Sneezing in Shanghai

31 Mar
Yes - Kleenex has crossed the pond

Yes – Kleenex has crossed the pond

I have had a killer cold lately.  The kind that makes me sleep 12 hours a day and go through two boxes of Kleenex in less than a week.  Even after more than five years in Shanghai, there are still some cold remedies that I miss from the States, like NyQuil.

Being sick is one of the toughest things in a foreign country.  As an exchange student in Spain I fainted during a school excursion and had to describe my symptoms to the doctor, which was my first big issue in a foreign place.  I also remember being ill on a trip to Austria over 10 years ago and my friend trying to find a pharmacy to buy me cold medicine.  My first roommate in China had some serious intestinal problems and trying to explain anything to the doctor in another language is tough.

China is especially interesting though because there is both Chinese style TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and western style.  I still am never quite sure how or if the two methods will conflict.  This cold for example I have taken the Chinese equivalent of Tylenol Cold but also am taking a traditional cough syrup twice a day that a colleague recommended.  It’s all mixed up!

The Chinese medicine recommended by my colleagues to supposedly help cough.  One spoonful twice a day...

The Chinese medicine recommended by my colleagues to supposedly help cough. One spoonful twice a day…

I do think that my treatment (and lots of sleep) is working, but it has been a slow process for sure.  Hopefully I can stop sneezing soon and starting to enjoy spring.

Have you been sick in another country, especially one where you don’t speak the language fluently?  I think surviving a doctor’s office or hospital in those circumstances is a true test of language ability, not fun, but rewarding all the same.

11 Responses to “Sneezing in Shanghai”

  1. ladyofthecakes March 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Aw, poor you! A bad cold (well, actually, any kind of cold) just makes me miserable! Yup, it’s hard dealing with medical problems in other countries, even for trivial illnesses, never mind the more serious stuff.
    I still have some trouble understanding my dentist and my accountant, but I think it’s psychological… those two always present me with an enormous bill at the end, so I don’t really want to hear what they’re saying, lol.

    • gkm2011 March 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Thanks for the mental support! Staying positive helps too. The cost isn’t actually that high, but staying positive can be tough.

  2. Valerie April 1, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Not sick – but I did have to get stitches in my foot in another country. I had stitches before and had got Novacaine shots to help with getting the stitches. But this time, the doctor did not use stitches – just put me on my stomach and put the stitches going up my heel – needlesstosay, I will never forget that feeling!

    • gkm2011 April 1, 2013 at 7:50 am #

      Wow! I think that counts as a cultural difference! I think problems on the “outside” can be easier to deal with because at least you can point. Inside issues though take an even bigger leap of faith.

  3. TBM April 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    I hope you feel better soon! I had a stomach virus in Guatemala and it was difficult explaining my symptoms to those helping me. And last summer the better half had a horrible cold while we traveled through Berlin and Oslo. The pharmacists did their best to understand and recommend. But I think we just like having our “normal” cold medicine. Get well!

    • gkm2011 April 3, 2013 at 7:44 am #

      Yes, “normal” by our standards. I have gotten sick in Singapore before and discovered that their Panadol actually works better than any US cold remedy, so I have that in my arsenal too. Stomach problems are always tricky though.

      • TBM April 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

        I’ll have to remember Panadol. And really not much works with stomach issues. I find the best is to stay in my room. I can tough out a cold and sight see. Not so much with the other.

  4. Naomi Baltuck April 6, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Wishing you a swift recovery!

    • gkm2011 April 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      Thanks – am feeling better but still have a lingering cough. The weather isn’t helping, still wearing my winter coat in April.


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