if they believe you, they hand you a box of herbal tea. “Thank you Sir! I was going to drown my symptoms in a near-lethal dose of NyQuil, but this lemon-flavored tea should prove just as effective!”

Maybe I shoulda stocked up when I was in England.

Maybe I shoulda stocked up when I was in England.

It’s true. Finding cold remedies is tough here. Let me rephrase: Finding effective cold remedies is tough. It probably has something to do with the fact that as an American, I’m used to being able to dose away any problem I have instead of waiting it out like the rest of the world tends to do.

To prove this point, I think I saw Sante take one sick day the entire time we were together. He wouldn’t, not only because he was drowning in work, but because his sick leave was taken out of his vacation time. This week he has taken two days to get better, and he doesn’t have to rob his holiday time to do it. Because most of the rest of civilized society knows that having sick employees at work is kinda shitty for everyone involved.

So I guess being sick in Germany isn’t all bad. One thing I’ve noticed though is that I am not good at being ill. Apparently I complain and whine the whole time. Sante says that every time I’m sick I’ve got the man flu.

Yeah, I might get a little dramatic. But what’s worse is that I can’t get myself to just sit and do nothing and get better. Which, when you’re ill is a major part of the equation. Part of it, I think, is that I’ve got a Type A personality and like to get things done. There’s writing and cleaning and cooking and German homework to be done!

But the other part is a little bit more embarrassing. You see, I wasn’t always like this. I had no problem watching MacGyver reruns all day when I was 14 or 15, falling in and out of sleep, drinking hot Tang (seriously, it’s a thing) and calling it good.

Things started to change as I got older — when I started to drink. If I woke up with a hangover, I would always push myself through it, telling myself I had made my bed and it was time to lie in it. I’d work out, do my job, cook and clean without complaint, chugging Gatorade, popping Advil and mowing down greasy food trying to make the pain go away. It was my fault, I knew it and I was going to have to pay.


whipping post

It’s not a very nice mentality, I agree, but I was punishing myself. And it also helped me get through the times I thought it’d be a good idea to go clubbing on a Thursday night. Cause, y’know: Thirsty Thursday! Lord, I don’t miss that.

At any rate, I think part of me is still telling myself, You’re not really sick. Get up. Get something done. God, if you waste the day then you really have a problem. And now I’ve got to learn that the proper response to that is this:

I’m sick and I’m going to lay here and watch another episode of An Idiot Abroad. And maybe later I’ll watch Modern Family. Because that’s what you do when you’re ill. The floors can stay a little dirty another day. My German homework isn’t going to be reported to the immigration office. I won’t be deported if I don’t do it.

And as I write that I realize that I’m writing this blog as well because I want to keep up with some schedule. It’s been more than 300 days (Belle reminded me) since my last hangover, and this is obviously something I need to work on.

I wonder if I’m the only one, but experience tells me no. I bet there are even people who aren’t alcoholics that have trouble sitting and getting better. I’m guessing that it sure doesn’t help though. Having Sante around really helps because he suggests movies to watch and keeps me sitting on the couch.

For an incredibly hard-working guy, both in his profession and at his hobbies, he is excellent at lounging around. It’s good to have role-models I guess. I’m open to suggestions, so if you have any tips on how to be better lay around when you’re ill, please leave them in the comments. For now, if you’ll excuse me, I think a cheesy action film is calling my name.

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