Saturday, March 27, 2010

It’s the change of climate

There have been a lot of benefits in moving to Peru for me. One that I hadn’t thought about and didn’t expect was an overall improvement in my health. In the States my blood pressure/pulse wouldn’t go below 160/82/70 no matter what I did. My doctor suggested medication but I didn’t want to start that. If I didn’t take two allergy pills every morning every day of the year I was constantly congested and had sinus headaches. And about once a week I’d get a bomber of a headache that demanded four aspirins as its price for leaving. Since moving to Chiclayo my blood pressure/pulse has settled in at 128/70/62. I have no need for the allergy pills, and the handful of headaches I’ve had in the twenty months I’ve been here are minor - the two aspirin variety.

In spite of what seems to be a more tranquil body, I still have trouble sleeping so continue to take my 0.5mg clonazepam nightly, but even that has an upside. In the States I paid 50 cents per pill. Here most pharmacies charge 14 cents and some even less, which amounts to a savings of $130 over a year. Now, that’s not to say everything’s been perfect here health wise. I have had one bout with bronchitis requiring a doctor visit, and then there’s what I have come to call “Brian’s Disease.”

About every three months Brian will start sneezing and coughing, followed soon by a sore throat. It’s not severe enough to keep him out of school, but it is strong enough to pass on to me. I get the extra-strength version. For the next four days I spend a lot of time in a chair or in bed. I become a coughing, sneezing, mucous machine. If I do get out of bed I take a roll of toilet paper with me (Kleenex is too expensive here). I wonder if medical science has an explanation for how my sinus cavities can produce mucous faster than I can blow it out? Some days are two-roll days for me…well, maybe one and a half. And this happens every three months. Seriously. Maribel has charted it on our calendar. Maribel may or may not get Brian’s Disease, but if she does it’s usually a milder version.

To me it’s just a cold, though I don’t understand why it appears every three months. To Peruvians it’s something else. See, it’s not enough to just say you’ve got a cold. Peruvians have to assign the cause to every illness. The current catch-all is climate change. Sniffles? Climate change. Coughing up chunks of lung, and blood in your stool? Climate change. That guy over there hanging by his neck from a rope? Climate change, although in his case it may also have been drinking cold liquid, or standing in front of an open refrigerator – two other popular catch-alls. I don’t know…these beliefs are so pervasive maybe there’s something to them. Beyond Brian’s Disease there is one other annoyance.

Everybody knows Wisconsin gets cold in the winter, but in July and August it can get extremely hot and humid. But even at the exact same temperature and humidity, I swear there is another element here in Chiclayo during the summer months. It’s like an invisible membrane that coats the entire body. It feels clammy and sticky and feeds on the body’s energy. Sometimes I think it may be an alien life form, or perhaps the remnant of some Inca curse. A shower helps for about 30 seconds after which the ‘membrane returneth.’ If it is an ancient curse maybe I need to see a shaman for an exorcism first, and then take a shower. Perhaps I need a showercism. But then again, maybe it’s just climate change.



  1. ¨That guy over there hanging by his neck from a rope? Climate change, although in his case it may also have been drinking cold liquid, or standing in front of an open refrigerator¨

    It also could be that he walked barefeet on a floor, or ate too much ice cream. In any case, he is going to save a lot of money now, as he doesn´t need antibiotics nor panadol anymore.

  2. My Summer clothes don't fit anymore!... climate change! (or it could be because of the many ICE cubes I always add to my drinks!) :-)