Archive for February, 2009

The Illness

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

This is apparently the month of flu in Latvia. Last Wednesday morning I was finally enthusiastically cajoled into getting a flu shot at work. The secretary had sent an office-wide e-mail the week before, came in Wednesday morning to ask if really nobody wanted to get a flu shot, then told us we had until what I understood to be the 12th to decide if we wanted the shot or not. Turns out the 12 was actually for the o’clock version, at what time she scampered back into our room with a “Anybody? Anybody? You! [pointing to me] I know YOUUUU want a flu shot! C’mon, c’mon!” Supposedly there needed to be a minimum of 10 people to take the shot for it to count for something. Either way, it was “free”, so I went for it. Then, come Friday, I have a scratchy throat. Then Saturday I have half a voice. Sunday my entire back feels like I’ve been doing non-stop weights to strengthen my spine. HOLD UP. Not entirely fair. I was told by the nurse that the vaccine would take about 10 days to kick in and, at the time, I wanted to jokingly comment that a virus then had 10 days to get a move on and set up shop in my body. I guess I would have been more than accurate.

I’ve always thought that the “If you get a flu shot you’re going to get sick anyway” thing was always a myth, falling in the list of “medical myths started to make you feel bad about doing something ‘right’ for your body” — a list my mother (love you, mom!) cites frequently. But then my father said the same thing, that the flu shots just have the adverse reaction in some people. And, if you think about it, it makes sense. They inject you with the virus to help your body learn to fight that virus, but for some people it’s just a free and easy trip for the virus into your system. I was also once told by a doctor in the States that I should always consider getting the vaccines because, as a sufferer of asthma, flu leading to coughing leading to wheezing could land me in the hospital.

Hence why I’m staying home for the second day in a row. Monday I took the day off completely, no work, no answering my mobile. I slept, ate some hot and sour chinese soup, caught up a bit on TV through the Internet, slept some more and drank liquids. Today I’m working from home becuase 1) I slept badly, thinking from previous experience that if I sleep on my side instead of my back, my lungs won’t have to work harder and I’ll be able to breathe. Unfortunately for me, this time around it took me too long to figure out that I SHOULD sleep on my back, or stand, to be able to breathe normally. 2) As such, I’ve been using my inhaler a bit too much (don’t worry, I’m pacing myself…) and I don’t need people at work either calling an ambulance because they think I’ll keel over any second or thinking I’m an addict. 3) I like to NOT be the person who comes to work all infected, licking doorknobs and sneezing in other’s faces. If I’m sick, I’m smart enough to work from home where the only other people at risk are my flatmate and the cat. I’m also lucky in that my job is flexible location wise, so I can work from home if really need be and still get something done.

That being said, the Internets are great. It’s likely I’ll suck it up and go out to buy some kind of Vick’s Vapo Rub similar item, as internal medicines aren’t doing much for me right now and I promised my grandmother, “No cocktails.”

Happy February

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Greetings in February 2009!

I understand that life is cold and wintery for most of you, but we’ve finally been getting some sun here in Latvia! I went running in Mezaparks this past Sunday with a friend — in 20ºF conditions, no less. It was great, though, to be outside and finally moving. And surprisingly, running on ice is not as deadly as I had imagined it to be. True, my mostly up-and-down running style instead of forward-ho probably looked ridiculous, but my lack of broken bones or shattered elbows indicate it was the smart choice.

I’ve also discovered that (for now), flavour syrup is a complementary goodie when you buy low quality coffee from Narvesen newspaper and convenience store kiosks.

In comparison to the first half of the month, the rest of January was pretty mellow. Nothing else interesting happened in terms of life, I should say, except that the cold I had when my dad left Riga was over by the end of the weekend. RESULT! I found mould growing on the walls by the back window, washed it off, etc.

One thing I did miss out on toward the end of the month was the Burns Night celebration. I’ve been looking forward to being around Latvia for Burns Night since my internship stint at BCCL. I wrote an e-mail expressing my excitement for the event to the Director, but then never followed through on reserving a ticket.

What was my reason for passing up this evening of whiskey, bagpipes, haggis and plaid? Egypt. Yes, Egypt. A couple of friends and I have booked a week on a resort in Egypt at the end of February. Every santim is being counted, folks, and not just because of the economic crisis. The Egypt thing still hasn’t set in and I’m quite certain that it won’t until I get back to Riga and look through my camera and see a picture of myself riding a camel.

Before I forget, I’m kind of hoping one will bite me so I can add to my list.

Another interesting thing, just to point out where our priorities as Latvians lie. Considering all of the taxes that are now being imposed on such items as cigarettes and beer, people are most upset about the coffee tax. Women at the grocery store yesterday were having a heated discussion about it, saying how the government had wanted to put a tax on tea, as well, but they weren’t able to do it. I suppose the beer tax is so small that no one is too worried about it, but on our COFFEE? Oh HELL no, you DIDN’T!

I sort of wonder if there will be a “Riga coffee party”, where angered citizens will attack a shipment of coffee and dump it into the Daugava River. Which would be funny, because the coffee would probably be the instant kind, and a river of instant coffee just strikes me as funny. But at least the river would smell good – or neutral – for a day.

My flatmate also finally returned from her winter vacationing in Canada. The cat was thrilled to have new suitcases to walk through.