Kids are gross*. They sneeze without turning their heads, think handwashing is optional and will cough in your face if they get the inclination. So it goes without saying that, as an au pair, being in such close contact with these germy beasts will lead to many illnesses and ailments. I’ve had my fair share:
- Various colds
- A stomach bug
- One bad sinus infection
- Strep throat (tonsilitis)
I was sick for the whole month of January with multiple colds that lead into the sinus infection. I was greeted with “are you really still sick??” by the host dad almost every time he saw me or heard me cough.
I have found the key to getting better and handling working with the kids when sick has been to be honest and open with my host mom. Every time I explained that I wasn’t feeling well she encouraged taking time to rest and has even given me multiple days off when necessary. It’s important to tell your host parents that you are feeling unwell not only for your sake but for the kids as well, though I maintain that all of the bugs I have gotten have been from them (like the time they gave me literal bugs in the form of head lice. Ah what a glamorous job I have).
Being sick so many times has taught me about the differences in healthcare here in the UK and about the medications they use. They don’t even have advil here.
Some things I made a note of in my time as a self-pitying invalid:
Registering with a doctor is easier than you expect, but don’t wait until the last minute.
I wish I had registered with a doctor straight away when I got here, as it would have saved me two very painful and long trips to walk in clinics. All I needed to do was find a local GP/Surgery, show up with my passport and I was registered within an hour. One follow up with a nurse asking the dreaded “How often do you get physical exercise?” and “Do you ever consume more than 5 units of alcohol in a night?” questions later, and I was free to call up my doctor whenever I needed.
Unless your employer pays for your medication or you are a full time student, prescription drugs are expensive.
I have had to get them twice in my time here and each time the cost has been close to 20 quid. When you add the cost of the other medication you need like ibuprofen or cough syrup you really are entering a depressing state for your wallet. Although in my month of being sick I probably saved loads of money strictly based on the fact that I couldn’t go out and do anything.
The only times I severely missed home was when I was sick
No matter how kind your host family is or how many well wishes you get from friends, you are going to miss your mom. And your dad and your dog and cat and sister and that one pillow you have back in your bed at home that’s the perfect mix between soft and firm. Skype chats help, but really don’t compare to the comforts of home.
Drugs: do them
Shoutout to Night Nurse my main homie for the month of January 2016.
After writing all this I really need to knock on wood to ensure that I haven’t jinxed my current state of general healthy-ness. Hopefully I suffered enough with my strep throat a couple weeks ago and I won’t have another illness to write about anytime soon.
*Just because I call kids gross doesn’t mean I don’t like them. It’s just a fact.