how to be/not be ill in paris...

Jan 7th, 2006, 01:27 PM
  #1  
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how to be/not be ill in paris...

well, it finally happened (statistically just a matter of time abetted by overall carelessness), i got rather sick over christmas in paris...

we arrived on the 24th after a long flight from atlanta during which an obviously ill young child spent most of the trip coughing in my direction. to be fair, her father , with whom she was travelling alone did ask the stewardess (no, i'm not going for flight attendant) for some help apparently none of which was available.

anyhow we hit paris at 35 degrees as opposed to the 65 we left in atlanta. i decide, rather cavalierly, not to unpack my coat but ,rather, tough it out in my sport coat for the RER ride into town and the, admittedly, short walk to the hotel.

the long trip (we had driven from savannah to atlanta...i had some business to attend to) and the thinner air had us both beat tired and we napped until 9pm. we've stayed at the same hotel several times and had no problems knowing where to catch a late bite.

mistake #2: my wife is endothermic (which i think means she's always warm). i, on the contrary, am exothermic and thus should not sleep on top of the covers when SHE opens the goddamn windows in the middle of the winter. did i mention i was exhausted and fell out almost immediately?

well, be that as it may, dawn breaks on christmas day and we do as we always do: walk the ile st. louis; attend the 11:30 mass at notre dame; stroll the seine to the pont alexandre (the foo foo pont to mme. subcon) and have chocolates and champagne on the esplanade of the invalides.

we later attend the ballet swan lake at the opera bastille and finish with a traditional shellfish jubilee at our local bistrot in the 12th. so far, so good but i'm starting to get that all too familiar tingling of the skin and soreness in the joints.

mistake #3: i had medication with me (the southern cure all...goody powders). if i had taken them that night, things might have been way different.. i knew i was coming down with a cold but figured, what the hell...i haven't really been sick in years.

did i mention it was real, real cold in paris that week? it snow flurried 5 of the 8 days we were there. it's all very pretty but creepingly lethal for someone developing a bronchial infection.

whatever, we had reservations for le coupe chou on the 26th. since i'd been told it was a bit hard to find, we scoped it out earlier in the day while walking the neighborhood. well, it was every bit hard to find and we spent the better part of an hour and a half freezing both our asses off before we had it right .

to be continued...same thread
subcon is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 03:28 PM
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Ooohhh poor subcon.......waiting.......
Scarlett is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 04:08 PM
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I think the Japaneese have it right, when where possible infection, wear the mask. Seriously, some are more easily infected than others. I never get colds but others do easily.
cigalechanta is online now  
Jan 7th, 2006, 04:56 PM
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I always travel with zicam swabs anymore. Even so, it hasn't kept me from coming down with a cold here at home. So I'm just hoping it really will shorten the duration.
LadyOLeisure is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 05:48 PM
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cmt
 
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I think being in a plane and changing so many time zones are really hard on the immune system, and then sitting next to a sneezer during the whole flight probably added more factor too many in setting you up for a cold. The two things that tend to make me most susceptible to colds are being near cigarette smoke and flying.
cmt is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 08:23 PM
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That's too bad, I have always dreaded that but amazingly have never actually been sick on a trip, so have had good luck.

Colds are caused by viruses, and you can't take anything to prevent them if you've already been infected. They aren't caused by cold weather, either.
Christina is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 08:54 PM
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It's true you can't really prevent a cold once the symptoms have surfaced, but I swear by Zicam - plus a host of incredible stuff I've picked up at French pharmacies - to either completely stall a cold or make it last only a day or two. I haven't really been sick (had a cold) in more than 30 years. My kids come home from school with horrible colds and I spray with my French nasal sprays and use Zicam and use the French eucalyptus spray and I'm home free. Love those French pharmacies!
StCirq is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 08:56 PM
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Airborne (available OTC in the U.S.) seems to actually work to stall a cold or at least eliminate the symptoms. I'm sure it doesn't stop the virus, but it's not the virus that produces the symptoms, it's the immune reaction to the virus, and apparently Airborne calms that down. I take it each time I feel any sign of a cold coming on, and since I have begun doing so (about six months now), I've had no colds, or at least I've had no cold symptoms.

Temperature and weather do not cause colds, so you can forget about those. You catch a cold by exposure to a cold virus to which you're not already immune, and that's much more likely when you are travelling. Avoid people who are coughing, sneezing, and hacking, and clean your hands with disinfectant after touching the hands of people who show symptoms or surfaces that are touched by many people (in the subway, for example).

