By Madeline Blasberg
I am sick.
That is to say, I have fallen ever so tragically ill to a horribly vindictive cold bug. Whatever it is, it is trying hard to kill me, but I am a sturdy, stubborn woman and I shall continue to put up whatever resistance I can muster, no matter how futile the effort.
And, because I am in a “home stay situation,” it turns out that the worst part is being sick in someone else’s home. Sniffling and sneezing and coughing and wheezing, and generally being miserable is always so much more enjoyable in the comfort of one’s own home. There I can camp out in the living room, munching saltine crackers and watching marathons of re-runs without a care in the world. But when I am a guest in someone’s home, I have to concern myself with the welfare of the community. Aka: quarantine.
For the last several days, the door to my room stayed shut (except when I had to run out and replenish supplies of tissues and movies), and I tried to minimize the display of misery so as not to worry the mama of the casa. When she came into my room the other morning to find my raspy voice and runny nose, she gave me the universal uni-eyebrow lift that mother’s use to say: don’t you hide from me missy, are you sick?? “No, no,” I assured her, “It’s nothing. I’m sure it will pass in a day or two.” She then proceeded to offer me free access to her in-house pharmacy cupboard, but my inner voice said that drug labels in español sounded a little bit sketchy at this juncture. No, no, I would wait until I was closer to death before I crossed that bridge.
Also, generally speaking, I do not like to pill pop. I wish I had a well-supported argument for why I refuse to take medicine when I feel like a million-pound dinosaur is romping around in my head, but I don’t. I’m just stubbornly convinced that it is the better, nobler thing to do when one is feeling under the weather. Therefore, I explored a variety of other options. Enter the most haphazardly constructed homeland security proposal ever devised. I call it:
Cure the Gringa: A holistic health plan for the sick and significantly far from home
Phase One – The food pharmacy
Thankfully, I live in a household in which delicious meals rich in vegetables are always on the daily menu. All I needed to do was amp up the leafy greens, throw in three times as many oranges, and go on a hunt for ginger. Ginger is a magical thing. Once again, I am not entirely clear on what it does for one’s body, but I do know that it is a wonder food and excellent in times of crisis. Too bad the process of finding it in this country is somewhat less excellent. Given my somewhat horrifying tendency to invent vocabulary when I am without my dictionary, I decided to just go by sight — popping into every Mercado within walking distance. Nine stops and three hours later, I abandoned the search. Conclusion: either ginger does not exist in Argentina, or I should invest in a pocket dictionary.
Phase Two – Hydration
At home I tout around a jumbo Nalgene with me everywhere I go, forcing myself into a water regimen of 64 oz. a day. Unfortunately, in one of several packing miscalculations, the Nalgene bottle did not make the trip to Argentina. Therefore, I have been using the shot-glass sized cups in our kitchen to down as much water as humanly possible, hoping to flush out or drown whatever bug has gotten hold of me.
Phase Three – Major siesta-ing
I’m not going to beat around the bush; this has been the best and hardest part of my get-well regimen. I love to sleep, but it’s really hard to miss out on what everyone else is up to while I am snuggled up in bed. But I am determined to get well, and for that reason I was forced to opt out of a spectacular drag queen show, a shopping trip into the centro and a date with the most succulent ice cream in the world: mascarpone con frutas del bosque. But alas, I must rest.
Phase Four – Solicit state-side pity
This is tricky. It requires a certain delicacy. While skyping, one must subtly hint to one’s loved ones of said illness, but only enough to elicit loving encouragement…not enough to induce the parents to moving up one’s return flight and shipping one’s miserable self back home. Handle this phase delicately.
Phase Five – Wait and hope for the best.
And that’s pretty much where I find myself now. Crossing my fingers, thinking that I should probably dive into the mountain of Spanish readings that await me, and quickly running out of tissues.