Thursday, September 30, 2010

How do you spell the sound of a nose blow?

Because that's the soundtrack of my life this week.  Gah.  But it did lead me to remember a story I haven't told you yet, so I guess it's not all bad.
Back in the olden days - 1998 and 1999 - Jason and I lived in Japan, and it seemed like every time we would come back to the US for business or the holidays, one or the other of us would get sick.  I managed to get spectacularly ill one Christmas with a simple cold that went horribly, horribly awry.  There was mucous flying everywhere, I used up more than a full box of tissues in a day, and I was fairly certain that I was either going to dry up into a husk or flip myself inside out while honking away into a Puffs Plus.  I was absolutely miserable - couldn't sleep, couldn't concentrate to read, couldn't do anything other than blow my nose and whine.  We were staying at my parents' house, and things were bad enough that I went to the walk-in clinic to see if they could do anything to stop the Niagara Falls of Snot streaming out of my head.  They gave me some version of Claritin to dry me up, told me to buck up, and sent me home.

Now, I don't know if you've ever actually read the list of side effects on a box of cold medicine, but in addition to the normal "drowsiness" there is also something they describe as "restlessness" or "sleeplessness."  I had never had any problem with cold medicine side effects before, but for some reason, whichever version of Claritin I took had some serious issues with my system.  I got the "restlessness" and "sleeplessness" in spades, on top of an already-mostly-sleepless body that was partly dehydrated and miserable to begin with.  I wasn't able to sit still - it's like I was on crack and meth and Red Bull, simultaneously.  If this had happened today I'd just buckle down and knit an entire sweater that night, but this was 1998 or 1999, and I didn't travel with crafts back then.  Instead, I just laid on the couch and vibrated like a tuning fork.  I couldn't even close my eyes for more than a few seconds, much less sleep.

My parents, needless to say, were somewhat concerned about this development.  My mother became convinced that I was going to "spike a fever and go into convulsions" if someone didn't stay up with me (trufax! this is how her mind works!), so my father got drafted into Sit With Gretchen Duty.  All.  Night.  Long.

Did you know that the only thing on cable at 2am between Christmas and New Years in 1998 or 1999 was The Rocky Horror Picture Show?  Which I had to watch for the first time with my father ... while strung out on cold medicine ... with no sleep for the past two days?  Ever try to explain Tim Curry in a leather bustier and thigh-highs to your dad while trying to make sure you were actually seeing it yourself, not just hallucinating it?

Good times, Dad, good times.  Have you gotten "Let's Do the Time Warp Again" out of your head yet?

I'm reminded of this because, until recently, I was unable to take any cold medicine at all because it would give me the same sleeplessness, no matter what time I took the pills.  I could take Nyquil at 8am and vibrate until 8am the next morning.  The effect had worn off somewhat in the past year or so, and I was just getting to the point where I didn't fear for my sanity every time I cracked open a blister pack of pills ... and then I took some DayQuil yesterday morning and paid for it all last night.  I am now intimately familiar with every detail of every wall and ceiling in my bedroom, and I think I've managed to solve both world peace and the energy crisis all at once (if I could just find the slip of paper I wrote it down on).  I also had a sort of lucid dream where I discovered that a mixture of vodka and cranberry juice was perfect for getting out the mildew stains around my bathtub - or at least making it so I didn't care about them anymore.

On the positive side of things, this time I wasn't craftless, so I now only have about 6" of the yoke left on a sweater I'm making for myself.  Can't feel my fingers or my forearms thanks to the carpal tunnel action, but at least my lifeless hands and arms will be warm when I'm done.




mlf said...

From the New York Times:
Controlled studies have shown that you can reduce your chance of catching "the cold" by 40% through the simple process of gargling with salt water.

And, for what it was worth, I too would always get sick during school break. You could count on me being sick during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Breaks. Thankfully I could sleep and could miss the joys of the Picture Show.

mlf said...

Today's New York Times indicates that runny noses an immune over reaction and note the fault of the virus. Thus, boosting your immune response will only make your cold feel worse.