Medical advice

Have you ever found that when you’re ill with a cold or flu, you’ll try doing anything to get rid of it… Including following the advice of friends, family or colleagues, who often suddenly believe themselves to be medical experts, when faced with a willing “patient”!

While living in China, the advice I received for any illness was to “drink hot water and wear more clothes”, regardless of the season, weather or actual illness! When something more stringent is needed to fight off an infection, you might be advised to drink herbal tea (one such tea that my students loved tasted like mud to me!), vinegar (yuck!) or make up a lovely remedy involving ginger. My favourite of these is boiling Coca Cola or Pepsi with ginger. It tastes good and makes your sore throats/colds feel much better. On Sunday, I had totally lost my voice, and it’s been slowly returning thanks to drinking hot ginger Pepsi every day! (I also went to the doctor to get antibiotics, just in case, as I have a lovely infection.)

Of course, as well as giving advice on how to cure your cold/ flu, you will also find many helpful friends, colleagues and family members who will enjoy speculating as to how you got ill in the first place. In Romania, I find the reasons that people give for how you got sick most amusing. In fact, air conditioning, a cold draft of air from an open window, or walking outside when the temperature is less than 18 degrees Celsius is the cause of most illnesses in Romania (according to many people I’ve met here, who think having small children coughing, sneezing on me and using me as a tissue all day long has nothing to do with it…)

Incidentally, Romanian remedies are just as fun as Chinese ones. They include eating raw garlic (yuck), eating soup, staying inside (with the windows closed of course) and drinking “onion tea” (I am yet to try this, as I find the thought of a cup full of onions and hot water somewhat repulsive!)

A lovely thing about being ill in China, was that many of my students would bring fruit or herbal teas to my apartment to help me get better. (Indeed, I would often be “fruit bombed” by enthusiastic students even when I was not ill. I call it “fruit bombing” because they would see me, greet me, throw an apple or banana at me and run off, before I had a chance to politely refuse the gift.) So far, no one in Romania has done this… it’s such a shame, having to buy my own fruit again! ūüėú