Home, sick

I posted on Facebook yesterday that I was home sick, and one of my friends–a European transplant to California–misread it as “homesick” and said that she felt the same. She figured it out, but I thought it was amusing as it is quite common to feel homesick when you are home, sick, in a foreign country and missing creature comforts associated with being sick back home. For us Americans, that’s things like the magical OTC marvel “NyQuil” for which no UK equivalent exists. Judging by the status updates of fellow sick Americans this week, this is one of those things we all bring back in our luggage. For me another is Aleve, an NSAID that doesn’t seem to be available in Europe and that works much better than ibuprofen for me, for some reason I have never been able to concretely establish (but suspect is because for a time I was on 2.4 gm of the stuff per day during a bad bout of arthritis pain, so I suspect I’ve built up some sort of immunity to the stuff!) A few years back a colleague at work tried to give me “LemSip” which as far as I can tell has a devoted following in the UK not unlike the American devotees of NyQuil, but I’m afraid it made me gag and did not make me feel better in any way, shape or form. Ditto with the remarkably thick, gooey and disgusting “chesty cough” syrup that I found here. It’s Robitussin or nothing for this girl, as it has been for pretty much all 35 of my years on this planet!

Being home, sick is not nearly as much fun as having a day off work. Although you have spare time with the internet and no constraints, you feel like crap and that sort of detracts from the freedom. I also find that it’s the only time I take naps. I could tell I was really sick when I needed a nap yesterday, as it was the first time I can remember since living in England that I have properly called in sick and then gone back to bed. I recall doing so back in Virginia, which would be more than five years ago. So I am lucky, I do not seem to get laid low all that often. The usual seasonal cold, of course, but this was much worse than that. I have a legendary tendency to avoid superfluous medical intervention, so as I am not actually dying I have not been out seeking professional help, but I suspect a mild form of bronchitis from the way that I sound like a baby seal barking unless I am constantly drinking fluids.

Which brought me to the realization that I have stopped drinking tea, except when I am sick. This is terribly un-British behavior, and in stark contrast to the many adaptations I have made to local life after 5 years living here. I used to drink tea quite regularly, back in the US before my arrival here. I was particularly fond of this magical sort:

I happened to find that I still had a few tea bags of this left in my cupboard, from some care package years back, when I was still drinking tea more frequently. In my home, sick state, my homesick self was thrilled to find Constant Comment in the cupboard and it is that which has been keeping my baby seal bark under control, as I try and half-work from my bed with my laptop. It’s never terribly productive, sick working, since the head tends to feel quite fuzzy, but you can sometimes get rather dull things done like answering 10,000 boring emails and doing website updates. I know, my life, the glamour–can’t even take a proper sick day. It’s true. With a 24-7 job, it’s tough to have such a luxury. At least I have tea.

Late Update: apparently I was home sick on a day in June. I know this because I blogged about it. I’m not the only one who goes back and reads their own blog archives and goes “OH YEAH!” right?


7 responses to “Home, sick

  1. I was nodding my head when you said that being unwell at home is not the enjoyable freedom being at home could be, because you just feel so awful. I always get annoyed by that on the rare days I am so ill that I ‘call in’ sick (or in other words, throw in the towel and let everyone else do the cooking and clearing up!). And do you ever find that you need to say ‘ill’ or ‘unwell’ instead of ‘sick’ in the UK? ‘Sick’ seems to mean vomiting most of the time. I usually get it wrong, saying ‘I was sick’ and they think I was vomiting.

  2. Lemsip is disgusting in all flavours, I was overjoyed when they brought out the capsule form although I find Benilyn more effective. Hope you feel better soon.

  3. 1) I went to the pharmacy this past summer when my grandmother came for a visit and she arrived running a fever and with a hacking cough. There was NO decent cough medicine anywhere. It was sugary syrup with barely any kind of medicinal value to it. Growing up in a family of doctors and nurses, I’m used to ‘treating’ my sick friends and family (years of learning by pseudo-osmosis) and I couldn’t find any decent antisussives or expectorant ingredients. Oy.

    One natural thing which I’ve found that withstood rigorous clinical trials is called Umcka cold care which is sold by Whole Foods back in the States…but not here. The natural medicines here are almost placebos…I have no idea why.

    2) I LOVE Constant Comment — I made a friend bring me some from home. I like all kinds of tea, but CC is my FAVORITE!!!

  4. Try Night Nurse. It comes in pill form and I think liquid too. They don’t keep it out on the shelves so you have to ask for it at the pharmacy counter. I am a devoted NyQuil lover and always bring back some when I go home, but I ran out and had to find something else because Lemsip is gross and doesn’t work that well. Night Nurse is strong and will knock you out so take it and go to bed.

  5. Late to the party… As someone else mentioned, Night Nurse is the equivalent to Nyquil – I can’t stand either. As for Aleve, while you can get a prescription for naproxen, it is also found over the counter as feminax – it’s expensive but if you’re desperate for it & can’t get a prescription it may be worth it.

  6. Well, I am day late and dollar short, but I Googled naproxin (Alleve) and found here it is also listed out as Naprosyn and available as a prescription medicine. If you have to go to the doctor perhaps you could get some for your arthiritis and use as you will. I have been back in England since February but am still finding things I miss….

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