Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Not the Cough

I hadn't had bronchitis in nearly a decade. Life was pretty good, at long last, I thought. And then came this summer.

After my exhausting trip out west and back, I guess my resistance to viruses was somewhat lower than it had been before my travels.

So I'm enjoying the thrill of having acquired a very nasty deep cough, exacerbated by the high pollen count triggering post-nasal drip, which, in turn, triggers a constant tickle in the back of the throat, which means a steady shallow cough, and, well, let's just say that a couple more months like this, and my abs should be bikini-worthy. Well, not really, but they're definitely getting an exceptional workout.

Several of my friends have also been hit with this bug, and I'm wondering if they discovered the one thing which I'd almost forgotten, from all my many earlier bouts with respiratory hell: if you're not careful, you can run out of toilet paper.

I'm pretty sure most people, when they hear that a nasty cough is going around, don't even imagine this could be a problem. After all, it's a cough. Just a cough. You know, a little uncomfortable lung activity. Clear the throat, force a little air past those tightening bronchi, all in the upper torso, nothing else (unless, maybe there's the possibility that you, say, throw your back out, or bite your tongue, or some such). And, if you believe people involved in show business, then a nasty cough sounds and looks a lot like Anne Elk clearing her throat.

(I saw a cough medicine commercial where the "sufferer" sounded just like that. Honestly. Real, deep, clear-the-lungs coughs resemble this in the same way that cow pats resemble fly specks. Both are unpleasant, but there are several orders of magnitude between the one and the other. But if the advertiser is treating only this level, I can see how it might be successful. For me, over-the-counter drugs are pretty much useless.)

But there is so much more to it than just a cough. There is that moment when the body, in paroxysm, works to expunge everything. Everything. That little bit of pressure you were feeling from your bladder just a minute ago…no longer.

It's a little bit like being a kid getting ready for a long trip in the car. "Did everybody go to the bathroom?" Even if you didn't think you needed to, you still needed to, because you never knew when the next opportunity would arise, and you couldn't predict how many big bumps there were in the highway before you reached that next rest area. Moms teach you these things. So does experience.

When given a choice of teachers, go with Mom.

And, so, for the sake of my wardrobe – and my sanity, such as it is – I requested that we increase our supply of tissue rather dramatically, just in case.

Because, despite Ogden Nash's claim
It's not the cough that carries you ough,  
It's the coffin they carry you offin 
as bad as it is, the part of bronchitis most maddening, to me, isn't really the illness itself.

It's trips to the potty that drive you dotty.

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