Okay! I succumb. After days of denial, I must face the truth that I’ve caught a cold.
I just don’t get sick. Usually I can navigate through weeks of sickness, with people dropping like flies all around me, and I remain fine. Sure, I take the usual precautions like washing my hands frequently, taking Echinacea and huge doses of vitamin C to at least satisfy my mind that I am doing something to protect myself from all the sickies around me.
I’m not sure what happened this time. Maybe it was the sugar I consumed last week. I’ve worked hard to eliminate sugar from my diet, but I was at a wedding last weekend, and … well … there was chocolate fondue for dessert. I could have simply chosen the fruit, but no, that wasn’t enough. When I saw that huge bowl of molten chocolate, I knew what I had to do. I brought my coffee cup up to the buffet table, and filled it with that yummy liquid dark chocolate, and much to the surprise of those at my table, proceeded to drink it.
Well, no matter what the cause, the result is that I have joined the ranks of the sickies, and am arming myself like a sicky, with my pants pockets bulging with paper towels to help absorb the interminable nose drip, and a crushed, damp white flag held tightly in hand prepared to surrender to the inevitable big sneeze explosion.
For me, the worst part of a cold is the cough. I don’t seem capable of doing those nice little polite coughs that no one really notices. Oh no. My coughs are like gun shots – loud and frequent. The more I try not to cough, the more I cough. And usually when I lie down, the cough gets much worse, which means that nobody gets any sleep.
So yesterday afternoon, I found myself in a pharmacy trying to choose a cough suppressant in the hopes that we might get some sleep that night. The irony is that I’ve been trying for well over a year to reduce the colourings, flavourings, preservatives, hormones and drugs I consume by eating organic food, putting a filter on the tap to take out chlorine and other contaminants, etc. and here I was eagerly looking to purchase a bottle of chemical soup filled with all the stuff I’ve been trying to cut out. But if it stops my coughing so I can sleep, I’ll take it. Amazing how primal the shift in focus is. When breathing and sleeping might be compromised, I am suddenly okay with blue and red colouring, hydrogenated oil, saccharin and whatever else these unpronounceable and probably very unhealthy ingredients might be.
Last night, like a good sicky, I took my dose of chemical soup and went to bed. As soon as I lay down, the coughing started in earnest. My ribcage was bouncing off the bed so high I was giving myself whiplash. My lungs felt like they were on fire. I could feel the sizzle of the red hot embers on the tips of each branch of the bronchial tree. Each cough would ignite the embers brighter. I kept trying to imagine waves of water dousing the flames, but that did not seem to work. And the ruckus! I’m surprised we did not get a call from the neighbours.
Finally after an hour or two of continual coughing, my partner came in and found me propped up in a semi seated position, sleep mask on, but quite awake. He handed me a mug and told me to drink. I felt a burning as the liquid touched my throat, but instantly the urge to cough died. I couldn’t believe it. Bourbon, grated ginger and a little water was the formula. Fight fire with fire. I slept for about three hours until the coughing started to overtake me again; I drank some more of the fire liquid and slept through until morning.
I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. I can’t say I would advocate Bourbon as a healthy cough remedy. That said, I’ll be tossing the chemical-soup cough syrup, and relying on Bourbon to get me through the worst of this cough. I figure being a slightly drunk and cough-free sicky is better than being a sober and coughing sicky. It’s going to be a fun weekend.