Like most people, I have my share of health challenges. But when it comes to things like the common cold, sinus infections and bronchitis, I’ve been pretty lucky. Well, sort of lucky.
I usually come down with one or more of these ailments only about once a year. That’s the lucky part. When it hits, it lasts about six months. That’s the sort of part.
I am currently in what I hope are the end stages of the cold/sinus infection/bronchitis trifecta of 2015. By end stages I mean that I’m nearly well, not that I’m about to succumb to it, though at this point I’d settle for either outcome just to be done with it.
According to my health care provider, I am but one of many currently suffering from the same malady, so I’m sure some of you can relate.
I find the whole process predictable and frustrating. One day you’re fine. The next day you sneeze a few times. The next day you wake up with a scratchy throat. Before you know it, you’re blowing your nose every 15 seconds, stopping only long enough to have another coughing fit.
Now that I’m older and more vulnerable to complications, when I was struck recently I knew I needed to try to nip it in the bud. So I went to the doctor early on (no senior discounts there). I was given antibiotics for my sinus infection and expectorant for my bronchitis and told to stay home for a few days.
So I stayed home, partly because I felt awful and partly because I didn’t want to spread my germs to my co-workers or annoy them with my nonstop coughing and nose blowing.
I have completed my course of antibiotics and taken enough expectorant to cough up a lung and a half. I am back at work. While I’m confident that I’m no longer contagious, I’m pretty sure I’m still plenty annoying.
As my fellow sufferers, and now my co-workers, know, with illnesses such as these, the cough tends to linger. And by linger I mean it makes your life miserable for weeks, even months.
The constant coughing makes your throat sore. It makes your chest and back muscles ache. And it makes your co-workers gather in the break room to figure out how to make it “look like an accident.”
You understand their frustration, because when one of them is sick, you’re the first person in the break room saying, “He must be silenced!”
So you try really hard not to cough. When you feel a cough coming on, you try to stifle it by holding your mouth shut and pressing your lips together. This produces two sounds.
The first is something along the lines of “hmmmmmmmm, hmmmmmmmm.” The second sound occurs when the cough overpowers your lips — as it always does — and you go “hmmmmmmPAAAhackkkkk!”
This often results in heavy sighs from your co-workers, as they begin to drift toward the break room.
Within a few days, if you haven’t already had an “accident,” your cough is gone. Yay? Not really, because now, instead of coughing, you are emitting a high-pitched barking sound similar to a Chihuahua choking on a chicken bone.
After a week or two of this, you feel worse than you did when you stayed home from work. You wonder if you should go back to the doctor. Perhaps you have pneumonia. More likely your doctor will tell you, “These things just have to run their course.” The only way to find out is to spend more money.
Chances are there’s nothing to be done, and you’ll just waste the money for an office visit. But think it through before you decide to forgo the follow-up visit.
Just think what your medical bills might be should you have an “accident” after one too many choking Chihuahua barks.