Friday, January 22, 2010

Sick, Sick, Sick

For the better part of the past week, I've been combating one serious cold. Apparently, it's going 'round London right now, and I've been lucky enough to be host to a few of the germies the past several days.
When I was wallowing in misery on the couch the other day, it dawned on me that this is twice in 3 months I've been taken down with a cold.  Not taken down in the 'i-dont-feel-great' sense, but taken down as in, 'not-going-to-work-i-feel-so-poorly' sense.  Geez. 

I can count on one finger the number of times I had to take more than a day off from sickness the past 4 years in the US-perhaps 4 fingers in total if you also add a day here or there for various sick days.  But, this is now a combined 6 days in 3 months!  What gives?  I'd heard the old wive's tale about UK germs being of a different kind than US germs (I am *so* over-simplifying here, but you get the gist...), and thought it was complete bunk when I heard it. A cold is a cold.

Apparently not!  I'm a fairly health person, but I guess even here in the UK, it's just a different beast.  Brace yourselves, new expats.


  1. I just got over a pretty nasty cold my self a few days ago. You're not alone!

  2. I think that wives' tale is actually true. My sister lives in China and spent her first year there very sick--it really is just different germs, different strains of viruses, etc. and different populations of people. Of course, with the steady march of globalization it may be that some day there's not such an obvious difference. But for now, you really do have the immune system linked to the place you grew up!

  3. I forget how long you've been in the UK now, but I would second NFAH's thought that the old wive's tale is true. My mom told me when I moved to France that I had a choice - drink the water and suffer a stomach upset, or use boiled water all year even for tooth brushing. I drank the water and sure enough got sick. But when I went back to visit a couple of years later I was fine because my system had already been exposed to the local water. When I worked in a boarding school we knew that there would always be lots of sick students and staff after a vacation that was long enough for the international students to have travelled home and returned bringing new strains of sickness with them.

    In terms of colds - I think it is partly that there are slightly different strains of viruses that you have to get used to and also partly that culture shock can actually lower your immune system. The culture shock may not be obvious - increased susceptibility to illness may be its only manifestation.

  4. Kristina:

    Trying to contact you.

    Please send me your email

    (prof at LBS)

  5. It's definitely true! I'm a teacher and I got so sick so many times the first year teaching here. I got an infection and lost my voice, I had really bad colds, I got ear sister said that the first year everytime we seemed to talk on the phone I was sick with something else!

  6. Hi All,
    Thanks for your comments-glad to know it's not just me (though, I don't mean to sentence you all to the same outcome...).
    The illnesses are much worse here, but recovery seems to be be super-swift. It's all rather odd-after being out of work for 3 days last week, I feel about 80% now, and expect to be fine in a few days longer. In the US, I would have just felt 'eh' for 2-3 weeks.


  7. Hi Kristina:

    I would love to pick your brain about a couple of things as I am 30 somthing and have always wanted to live in London. Can I please have your email address to contact you (promise I won't fill your inbox with junk)? :)