Monday, December 5, 2011

Can a person be allergic to a country?

This is a completely serious question. Every time we go to Sweden I get what seems to be a cold. Sneezing, wheezing, endless running nose. I'd like to blame it on Ryanair (because even though it's super cheap, I feel less like a customer and more like a piece of luggage) but I can't. We don't always fly with them. I don't think I can handle being allergic to a country I will be visiting at least once a year for the rest of my life.

Some people might say it's the stress of living in a third language, one which I have absolutely no instincts for yet. If I look confused here in Florence people switch to English, when I look confused in Sweden they rephrase the question in ever simpler terms (I assume), eventually giving up and concluding (maybe rightly so) that I'm not all there. Who can blame them? I look so Swedish.

This time I guess I can blame it on 1) the recirculated air on the plane, 2) 4 days of public transportation in Stockholm and 3) the vent in our romantic room on the ship which blew hot dry air directly into my berth (I love talking like a sailor) all night long.

Sadly, this time the cold/allergy/whatever has stayed with me. The last two days it has reached epic proportions. I couldn't breath when I laid down, my head hurt, my left ear ached, and my left eyeball throbbed. All in all a very unpleasant experience. I bought some cough drops at the supermarket in an attempt to clear my head up, at least long enough to fall asleep. They are called Monk's so I mistakenly assumed they would be Christian in their treatment of me and my cold. Leif also put some orange juice in our basket that had vitamins added.

I popped one of the drops in my mouth as soon as we got home. It did wonders for my nose. Leif poured me a glass of juice as I reached the end of the drop. I don't know which thing to blame, the drops or the juice, but halfway through the glass I started to feel like throwing up and the feeling didn't leave me until the next morning. If it was the cough drops their treatment of me was very unchristian-like. If it was the juice,well, that's just wrong. It's orange juice, the healthiest thing on the planet practically.

I'm remembering now that in the States those drops with liquid centers tended to make me feel a little queasy. I'm also remembering that I have been told that sometimes Italian products are stronger than their counterparts in the US. So whether it's the cough drops or the vitamin enriched juice I don't know, but I won't be trying either one again. Ever. It's just not worth it.

I made myself some chicken noodle soup yesterday. It must have been entertaining to watch. I propped myself up against the counter and tried not to sneeze directly onto anything. When standing got to be too much I sat on the love seat in the kitchen. I didn't lay down because I was afraid I would fall asleep and burn the house down. I know, I said I couldn't fall asleep but experience has taught me that just when you think something can't happen, it will. Leif said it was good. I couldn't tell you because I couldn't actually taste anything at that point. But I'm a firm believer in the power of chicken noodle soup so I made it and I ate it.

I hear some of you in the back asking "Why not just go to the pharmacy and get something?" Good question. My answer to you is that I was barely functioning in English, Any attempts to describe my symptoms or to ask for a product similar to something in the States would probably have reduced me to tears and given the pharmacist a good laugh for the next week. Neither of these scenarios would result in my feeling better.

Luckily this morning I woke up feeling a whole lot better. I was starting to get a little frustrated. Somewhere in my early years I got the idea that being sick was a personal failure. There's nothing worse than feeling like crap and beating yourself up mentally for not being able to will yourself better. So I'll continue to take naps. I can do this without guilt now as the rains of November have finally arrived and I won't see sunshine and feel like I should be out there enjoying it (a very Minnesotan reaction to the sun, any time of the year).

outside seating with heaters
and fur chair covers-
how awesome is that?
Because I have tons of pictures from my trip I will now share pictures totally unrelated to this post, but I hate to waste perfectly good travel pictures on myself. Here are two places we went to for coffee during our visit to Stockholm.

the tree is growing inside the building

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