I've had to take both children to the doctor this fall more often than usual, between routine checkups (the first year babies have a lot, plus K is about to have her 5-year visit) and assorted minor illnesses. Since we've now all had bronchitis (baby too) we've been a bit more careful with coughs and colds, since bronchitis is not fun. Over the weekend K was complaining of lower abdominal pain so I took her in Monday morning to make sure it wasn't an infection.
I am always a bit frustrated at the doctor's office because while I have a decent grasp of basic (regular person) medical Czech I can never remember the proper medical terms off the top of my head so I am never sure I've precisely described the problem in the way I would have in English. "I am a LEGAL translator," I always want to say, "I don't do medicine!" But I get the point across.
After feeling K's belly and taking a urine sample the pediatrician's main advice to me was to make sure she doesn't sit on a cold floor.
And that's where the cultural issues come into play.
Sitting on cold floor or concrete = infection is a very common piece of folk wisdom in this part of the world. I hadn't heard it before coming here, but I believe it may be somewhat of a tradition where I am from, too (anyone else heard of this?). I do not, however, believe that it is founded in evidence-based medicine. Unless it is and I just missed it, which is possible.
I don't mind the doctor telling me that, but it just serves as a reminder how deeply entrenched we all are in our own cultures (and generations - I think it depends on the age of the doctor as well as country of origin or medical training). I think medicine (causes of disease, treatments, germ theory, etc.) is probably the area in which I feel most foreign and most American, because I was just raised differently and it seems to be more deeply ingrained in me than, say, wearing shoes indoors or talking really loudly (two classic American behaviors).
There are a lot of other Czech medical beliefs that were new to me when I moved here. I can't remember them all off-hand, but a few include:
Drinking cold drinks gives you a sore throat. Iced drinks are basically just asking for it. I have been requested to put orange juice in the microwave to warm it up before serving. After it had been sitting on the counter for half an hour since I knew cold = bad.
Eating cherries and drinking water (together) will have you tied to the bathroom for the next several hours.
Combining certain types of food will have the same effect. The list seems to vary depending on who's talking.
When you have a cold you should wear a scarf around your neck. Because I guess your neck is cold? I'm not clear on the reasoning on this one.
Eating warm desserts will make you sick. The first time I brought my new husband cookies fresh from the oven (the preferred way to eat them in my country, or at least my family) he thought I was trying to poison him.
My mother-in-law does not allow fans or air conditioning to be blowing, even in the car in 40 C (very hot) weather, because they cause ear infections. Heat stroke, though, doesn't seem to concern her.
Walking around with an exposed lower back will give you a kidney infection.
Walking on a cold floor, or any floor, without sandals will make you sick.
When I moved to this country, I only knew "draft" (in the sense of cold air) from 19th-century novels. I had no idea it was a thing that people still talked/worried about, but it totally is.
And that's not even getting into the very specific ideas about raising children. I don't do dětský čaj or balení na široko (tea for babies and a special way of wrapping small babies to restrict their movement in order to prevent hip problems, more or less), which raises some eyebrows but my children seem to be managing without somehow.
I guess going to the doctor, when I can't get out of it entirely, may always be a reminder to me that I'm not in Kansas any more. On the other hand, a few months ago I woke up with a sore back after sleeping next to an open window, and my first thought was "...draft!"
So maybe I'll get on board with some of the above list someday, after all!