A-Sick – Abroad

When you move to another country where you don’t speak the language, you expect things to be challenging.  But I think that there are scientific studies that estimate that the odds of your expectations equaling reality is precisely 5,392,487 to 1.

When we moved to Geneva in 1997, we, like all other expats, knew that there would be culture shock.  We didn’t speak the language.  We didn’t know our way around.  We were babes in the woods and there were wild boar in them thar hills.  Oh, and in those woods.

In fact, we hadn’t been in Switzerland long before John came down with a cold.  NBD, right?  Off to the pharmacy we went.

But of course, we couldn’t speak the language, which made it a bit of a challenge.

Nevertheless, I took my responsibility as family french speaker seriously.  I went to the pharmacy with my husband with my English-French/French-English dictionary in hand.

My husband has a cold (mon mari a un rhume).  He has a stuffy nose (il a un nez bouché).
Sadly, my french was not really good. And I learned again that day that if you are foolish enough to speak to a french speaker in French, the asshole will respond to you in french!  WTF??????  Why do they DO that?

Anyway, in pidgeon french, I told the pharmacist that we wanted a decongestant.  And really, it didn’t seem like such a big deal.

“Vous avez besoin d’un lavage de nez,” said the pharmacist.

John and I looked at each other.

“She’s recommending a nose washer,” I said.  “I guess that makes sense.  I guess a decongestant will “wash you nose.”

We were handed a box and the pharmacist allowed us to open it to look at the instructions.  The illustrated instructions.  Color illustrations. of a man leaning over the sink with a ‘lavage de nez’ in one nostril and a stream of green snot pouring out of the other.

Lavage de nez 1

I am not just using this picture because my husband is a big baby when he gets sick.  Really.  Google Image


Upon our return to the US, we learned that netti pots had become popular remedies for stuffy noses.


They also spread infection because they are difficult to clean.  And then there is the goo that goes into the sink….


Tonight while spending money I don’t have on gifts for folks, I saw a commercial for a Navage.

So I needed to share my story.  Because that’s what we bloggers do.



I just felt it necessary to prove that I don’t only think about poop when I think about weird medical treatments.

But of course, everything I discuss would interest any 12 year old.  Like me.

You’re welcome.




Filed under 'Merica, ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, Adult Traumas, Advice from an Expert Patient, All The News You Need, Bat-shit crazy, Conspicuous consumption, Disgustology, Europe, Family, Geneva Stories, Gross, Health, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Huh?, Humor, keys to success, laughter, My husband is lazy and wants me to do all the work, Oh shit, Out of the Pot

56 responses to “A-Sick – Abroad

  1. cortney

    Ugh. Cannot watch the video, cannot use a netti pot. My dad was one of the infection victims and landed himself in the hospital. I’m glad something worse than a stuffy nose didn’t befall your husband in Geneva!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t need to see the video. I’ve witnessed my husband using one many times. I used it once and that was enough for me. It really is gross. Not to mention dirty. I’ve heard you need to use only distilled water or amoebas will eat your brain. Sure you could die using one, but at least your stuffiness would be gone, right?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. In the grand scheme of things, that is right up there on the disgusting meter. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I recently heard about the Navage as well… defined as “nasty” and “savage” just so you know…! I can so relate to this post at the moment since I am just getting over a nasty sinus infection – have had lots of nose draining aids on hand… never used a Neti Pot, but I do know some people swear by them. You can’t beat Mucinex to get things started in there in my opinion – kind of like a laxative for your nasal passages! lol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha!! The man on the ad is so happy about it. I used netti pots for a little but then I heard that people have gotten meningitis and being that I’m a hypochondriac I can’t use it anymore. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. BTW, Google has an app for that. No, not snot, it’s called Translate and the thing seems to be almost miraculous. It not only translates to English every written language from Afrikaans to Zulu (also French), but now even spoken other language to spoken language (aural). I haven’t tried the latter function yet due to the dearth of bi-lingual people around here, but I have faith in Google.

    French for snot is morve, or alternatively, morveux. Qui savait?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah yes, that special Google “snot” app. Who wouldn’t fork out 99 cents for that one!?

      Actually, this story took place in ancient history — pre-Google! I think the folks who move over to Europe without knowing the language have a leg up on me. We had to wing it!

