I will never forget the first time I came down with the flu in Italy. Tucked snuggly under the covers, the family I was living with was of course, concerned. I was expecting to be plied full of orange-flavored St. Giovanni's aspirin, or cherry flavored syrups of some sort. Fresh-squeezed orange juice flowing from the blender, and maybe a shot of zucchero to make the medicine go down.
Instead, when the doctor showed up and told me to turn over, I assumed it was so he could check my back with the stethoscope. But before I could say "Ammazza!" I was given an injection with a very large needle right in my behind. I fully thought I would fall soundly asleep -- fully sedated -- only to wake up later in a cage at the Milan zoo. To this day, the slightest sniffle brings on those visions, and any of you who remember the Milan zoo will know what a nightmare that truly is.
Getting sick in Italy usually means picking up a package of tissues from your local street vendor and a huge box of syringes from your pharmacist. Naturally, having read far too many articles on syringes causing AIDS, or syringe swaps in needle parks and the like, I simply cannot bring myself to buy a box of needles without feeling like my next stop is skid row. The idea of bringing them home, preparing the liquid concoction to go inside, and giving myself a quick shot in the butt, thigh, or any other part of my anatomy for that matter is enough to shock my system 'scared straight' to good health.
In order to make absolutely sure that I don't succumb to the local customs, I import my favorite fruit-flavored liquids each and every flu season.
The worst part is, I wouldn't even need these, really...but I'd have to get a flu shot first.