Wednesday, June 22, 2005

it's not the heat, it's the humidity

I've always been extremely sensitive to changes in the weather. Wetterfühlig, as the Germans call it. They like to have precise names for everything, you know. I looked all this up and apparently the kind of weather sensitivity I have is a disturbance of the vegetative nervous system which involves dizziness accompanied by slight nausea, the inability to concentrate and the feeling that your head is about to implode, and is totally different from the other kind where your bum knee or your old head wound start acting up when there's a storm front nearby. That's called Wetterempfindlichkeit. Go figure. It's all very complicated.

We live in Northern Germany so we've been spared the Southern German Föhn, a warm dry wind similar to a Chinook, which can raise temperatures as much as 30°C within a few hours and has occasionally resulted in people going nuts and killing each other, I've been told. Thank goodness for small mercies.

But still, one of the things I haven't managed to get used to after all these years is the humidity where we live. If you're weather sensitive, the humidity can do you in if you're not careful. We've had a few days of lovely weather and I felt all right, but yesterday turned out to be so awfully humid that I thought I was going to tip over right then and there. You go outside and the sweat just starts dripping off you (well, off me, anyway) because there's no place for it to evaporate to. The temperature feels much warmer than it really is. Wonderful.

So the thunderstorm in my head on days like yesterday invariably leads up to a real thunderstorm, since that's usually what happens here after a few days of heat and humidity. According to the weather forecast, we're in for a storm some time today and I'm looking forward to it, I tell you.

Anyway, the whole point of this entry (what? there's a point to all this?) is that my head almost imploding made me start thinking about an article I read a few years ago about conditions specific to certain countries. I wish I could remember more details about it because it was fascinating. I'll recount as much as I can recall, but please don't quote me on any of it.

In Germany, a lot of ailments seem to focus on the Kreislauf - the circulation system. If you're feeling poorly, you're probably having a Kreislaufkollaps - a collapse of your circulatory system, and your doctor will be able to fix you up with any number of pills and potions to remedy this condition. I've noticed Germans also seem to have a thing about their veins (again with the Kreislauf, I guess). Tons of ads in magazines and on TV about stuff you can smear on your legs to counteract all those years of sitting with your legs crossed.

Living en France and feeling lousy? Well, your liver is the root of all evil.

Off your feed in England? It's because you're not getting enough roughage, of course!

And America's claim to fame is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Who would have guessed?

I'm sure they talked about other countries as well, but my memory fails me.

Another condition I'd never come across until I moved to Germany is the Hörsturz, a kind of a mini-stroke in the inner ear where the blood supply is cut off, causing sudden hearing loss, dizziness etc. It's a very serious and alarming thing and you hear all the time about people getting it. It's happened to a couple of Mr. M's work colleagues as well as to a woman who lives in our street. Strange, because my English friend F had never heard of it either back in Old Blighty.

But enough talk about country-specific illnesses for the moment. I need to wrap this up and go grocery shopping. Hope I can make it the whole way without my Kreislauf giving out. Ha ha.

Here's another garden picture I found this morning. It's from last year but things haven't changed much. I like to sit in the swing to read or just daydream.


At June 22, 2005 3:10 p.m., Blogger jen said...

omg, that Kreislauf had me lauffing for days when I heard about it. I thought it was an way to take time off work. Let's just say, my laughter and witty remarks did nothing for german-american relations.

It seems to me that there are all sorts of undiagnosed ailments that fall under Kreislauf.

If germany had A/C, Wetterempfindlichkeit would be a thing of the past.

At June 23, 2005 3:40 a.m., Blogger Michele said...

I love the garden swing. I do wonder what condition is unique to Canadians, because it is always nice to have something to blame on my own country.

At June 23, 2005 9:00 a.m., Blogger christina said...

There must be someting uniquely Canadian out there - beer elbow, maybe? I'll have to do further research.

At June 23, 2005 10:36 a.m., Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Yeah, I noticed the thing about Germans with their Kreislauf. My bf always complaining on things like: 'Och, mir isses übel...ich glaube, mein Kreislauf kollabiert gleich!' I mean, come on, it takes a lot more than that to get your circulating system to collapse.

When I was living in New Zealand, I was also pretty much Wetterfühlig. Everybody would avoid me when a weather storm was brewing, because that meant I would be extremely snappy. But eversince I'm in Germany, the weather doesn't affect me that much...although I can get pretty...well, crappy when there's Föhn...and a headache at that.

At June 25, 2005 10:26 p.m., Blogger Jodie said...

I'll bet it's all linked to deydration sonehow ;)


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