Last week a flu bug passed through our family. Normally we get sick at the most inconvenient times. But this time we were in between teams, so it was an OK time to be sick. Is that weird? It was a total body aching, pounding head ache, thing. I am thankful that it wasn’t a stomach flu though, because there is nothing in the world that I hate more than throwing up. Seriously.
But the weird thing about having a fever is that sometimes I hallucinate in Spanish. I can’t even describe how strange that is. I do crazy things like trying to conjugate proper names. It’s just wacky. This time around I didn’t actually hallucinate in Spanish, but I did translate my own thoughts into Spanish all night long. It was like my brain got stuck in Spanish mode and I couldn’t shut it off. I woke up feeling like I had worked all night long instead of slept. it was awful! I can now say that I have been sick in Spanish. (OK that little play on words is lame-o).
Here in Costa Rica you can get a lot of medicines over the counter at the pharmacy that would require a prescription in the States. The Pharmacist can actually do some doctory type things too like giving vaccinations and checking for ear infections. They aren’t supposed to dispense antibiotics without a prescription, but sometimes they do. However, they NEVER give you any instructions sheet or cross medications warning or ANYTHING informative with the meds. If you are lucky, they might write the recommended dose on the box, but nothing more. I now have a collection of dosing cups and droppers that I brought from America because they don’t usually come with the medications here!
In Mexico it was worse. You could get anything without a prescription. (The government once considered giving free Viagra to men over 60 to improve their quality of life!) I remember once when Lucy was a baby I thought she probably had an ear infection. So I called her pediatrician to make an appointment and was told, “Just go to the pharmacy and get some antibiotics!” Oh, silly me. So I went to talk to the pharmacist. He asked how old she was and how much she weighed. Then he handed me a bottle 1/4 full of a white powder with absolutely no instructions. I was lucky there was a label with the name of the antibiotic on it.
I took my bottle of powder home and called Walgreen’s in my home city in Minnesota. I explained that I was in Mexico and they had given me this with no dosing instructions. What would they recommend I give a 6 month old baby. I read all the numbers off the label to the American Pharmacist. She told me, “Wow, we don’t even sell that strength here in America! I would dilute it up to the top of the bottle and give her no more than a teaspoon twice a day.” She also said to discontinue use if she started acting differently. Oh great. Now I feel better.
I know it sounds scary and complicated, but when I’m in the States sometimes I miss the ease of just walking into a pharmacy and buying some high-powered drugs without the hassle and expense of seeing a doctor first. I just have to remember to NOT go to the drug store when I’m hallucinating in Spanish or else I might come home with a dose of Viagra instead of cough syrup.