Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Italian cervicale and other diseases

Please meet my 2 lovely and faithful weekend companions

At the beginning of the month, I stumbled across this article on the BBC
The author, Dany Mitzman, has been living in Italy for quite some time and she describes bow how Italians are affected by a number of winter illnesses, probably due to our in-depth knowledge of human anatomy.
She states:

"Many Italians, it seems, are prone to a particularly wide range of winter illnesses, helped apparently by an in-depth knowledge of human anatomy.

"Soffro di cervicale (I suffer from cervicale)," they tell me, making it sound particularly serious.
Most people over the age of 30 seem to have the condition, but I am still at a loss as to what exactly it is and how to translate it.
I have looked it up in the dictionary and found "cervical" - an adjective referring to the cervical vertebrae, those little bones in the back of your neck - but as an ailment, there is simply no English translation. We do not have it!
The British also do not seem to have the sort of exceptional knowledge of their own anatomy which Italians have."
By reading it, the general idea coming out of the article is: if you're Italian, you're hypochondriac, yet sick. If you're British, you're ignorant, yet healthy... as healthy as the rich-in-fat diet and the inclination of many to binge-drinking allow you to be, ça va sans dire...

Another thing the author is puzzled about is the "change of season"... ah you see, Brits can't be affected by it, as there are no seasons on the Isles, there are also no changes. There might be changes in the weather day by day, but nothing that forces you to swap your whole wardrobe entirely. The change of season brings colds and "colpi d'aria", but not only that, it brings other changes as well.
English have the "changing of the Guard", Italians the "cambio del guardaroba", changing of the wardrobe: in spring you put away the winter jacket, wool cardigans, gloves and scarves and take out the cotton dresses, sandals and shorts.

I'm not sure whether the English are less sensitive to such disease because, as suggested by the article, their ignorance protect them better than some vaccination. Or maybe, more likely, they are sick and they don't realize they are. It happens here in the Netherlands too. I often see people waiting for the bus in the morning with their hair wet: they don't dry the hair and don't cover them in any way, no matter that we are not exactly at the Tropics.

If I were ever to do something like that, I'd have to call in sick for at least 2 weeks, after having developed pneumonia. 
They don't, but when they sniffle I can hear them, even if I'm sitting on the opposite end of the bus and I'm listening to the Frames full volume.

Two days ago, there was a guy sitting next to me, sniffling and coughing like a modern Mimì . At the beginning, judging by the red eyes, I thought he was crying. I didn't dare looking at him again, but that one single look was enough to send my brain in a imagination overdrive: what happened? What tragedy fell upon him? Who broke his heart?
I was about to put all the pieces together when... SNIIIIIIIIF
Yuck! no, he wasn't sad, he was sick and apparently unable to blown his own nose.
He kept sniffling louder and louder. 
Double yuck! That's gross and disgusting, even my nephew in his worse days can reach such level of... oh yuck to the nth degree!
I just took a pack of tissue paper out of the bag and pass it to him.
"Here, you seem to need them."
His reply? "No, thanks, I'm fine."

So was he really fine? Or wouldn't it be better for him to be able to understand what the symptoms of a common cold are???

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