      I am a Google devotee. I can honestly say that Google made my career possible. I was a trailing spouse in Geneva — and I took a job as a secretary at WHO. I was one of the first to learn of Google, and I was always able to find out information faster and more thorough than anyone else. They thought I was brilliant. I did eventually divulge its existence, but not until my brilliance was cemented.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think I’d prefer a pill for that!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lol, Elyse. On our school’s FB page a newcomer just asked what she should stock up on before she comes. About 30 of us said, “OTC medicines you know, trust and can read the instructions for!!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I never once thought about the pot spreading germs. Since I could never stomach cleaning that thing, now I know I would need a case of them to get through a cold. Once again your medical advice is stellar!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I used a Neti pot a few times this year. It’s a really weird sensation

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My daughter just had a baby. Despite the hand sanitizer at approximately 2-foot intervals throughout her flat, the baby got the sniffles. What’s a modern infant to do? Apparently turn to the Snotsucker–a name I TOTALLY did not make up. And the reason for that name? I can only tell you this, Elise, because a woman who can discuss poop transplants can handle anything. Even an apparatus that basically involves Mom and a straw and…well, snotsucking. Personally, I had to leave the room.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. When I went to Geneva, I needed some painkillers for a headache. Without thinking about the language thing, I went into the pharmacy and tried to explain what I wanted. The girl behind the counter let me flounder with my hand signals and what-I-could-remember French as I had no book, then in English asked if I wanted aspirin or paracetamol. Not that I travel now, but I always carry painkillers for me and Hubby in my handbag!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most pharmacists in the area do speak English which was a godsend. We quickly learned where they worked. But given that my health got wonky after we got back to the US, I’m glad we didn’t stay in Switzerland. I’m pretty sure the hilarious stories I’d have trying to explain my poop problems would have come at a high price. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Yuckity yuck yuck! I was terrified to watch that video, but I did anyway! When I did a blog post about translations a while back, a commenter told me a funny story – a friend of hers was going to Germany to try and trace some people who he thought he might be related to. He couldn’t speak any German, but she could, so she wrote out some phrases for him say when he found the people. Unfortunately she wasn’t as good at German as she thought, it was all a bit wrong, and when he found the family he was met with bemused looks as he stood there reading out phrases like “I believe that families exist.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well, beneficial or disgusting…I don’t think nose excreta is anywhere near as bad as calling a Caribinieri officer a cuckold. In an Italian town. Where not much English is spoken.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Not watching the video. Nose stuff grosses me out. But I’ll take your word for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My youngest daughter had a similar language experience when she went to Germany for her junior year of college. She thought she knew German pretty well, but she went to Eichstaadt, which is close to Bavaria and where people spoke a slightly different dialect (kind of like the different between Brooklyn, the Bronx, and the rest of New York).. My daughter got a cold and needed some OTC medicine. She went to the nearest pharmacy, and struggled through a conversation with the pharmacist. Eventually she got something like Benadryl.

    Once back home again, she discovered the Neti Pot. Now she swears by it and tells the rest of us we should try it. Not me. I remember getting water up my nose while swimming as a child – no way would I do that voluntarily!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Intellectually, I get it. It washes then nose. But it just seems so gross. especially when introduced to the concept with a color illustration of an endless stream of snot coming out of a man’s nose. Ewwwwwwwwww.

      Also, after my two GI surgeries, I had to have a tube in my (tiny) nose that kept stomach bile from eating my stomach. Let me just say that it is not a fond recollection. So I’m with you. Nothin’s going in this nose — except, perhaps, a finger … sorry couldn’t resist. Because I really am 12.


  17. Glazed

    See, I told you I’d be keeping my eye on you, you disgusting blogger, you. And I’ll keep my nose in your business also. Just a moment, I have to go puke. Okay, there. Did you know that the use of neti pots is part of the practice of Hatha Yoga? Along with physical benefits, there are spiritual benefits. Apparently, you can’t go to heaven with a nose full of snot.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Lol…reading his response en francaise…i was thinking ewww…cuz i knew what he was saying. Poor you and John.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The Neti Pot has indeed made a comeback. For some people, it really helps open things up. But yeah, gotta keep the thing clean.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Linda Medrano


    Liked by 1 person

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