Spanish Stories: Cooties

In the past six months, I’ve been sick more than I’ve been well.

I wake up every morning and shoot saline spray up each nostril; not the light squeeze bottle full of salty water, but an aerosol canon. Then, I blow my nose, and often, hack up a glob of lung butter directly into the sink. I check the color of my mucus everyday. It’s been a month since signs of an infection have been present in my snot. (Knock on wood.) However, I keep drinking copious amounts of water and hot tea with honey and take a decongestant every single day as a preventative measure. When I feel the slightest irritation in my throat, I swallow an ibuprofen and pop a cough drop in my mouth. I’ve gone through a shit ton of green tea bags and about 6 kilos of local honey. Not to mention one trip to the doctor, which is a whole other issue, and a biweekly trip to my local pharmacist. While, I haven’t crunched the numbers, I’ve certainly spent quite a bit of time and money maintaining a low baseline of health.

All right, sure, I didn’t have the strongest immune system before I moved to Spain. In fact, a have been classified by my peers as “sickly” on more than one occasion. I do suffer from allergies, sinusitis, migraines, and chronic sore throat (mainly from post-nasal drip and sleeping with an open mouth). I deal with it on minimal medication and instead opt for home remedies and homeopathic hacks. I’m not a hippy; although, I have been overmedicated in the past and remain weary of too many doctor visits.

The obvious culprit for my prolonged illness is the classroom full of germy children. The lack of hand washing and mouth covering and regular attendance of sick children is astonishing, at first. When you’re asked for tissues constantly or coughed-on whilst helping a student, you begin to feel like an overworked mother with 200+ children, and man, do I have a whole new appreciation for parents and teachers. Yet slowly, I learned that this is normal, not just for Spanish children, but for Spanish adults, as well. I’m coughed-on on a daily basis: on the bus, on the sidewalk, in line at the store, etc. Then, there’s the public spitting. Gross, right? Well, when you are suffering from your fifth consecutive cold you expel that phlegm with zero fucks. Trust me, I’ve been there #sorrynotsorry. It would seem that Galicia is a breeding ground for chest infections and no one is safe.

Since I cannot remove sick children from my life or move, I must come prepared and that includes a good nights rest every night, maintaining warmth with appropriate clothing, drinking little to no alcohol, and forget smoking (ironic, since its so smoker friendly here). I’ve become the embodiment of a buzz kill. The ultimate wet blanket in a party culture. It’s so cold, wet, and windy here that leaving my flat, especially when I don’t have to, is a struggle.

The real kicker is that layers of warm clothing do precious little. My thin Floridian blood is not compatible with average highs of 52F and lows of 32F, which isn’t that cold and frankly, I look ridiculous on the street among the windbreaker-wearing masses. I want to look cute but I also don’t want to get sick yet again. So rain boots, bulky sweaters, and utilitarian coat it is until summer, since spring, is proving to be winter 2.0 (at least, for me). My obsession with the seasons and weather has permeated my lesson plans. The fickle mistress of maritime weather has become my education muse. I keep finding ways to inject my classroom discussions with the cliché of talking about the weather and what to do in it/with/about it and how to describe it. Maybe I should name my memoirs: The Rain in Spain Falls, not so Gently, to my Distain or How I Dealt with Constant Colds.



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