I know my current ailment is not as bad, or tragic as other peoples’, perhaps even people you know and love. I know this disease is not the worst I will ever suffer, assuming I live long enough. But all suffering is relative. This illness is worthy of note because of two significant factors: 1. It is happening to me. 2. It is happening now.
Some would call it a head cold. I won’t give it a name. A name, a label reduces the thing to something seemingly manageable.
It started last Saturday, I think. It started subtly, as a mere feeling of lethargy. Since it was a Saturday, a day I usually welcome and treasure lethargy anyhow I didn’t immediately notice. I only recall it as different now because my usual one to two hour weekend nap turned into a full blown three hour hardcore and deep snore-fest. From the time I awoke from that pseudo-coma, I felt even more tired than I usually do. Then came the sniffles, the congestion. Unending streams, nay, rivers of head fluids sloshing and banging against the back of my face. Every attempt to lessen it just angered it more.
“Could be sinuses” I told Angel. She shook her head at me. She didn’t show a lot of pity at the time. She explained her complete lack of love, sympathy and concern as merely payback. Apparently she had been suffering from a cold for over a week, I even sort of recalled her having mentioned it once, or maybe a dozen times, as if this were any excuse.
Sunday morning followed a fitful night. I originally assumed I had not slept well because of Saturday’s uber-nap. I awoke unrested, sniffling, a little wheezy, but mostly just tired. Not all that different from most other Sunday mornings.
I needed to make my weekly HBA run (Health and beauty aids) and I forced myself into the shower and into the car. Wal-Mart seemed like a mountain climb. My legs were heavy, my mind wandered, the simple chore took on the feel of heavy labor. My sniffles had accelerated. As I exited the store the sunshine hit my face, kicking off an ear popping, jaw–locking sneeze attack. My ribs ached form the onslaught. There were barely enough napkins and shop towels in the car to keep the blasts contained.
“Okay, this is it, the real thing” I announced to my car’s interior.
I arrived home, longing to crawl into bed to sleep it off, but realized I was in charge of the dogs in Angel’s absence. She was selfishly away at PetSmart trying to get some rescued dogs adopted.
I had two shifts of dogs to process. Our lot of four, and then the others, our newest acquisition Deedee (Deirdre) and her best friend Casper, one of the current batch of fosters. These two, like all new arrivals in our house are kept separate form the established pack for a good while to avoid mishaps and misunderstandings.
So out the basement door and into the rear fenced area went Casper and Deedee, and the ever-affable George. Bailey and Blue got the nearer fenced area, Myster got to go for a walk in the woods. Myster is my dog, and Angel left me in charge. I can’t be held responsible for her misjudgments.
I felt awful, but this was my responsibility. As the dogs ran, barked and played I retreated into the house and pretended to work on my computer. I had things to do with it, but the part of my brain responsible for solving computer problems was MIA.
I watched the clock, the dogs needed to stay out for at least an hour.
Finally I shorted them a few minutes and bribed them back into their crates. I plodded up the stairs, sipped a small glass of some stuff that helps me relax, and climbed into bed.
Another too-long, too heavy nap. Even after I got up I was still half involved in a vividly colorful but weak-plotted dream about squirrels, blimps and tuna sandwiches. I took Myster for another walk to try to snap out of it. I think I had something for dinner, Not that it mattered, at some point my taste buds abandoned their posts. Banana pudding, fish, chili, it was all the same. Frankly I’m real fuzzy about the subsequent eighteen or so hours. Let’s just say I went through the motions, Dinner, TV, sarcastic and brilliantly witty conversations with my family, some moreTV, then bedtime.
Monday morning was tough. I awoke feeling tired and unrested, sweaty, and my nose was sore yet runny. My mind wouldn’t focus. In other words a typical start to a typical workday. I showered, caught up on the weather and traffic and drove to work. Usually about halfway to work things clear up and I start to come alive. On this day, that was not happening. I got to work, settled into my chair, fired up my computer and started going through the paces of checking the dozens of systems we are responsible for. I was still not really fit for duty. I managed to make it through by popping Ibuprofen and snorting nasal spray, but it was noticeable to all around that something was amiss. Abby noticed and was sympathetic in her own coarse way “Dude you look awful, go home already!”
