I’ve been sick for the past few days. It started on Monday, when I woke up with a sore, dry throat. I attributed it to getting drunk on Sunday night and falling asleep with my mouth open which, while a wonderful way to sleep through the night, makes me feel like I’ve been standing in front of one of those skydiving fans all day. Scratchy, tacky, and gross.
Normally, this kind of feeling subsides after a few cups of coffee, but in my case, it persisted in mild form until Thursday, when I felt like coughing/sneezing/blowing about eighteen pounds of phlegm out of my upper body. I was hoping that Thursday would be the last day of the cold, since a doctor once told me that most colds go on a four-day cycle. The fourth day after you first notice symptoms is supposed to be the worst, or something. But then I woke up feeling like shit yesterday, and this morning I’m sort of afraid to start coughing because I know how painful it will be to clear this garbage out of my chest. I’d thought about driving up to Hannibal for a Mark Twain festival today (because I’m a nerd, that’s why), but there are enough problems in rural Missouri without me bringing a possible case of tuberculosis up there with me.
My mother once told me that medicine doesn’t actually make you better. She wasn’t talking about antibiotics or heart pressure medicine, of course, she just meant cold medicine and Nyquil. She said that it doesn’t do anything to fix you, it just makes your symptoms go away for awhile, and in some cases (Nyquil), contains so much alcohol that it simply puts you to sleep so you don’t have to think about being sick anymore. Now of course I love alcohol, but I never feel like drinking it while I’m sick. So I checked my bathroom cabinet for medicine the other day. There was almost a full box of Benadryl Cold and Allergy in there, and although it warned that “marked drowsiness” could occur, I had no place to go that night and the expiration date was February 2009. I could probably take three and experience a small, stale bit of relief. Right?
I’m no scientist, but I’m willing to bet that cold medicine expires a hell of a lot sooner than sleep medication does. My symptoms didn’t go away at all, but about 40 minutes after taking those pills, I felt this soft, dull wave break over the backs of my eyes. I can’t decide if that’s a weird way to explain it, but that’s how sleep medication feels . One minute you don’t feel anything, the next minute your head feels like it’s wrapped in a towel and your limbs have gotten very, very heavy. I long ago learned to stop being frightened when things I’d ingested kicked in, and that it was much more fun (or simply less horrifying) to just go along for the ride. So I went to bed and woke up five hours later on top of my arm, which had turned a frightening shade of bluish white, which is what made me remember that if I take sleeping pills, I’m supposed to fall asleep on my back.
Last night was the worst night. The Internet was being a dick and I couldn’t stop coughing, so I took two of my “expired” cold and allergy pills and went to bed around ten. It felt like I’d been asleep for several hours when Dave called at 11:45, and when I stumbled out of bed at around 7am to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t at first remember what a person is supposed to do when they wake up needing to pee. I finally woke up for good around 10am, at which point I’d been dreaming about sleeping for probably an hour. I’m awake now, but I’m slow. I’m confused. I keep catching myself staring off into space without any thoughts in my brain whatsoever, which freaks me out because I saw this thing on NatGeo that said our brains always have to be thinking about something or else they can atrophy and die, basically.
In the interest of keeping my brain alive, today will be full of documentaries, coffee, and books. Or, if I decide that I can’t stay in this house any longer without killing a piece of furniture, I might go to a porksteak cookoff (I know how it sounds, but my friend Matt won last year and grilled meats are involved, so whatever) or make that drive up to Hannibal (if I can shake this brain problem long enough to make a decent CD for the trip).
Today will also be full of terrible, guttural coughing (hopefully in public!), which leads to believe that Val Kilmer is a filthy dirty liar: