A Quick Story: When you have a cold in France

I have a cold. It’s not a big deal, really. My nose is a bit runny and I think I have a low fever, but that’s it. I’m fine. Sure, it sucks that I don’t feel great since I have a bunch of work to do and I’m going to Paris this weekend, but at home this would barely register on the illness scale. I’d just drink some orange juice, toss back some nyquil and go to bed early. Problem solved. Not so for the French.

When I came home from class today my host mom noticed that I didn’t have much color in my face. “Do you want some orange juice?” she asked as I made my way towards my room. “Nah, I’m good. Thank you though,” was my half-hearted reply as I worked on breathing through my nose without making too much noise.

Then before dinner, she and my host dad commented on how congested I sounded. “Do you need any cold medicine? We are like a pharmacy here,” my host mom said. “No thanks, not right now,” I replied, not wanting to use their meds since I’m planning on going to the pharmacy tomorrow anyways.

Then I sneezed at dinner. Heaven forbid. My host mom said, “Ok, you’re taking something,” and ran to the cabinet. She withdrew a basket of boxes full of medicines that treat who-knows-what and began sifting through them.

“Ok…no, not this…this makes your gums bleed…no that’s not right…” she murmured to herself as I strained to hear if I was understanding everything correctly. Finally she chose two boxes which contained packets of powder.

“Take each of these twice a day for at least the next two days. If you feel like you need anything else, let me know. You can research this on the internet if it makes you feel any better, but I didn’t need a recipe (what she calls a prescription) to buy it so there’s nothing too bad in it,” she instructed like a good French mother, all the while saying “Oh, poor thing, are you sure you don’t want to go to the doctor?” as I sniffled and wheezed while reading the boxes.

All of this just for a cold. At least I know I am well taken care of!

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