If you need medical care urgently, be advised that the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly has all English-speaking staff. It's a private hospital and you have to pay on the spot, but it's much cheaper than American emergency rooms (because it has to compete with the national health system here in France). And it is the only JCAHO-accredited hospital outside the U.S.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 08:57 PM
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Can you buy Zicam in the USA?
degas is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 10:19 PM
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Whew!
I'm all fatigued from just reading that first post. I'm certain to catch a cold in my run-down state.
platzman is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 10:29 PM
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Sorry, I hit the send button before finishing.
On the average, I probably get colds/sore throats/coughs about 50% of the time when travelling. One day, my luck will improve. Until then, I rely on a supply of Nyquil and Dayquil capsules.
platzman is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 10:32 PM
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Yes, degas
Scarlett is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 12:11 AM
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Zicam actually has a full line of products now.The spray in the red box is a must to take overseas. I see that they now have their version of an Afrin product now in a green box. Buy at a Walmart or Target as you can save several dollars a box as opposed to other places.On a personal note-has anyone else felt sick intestinally after drinking AIRBORNE? Everytime I use it I find myself hours later in the bathroom alot.(Sorry too much information...)A really great thing that alot of flight crews use is the saline nasal spray or gel before they get on the flight. It coats your nasal membranes so that they don't dry out during the flight and also seems to lessen the cold germ process starting.
dutyfree is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 01:12 AM
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tod
 
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Here in South Africa we have a company called Servier Laboratories which makes a throat & nasal spray combination registered as LOCABIOTAL.
This looks like a asthma pump and is easy to carry in ones pocket.
It is wise to use the spray in your nose & throat before boarding and perhaps once during the flight. It has an effect on germs something like
an insect spray on flies!
tod is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 08:19 AM
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well, to finish...

we left the restaurant about 11:30 and by the time we reach the hotel i'm into full blown chills and a cold sweat. i'm also obviously running a temperature but who thinks to bring a thermometer?

we do not select hotels based on amenities since we use the room only to sleep, shower and change for supper. all it needs to be is clean and well located. so basically we're driving a ford escort here.

anyone who knows me at all could predict the inevitable: by the following mid day after a feverish sleep, i'm climbing the walls. the only book my wife brought was something by someone named stuart woods who makes john grisham look like tolstoi. i'm on my twentieth repeat of the BBC world report and compounding my misery is a hacking cough which miraculously kicks in the exact moment i think i'm tired enough to nap much less sleep.

the fever breaks that night and i figure i'm about 18 hours past due to get out of that room even if i am still pretty congested. i shower and dress for the -1 c. weather outside resolved against the more reasonable advice of my wife not to spend another minute in the hotel room.

well, all this defiance lasts about the four minutes it takes to get to the platform of the local metro stop by which time i'm huffing and puffing trying to get some air into my lungs. i realise with a certain desperation that i'm not going anywhere and that, in fact, if i'm this winded going DOWN stairs, how am i going to get back to the hotel. i'm serious here: it was grim. you can't walk if you can't breathe.

i make it back to the hotel having to stop once in the roughly 60m it is from the metro. by this time i'm having a full blown anxiety attack not really sure whether i can't breathe because i'm anxious or i'm anxious because i can't breathe. i tell the deskman to call for a doctor and rather glumly resign myself to a ruined trip and the likely need to return home early.

my first house call physician since i was about 7 years old turned out to be a productive visit beyond my expectation. a member of SOS PHYSICIENS, the doctor was a young fellow with an amazing bag of tricks. he stated that i was VERY congested and was surprised i'd made it as far as the metro.

he also mentioned that my smoking was not helping, not in the sing song lockstep diatribe of my local physician who almost seems to threaten to withold treatment if he is not obeyed, but rather as an incidental to getting on with the issue at hand. he gave me a shot, two prescriptions and an inhaler. by the time he was finished the cortisone shot was already working.

the visit was 80 euro well spent and, with the scripts filled, in a couple of hours i was able to walk down to the local cafe and later to eat at a local spot. i had to cancel our reservation at violon d'ingres but fortunately was able to reshedule it for two nights later. by that time i was almost normal.

i learned a wealth of knowledge from this little episode both about myself and travel. primary of these is not to fear the possibility of falling ill while overseas. altho it's an unpleasant experience, very competent help and effective remedies are available. the US doesn't not hold a monopoly on medical skills and in fact the drugs i was prescribed in paris were frankly more effective than those by my physician upon our return.

on the personal level, i will in future be better prepared for this possibility by bringing zpak or whatever, not pressing myself beyond what i'm physically capable and i'm sure as hell going to bring my own book (just in case).
subcon is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 08:35 AM
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subcon, sorry to here you had such a terrible time of it. Your story reminds me again that good health is a very precious commodity.
degas is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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Thank goodness! A happy ending!
I hope you have reservations made soon to go back and do it all again, minus the illness.
Thank goodness for young SOS doctors !

Stay well~
Scarlett is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 09:24 AM
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Don't be so sure cold weather has NOTHING to do with common colds. Mothers often know more than they're given credit for:
http://www.norwichunion.com/health/h...91&c=430016205
BTilke is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 09:26 AM
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subcon,

That doctor came from SOS Médecins, not Physiciens... otherwise he would have been a Physicist ;-)

Glad to hear all worked out - had a very similar experience last September in Rome (complete with "miracle doctor" who prescribed antibiotics as well as an anti-inflammatory so powerful I could have probably broken a leg and not noticed), thank god I was staying in a nice hotel (had even been upgraded to a suite) and they had the local equivalent of HBO on TV! Still, being sick while on vacation in the middle of one of the world's great cities was a major drag.

Andre
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Jan 8th, 2006, 10:00 AM
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Getting sick on your trip with a cold is pretty bad. But thank goodness it was not the flu.
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