From Shaun: “Wow that sounds pretty bad what the h*!! are you doing here?” And so on.
I left at the very earliest second after my requisite eight hours, drove home slowly, nearly dozing off several times. I limped and thumped into the house, snorted, groaned and slumped into my chair. No one seem to notice. I snorted and sniffed, moaned louder. “Something wrong?” asked Angel. “You wouldn’t understand.” I replied, snorting and groaning more.
“Oh that’s right, you’ve got a cold” she replied with all the enthusiasm one would apply to finding a dust bunny under the bed.
“You call it a cold, you are most likely understating it.” I snapped back.
“You’re such a baby.” She muttered as she left to do more dog related stuff. “By the way. . . (something, something something)” she added.
I medicated a little and planted myself in my recliner. I attempted the daily crypto quip, jumble and crossword puzzle, though I found it more difficult than usual what with the words and letters floating off the page and shifting hues.
By bedtime I was reasonably sure I wasn’t going to make it to work on Tuesday, but I set the alarm anyway. Just before collapsing I slurped down a heaping portion of Nyquil, the green goddess, the liquid time machine.
Nyquil is one of creations’ greatest achievements. Though not very tasty, it has the ability not to cure your cold, but rather to let the cold take its course as you slip in to what can only be described as a very pleasant coma. Alas, as much as I had wanted it, planned for it, the deep slumber came only in fits and starts. Waking up with my face flooding in pain and brain fluid. Victoria Falls on one side of my head, the driest, most coarse Sahara on the other. Turning over from one side to the other only yielded pain as the internal substances shifted from one side to the other, pausing briefly to mimic hard core suffocation.
The alarm went off, I knew it would as I had been staring at the clock from blurred, pained eyes for over an hour. I got up after the third attempt, called in to my workplace’s voicemail, then kicked back in the recliner. No point going back to bed, there was simply no comfort to be found there.
Angel eventually got up and saw me. She harrumphed sympathetically. I promised to try to stay out of her way.
I sent most of the day medicating and sleeping it off. By evening I felt no better at all, mostly medicated, but I felt no worse either.
“You know when I went through this last week (something, something). . . ” Angel related.
“You’re comparing this major, life threatening health event to that case of the sniffles you had last week?” I scolded.
“Oh I see, I couldn’t have been as sick as you are now” She replied.
“If you were this sick, I would have noticed!” I slammed.
She laughed, the same cold, hard laugh you might hear from an executioner between blade drops.
Wednesday I felt no worse, it was harder to determine if I felt any better.
I went to work on the theory that this cold had lingered long enough to be gone. I was wrong. Fortunately the workload wasn’t too heavy or too challenging. I struggled through every simple task. I went through several paper towels, sneezing fits that could level forests if properly focused. I felt better in one respect, I had to be getting closer to the end of this siege.
Thursday morning. I’d sworn off the Nyquil, believing mixed signals were scrambling my brain. My medication was reduced to Ibuprofen and Zicam, liberal applications of both. Still sleeping in one or so hour sweaty chunks, interrupted by sinus dam bursts and torrential flows of thick nasal stuff. Surely this nightmare was near an end, off to another day of work that I would likely never recall.
Friday morning. Still waking up too many times but not so many. Breathing a bit clearer for a bit longer. I could see the light at the end of my nasal passages. Friday afternoon, relapse. Pain, general discomfort, cold sweats, wheezing, and now making a surprise appearance, a booming, liquid thudding cough, tearing chunks out of my inner chest. With each painful bark, my head would expand like a balloon in outer space, then collapse back onto itself. “What was I thinking?” I thought to myself, realizing that even the voice in my head sounded nasal and rough.
As I drove home, i realized that I was finally breathing through my nose without the gurgling and whistling that had become my soundtrack. My chest was still heavy, still coughing up parts of unknown organs, but I could breathe.
I assume its going away now. I certainly hope none of you get thrown down by this vicious bug. I really don think a lesser person would survive it.