It is winter and that means cold/flu/phlegm ball time!

I have just been mountain biking 3 out of the last 4 days, which normally would not be something worth noting except that I was sick for nearly a month straight and could barely manage more than a walk to and from the supermarket.

‘Tis the season for passing around germs here in Barcelona. I wasn’t sick for a year, and then as if on cue, I caught a cold. Well it started as a cold, but then morphed into strange and irritating forms. As soon as I would start to feel better, I got hit with some variation of the thing. It probablydidn’t help that I have a 30/40 minute freezing scooter ride to and from work every day, and no matter how many clothes I piled on, I was still an icicle when I got to work/home. And that it poured rain on me for around three of those early days. Also that half my office was suddenly sick as well.

The first variation of said cold was fever related body aches and some kind of viral(?) related back pain that shot daggers through me when I turned or stepped a certain way. Then just as that subsided, I got a nasty and painful mouth blister near my tonsils and some kind of pulmonary infection that had me coughing up vivid green balls of phlegm. The other week I worked out something that made me think of the start of that Stephen King novel, where all but a handful of people die of an airborne disease to set the stage for the story. The beginning has descriptions of the illness developing in people and I guess it made their mucous membranes work overtime, and well, if you read it, you know the disgustingness of which I am talking about. If not, it’s probably for the best.

Iit seems like when I get sick here it just hangs on forever. I know that a densely populated area and using public transport (including public bicycles) means one is touching other people’s germs all day long.  A few people recommended I visit the doctor when I got my mystery spinal pain, but I resisted. I am lucky to have had only one hospital visit in my three plus years here, which was only to get an x-ray to confirm a broken collarbone, which was an emergency room visit like any other, with people waiting around forever to be seen. But when it came time for treatment, I stood in a hallway for probably two hours with 15 other people waiting for an x-ray. That gave me a lot of time to inspect said walls in that hallway, and they were not particularly clean, nor was the treatment room. Which made me glad I had no open wounds.

This is not the first time I have lived in a country with socialized medicine, but I would rather pay for health insurance any day. The saying that  you get what you pay for is true as far as healthcare is concerned here. It isn’t much of a mystery either as to why I see so many people with only half their teeth in their head. The thinking is, hey, if you can still chew, then any fix would be considered cosmetic and anyway, we don’t care if you look like a Jack-o-lantern. Maybe you should have brushed your teeth more regularly. (which, to their credit, the Spanish people do very vigilantly. Every bathroom in my office is full of personal toothbrushes.)  And the kicker is that it isn’t really “free” healthcare. The money for this system comes out of every working person’s already incredibly small paycheck, and yet plenty of freeloaders enjoy leeching off the social security system while legally living in uninhabited buildings. On the plus side, over the counter medications and even prescriptions are incredibly cheap.

But I am getting sidetracked. You want to know how I finally got well, don’t you? Well I will tell you anyway. Hand cleaner, no touching any part of boyfriend for a week, a week off of work (not for my illness, it was basically a week long holiday here) and a kickass round of antibiotics –that cost me less than 2 euros over the counter. It is finally gone, nasty mouth blister and all. Tomorrow however, I go back to that sick bed of an office.

I am hopeful that I can stave off any new developments before I head to the US on Friday.  I will employ what the Germans call “preventative medicine” – that is, a shot of booze with the morning coffee. Here, though, they just call it breakfast.

Note: I know my last post was kind of boring, but I had that thing waiting as a draft since summer and I got tired of looking at it sitting there all forlorn and like it wanted to get out and mingle, so I had to set it free. This one probably wasn’t much better. I apologize.