Tue, 22 Jan 2013 10:41 UTC
Tue, 22 Jan 2013 10:41 UTC
Snow covers the country like a duvet, muffling all sound so that no one hears me swear when I lose all sensation in my fingers, drop my keys in a two-foot drift and spend half an hour digging for them.
The following morning I have sand running through my veins and drumming monkeys in my head.
"Must. Find. Lemsip," I moan as I rifle through the last of our boxes to be unpacked from the UK. Locating the yellow and green packet, I give it a shake. Empty.
"Oh, I think I used the last one," a voice shouts from the shower, "sorry!"
I turn on the hot tap for a few seconds until I hear shrieking sounds, then swaddle up to go in search of medicine.
The Danglish (Danish/English) speaking assistant in my local supermarket says she can't help.
"No medicine here, only these," she says, proffering a packet of what look like mint humbugs.
"What are they?"
"Sick sweets," she tells me.
I take them anyway and experience a tingling feeling in my mouth before it goes completely numb. My throat, head and body still ache but for an hour, I can't even moan about it.
Once I can feel my face again, I head to a chemist.
A kindly looking woman in square black Scandi-issue glasses nods sympathetically when I describe my symptoms.
"So do you sell Ibuprofen?"
She shakes her head.
She smiles and places a tiny packet on the counter, just enough to soothe the temperature of a smallish hamster.
"Can I buy more?"
"Should I see a doctor?"
"The doctor will tell you to drink hot tea and get hygge with candles."
My doctor will prescribe cosiness and tea lights? Trying not to cry, I leave.
It's snowing so hard outside that it feels like someone's throwing pins at my face. I hear the crunch of moon boots on grit behind me and a girl's voice calls out.
"Are you English?"
"Thought so." Her accent isn't Danish but I can't place it. "You're new around here, right?"
"Are you looking for some," she lowers her voice: "Lemsip?"
I tell her I am and she beckons me over.
"I can get you Vapour Rub too if you're interested. And vitamin C and caffeine pills."
My new friend explains that she's German and heading over the border tomorrow to see family and stock up on winter medicines.
"I normally bring a few things back. Strepsils for the Brits. Fibre supplements and Pepto-Bismol for the Americans, that sort of thing."
Delighted to have stumbled into the Al Capone of cold and flu remedies, I tell her I'll take pretty much anything Beecham's has to offer.
"How much Vicks do you want? 100 grams?"
"Done. And maybe some Night Nurse."
"Good choice. That stuff's like crack round here."
She slips me a single Lemsip sachet that she keeps handy in her satchel for an instant hit and we agree to meet in three days' time.
"Stay warm and dry and I'll be back as soon as I can," my new dealer whispers conspiratorially as she disappears into the snow.
From my sickbed back at home, I discover that I'm not alone in my quest for cold and flu drugs in Denmark. The British Chamber of Commerce website recommends visitors stock up before coming over and there are whole forums dedicated to getting your hands on Hall's Soothers. Over-the-counter medicines are only sold in pharmacies here and the pickings are slim. You won't find medicine for migraines and for anything stronger than Panadol you'll need a doctor. The Danes are strict about what they put in their bodies and even food supplements are considered borderline medicines. Breakfast cereals with added vitamins were banned in 2004 and the year before last, Marmite was made illegal. Yes, that's right, yeast spread and Cheerios are contraband in Denmark. No wonder Lemsip's so counter revolutionary.
So now I wait, surrounded by candles and cups of ginger tea, until supplies arrive. And I'm not sharing my last Lemsip with anyone.