La maladie imaginaire (ou pas)

The last time I was really sick – and I mean really sick – was in France where I had a turgid love affair with delicious kebab frites. I don’t get sick very often, but last week was the worst I’d felt since October of 2011 when I had un gastro for half a week. This time though it was my throat. My tonsils were swollen, red, and dotted with white. I had a headache that kept me bed-ridden and unable to think, eat, or sleep.

When I was sick in France, I discovered a startling cultural difference. My host mother asked me if I wanted my temperature taken. I knew that I had a fever, but I humored her – come to find out, they don’t take temperature in France like we do in the United States! Apparently there is a place better than under the tongue or the arm pit to take your temperature. I will leave it to your imagination!

So as my sickness slipped away over the weekend, it moved all to my throat where a very surprising symptom appeared: the hiccups. In French, le hoquet. I am very prone to hiccups, I get them all the time, when I eat, drink, look the wrong way, any time! These, however, lasted all night… and when I woke up I had them, and they would go away from thirty minutes every now and then to come back with no warning. It sounded comical, but trust me – it was agony, torture not knowing how to make them go away, or how to keep them from coming back. I tried EVERYTHING: gargling water, holding my breath, chugging a bottle of water, chugging a bottle of water while holding my breath; and when I thought I had found a cure, they would come back!

By 11pm, I was to the point of crying when they had been gone for hours, only to reappear.

Finally, Tuesday morning they were gone for good. My chest hurt from hiccuping all day prior, and it left me with a few words of caution: don’t underestimate the hiccups! I read that in the worst case scenario, they could be caused by a tumor! So next time you see someone with hiccups, take pity on them! Ask them if they want to take their temperature and tell them not through the mouth. It just might scare their hiccups away!

P.S. I never learned my lesson from kebab frites, and I urge everyone to try le Meilleur Kebab de Bordeaux one day!

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