The weather has become decidedly cold and rainy, leaden skies and sheeting wind. Although I’m told that I can’t catch cold from abrupt temperature shifts, that’s always how I seem to get them. “Count back 3 days to find the source,” my mother always advised, and it always coincides with a change in the weather.
And this time I really got it.
I have small stash of reliable US cold meds for the rare occasions that I do catch something: Sucrets for the throat, Coricdin for cough and headache, Sudafed for the nose. Unfortunately, my front-line troops aren’t making a dent in the symptoms this time around.
I broached it with my doctor during my scheduled post-surgical appointment on Monday: he took a quick peep in the throat, a tap and a listen on the back, and pronounced it ‘nothing serious’.
“Are you serious?” I croaked, batting bleary eyes, and hoping for a magic elixir.
“Nose spray; throat spray, “ he commented, typing notes into the computer (Note to Obama: electronic health records seem to have arrived in the Netherlands)
Since I didn’t get a prescription, it must be something that can be obtained over-the-counter. So, off to Kruidvat.
I’m actually not sure what Kruidvat is supposed to be. It has health and beauty items, a few toys, some vitamins, a smattering of foods. I think of it as equivalent to a US RiteAid or Walgreens, but it seldom has even the basic health-care items that I’m looking for. I’m starting to think it might be a reincarnation of Woolworth’s, an ancient five-and-dime store.
In any case. I was advised to try a (something)-oth-eek.
Luck on my side, I spotted a Hypotheek across the street. Sadly, this turns out to be Dutch for a mortgage-broker. Nice people, helpful to a fault: they sent me to the Apotheek (pharmacy) around the corner.
In the Netherlands, pharmacists dispense prescription medicines as the do in the US. But they also are involved in selection of over-the counter meds. Rather than pick from an aisle of offerings, I go to their desk and explain the problem, they divine what could help.
“Nose drops?” She recommended a 10 ml bottle of xylometazoline spray. Not a clue what that is, but I took it home and gave each nostril a shot.
Wow… I was bone dry for the next 8 hours.
There’s an urban legend in the US that the FDA review process keeps us from getting the good stuff that is freely available to Europeans. This spray, Otrivin in the UK and Canada, might be one of them. Very impressive.
Still, I woke in the middle of the night with raw throat and cough. Back to the Apotheek. “Throat spray?” Kamillosan was the answer. Interesting: this is a chamomile extract, anti-inflammatory, all natural, not available in the US. ‘Worth a try.
This is the strongest throat spray I’ve ever experienced; impossible to inhale. Overwhelming menthol, a touch of anesthetic, very aromatic. It makes my eyes water. (Note to Obama: the nose remains Otrivin-shielded and doesn’t spring a drop).
The box reminds me to “Niet in de neus sprayen en niet in de omgeving van de ogen opbrengen,” Don’t spray it in the nose or get it around the eyes. I can only imagine the pain.
So, fortified with a new front-line arsenal, I‘m ready for a good night’s sleep, free at last from cold symptoms.
The last thought, falling asleep to the cooing pigeons outside, is a lingering concern that it might be bird allergy and not a cold at all….