Monday, May 23, 2016

Summer in the City - Flu Season in Mumbai

So this is going to be one of the less cheerful posts – probably the least cheerful since arriving in Mumbai as I have discovered one of the low lights of life in India (n summer). Being ill…

Being ill sucks wherever you are but as it turns out it sucks a lot more in 35 degrees than it does in European flu season. Before I give you the low down on what it has been like I do want to say that despite it not being fun, we are obviously very spoilt with being able to receive excellent medical here which so many people do not have access to. My workplace even has a doctor on site that you can just go to when you do not feel well.

Here is being ill – London vs Mumbai

1)      Starting to feel ill
a.       London: Go to Boots and stock up on non-prescription items like Ibuprofen and Lemsip. You probably can’t face the idea of trying to get a doctor’s appointment so let’s just hope it gets better
b.      Mumbai: You can go to the doctor (without appointment) and they are likely going to see you very quickly and happily prescribe you all sorts of medicine, however not Ibuprofen as there seems to be a general conception that it’s not good for you in India. So Paracetamol it is. In the end it doesn’t make much difference whether you have a prescription from the doctor as pharmacies pretty much hand you out anything with a bit of asking. Indiadam already managed to get some antibiotics for me once without prescription or looking ill in any form
2)      Get some rest
a.       London: You go to bed, get under the duvet and sleep. Sleep a lot or at least lying in bed or on the couch to recover and gather some strength again is really your best bet. Plus it’s quite nice lying in bed in winter when it’s cold and dark outside. Being ill could be worse
b.      Mumbai: Yes it could be. It could be 35 degrees and even walking outside for 10minutes leaves you looking like you have gone for a swim. Cooling down the whole flat takes quite a while and with our helicopter-sound-AC it is the trade off between sweating and severe headache. Mumbai has taught me one thing: there is no such thing as “sweating out a fever” – it only gets worse
3)      Get some fresh air
a.       After staying in your flat all day, something that used to really help me was go out and at least to the shops or around the block for 10mins, breathe in some fresh air
b.      Fresh air… Mumbai… Not happening. Apart from the fact that it’s too hot anyway. So we are back to the tradeoff of hot “clean” air with open windows or “cold, articificial, LOUD” air from the AC.
4)      Food & Drinks
a.       London: Lots of tea (nice to warm you up), chicken soup (warming and healthy) and fruit (vitamins)
b.      Mumbai: One tea (it’s so hot it doesn’t even steam, last thing you want to drink), water (about 5l to compensate for the sweat loss), chicken soup (just feel weird eating soup when all you want to do is jump in an ice bath), FRUIT – very nice, lots of choice!
5)      Not getting better
a.       London: Although you don’t want to, you end up having to go to the doctor. Your local GP has an appointment in 5 weeks time so you decide to go to the walk up clinic where you wait for 2h. In that time you manage to pick up the one virus you didn’t have yet, see the doctor who advises you against taking antibiotics and suggest that ibuprofen and lots of fluids will sort you out
b.      Mumbai: Back to the doctor with no wait time who will offer another dosage of antibiotics as well as a long list of other stuff (on a piece of paper, pretty sure I could write that at home)
6)      Picking up medicine
a.       London: In Boots, handed over my prescription: Please wait for 15mins (what for exactly?!), your prescription put on a massive pile. 15mins later, get your prescription in a nice bag, sealed, pills counted, pay your 7 pounds. Out you go
b.      Mumbai: Any pharmacy with your piece of paper and a long list of medicine. No waiting time, get as many pills you want and best thing: Keep the original prescription (no signature, stamp or anything). You might have the same thing in a few months so just re-use it. Or your neighbor might be ill…

Over a week after first getting ill, I’m still coughing a bit but luckily feel much better. And as said before, we are incredible fortunate to have access to the very good medical care in India that most people don’t.

However, I really did not enjoy being ill in Mumbai summer one single bit so will do everything I can to avoid it going forward. Considering I am a bit of a wimp with the heat and AC combination though, it probably won’t take long until I write the next grumpy/ill post.

Until then, Hals & Beinbruch (look that ones up)

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