When you start to see 40 peaking its head out at you from around the corner, you think you’ve seen it all. Sure, there are surprises here and there, but you know yourself and your body pretty well. At least that was my take on things, until I got slammed with one of the nastiest, most phlegm-filled, sinus-screwing, head-aching, fever-pitching, grosser-than-gross cold sore-inducing bug that ever existed. In the last two weeks this “uncommon cold” has been teaching me more than I ever could have imagined.
It started with a sore throat. I believe the proper medical term for this condition is grim-reaper-eosis. Once you feel that dry scratchiness while downing your morning cup of caffeine with a splash of milk and Splenda, you touch your neck and know that the rest of your week has turned to crap and there is pretty much nothing you can do about it.
After 48 hours of feeling like I was swallowing knives, the shit really hit the fan, with watery eyes, a blistering fever, the shakes, a cold sore the size of Mt. Vesuvius and constant sneezing. When I wasn’t sneezing, I was being tortured by that one damn sneeze that wouldn’t come out. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that’s right there at the tip of your nose. Your mouth is wide open, your eyes are closed, your head is tilted back, and you’re just waiting for it. The mother f’er refuses to come out. Finally, when I did sneeze, a full cavalcade of sneezes came charging, and I became the unwitting impersonator of the lead singer of Whitesnake, head banging with the best of '80s rockers. Axl Rose would have been proud.
After about a week of this, with no reprieve in sight, I headed over to Facebook, seeking out remedies to rid myself of this miserable beast. And boy, did I receive some curious and fascinating tips from friends who have convinced me that they've found the perfect cure for the common cold. Here they are, in the order I received them.
My Awesome Facebook Friends’ Surefire Ways to Cure the Worst Cold on Earth
Ginger root boiled; cider and add honey; Denavir; sleep and hydration; vegetables (“before you get the cold”); garlic plus zinc lozenges; vitamin C tablets; peel a lime and boil it in water for a bit, then add honey to a cup of it and drink it hot; dress warmer than you feel; acupuncture; coconut oil; camu powder; chicken soup; bath salts, which won’t cure the cold but will help you forget about it; laser treatment (to zap that cold sore); Thieves; gallons of garlic soup (“which makes me feel much better, but my husband won't sleep next to me”); ginger juice and some honey; Mucinex; olive leaves that come in capsules and or Cold-EEZE; a humidifier with eucalyptus oil in it all night; wine (with this many "????????"), Theraflu, and Emergen-C.
The most unique remedy was sent via email by some wonderful new European friends:
Fill a bucket with hot water
Add salt and pepper (a lot of salt and pepper)
Place the bucket in front of a comfortable place to sit
Place your feet in the bucket
Cover yourself with a warm blanket (duvet type), including your head
Sit and breathe the warm steam for 20 to 30 minutes
Expect to sweat a lot
When you are done, drink a lot of liquids
You should feel much better by the end of the day
Are you dying to find out which of these recommendations worked the best to cure the worst cold I’ve ever had? Well, me too. Because I was too sick, too tired, and too overwhelmed and intimidated by such an abundance of choices that I panicked and tried not one of them other than some bland chicken soup. In my half-crazed, exhausted, mother-f’n-sneeze-that-wouldn’t-come-out-of-my-face state, I could do nothing other than lie on the couch and moan.
Actually, that's not completely accurate. I was able to accomplish a few other things in this sorry state. I was able to hate myself for being lazy, smelly, tired, and unproductive. I was extremely capable of telling myself I'm a bad mom and wife and a big sloth for not making it to the gym. My dad’s voice, back from when I was laid up with mono and a sinus infection, kept playing in my head: “Stop being lazy and get out of bed.”
My biggest accomplishment, for better or worse, has been convincing myself that this cold is going to kill me. This can't just be a virus I'll recover from. Oh no, this is the beginning of the end for me. One night, I literally lay on my couch and pictured myself as Hillary in Beaches, minus the fake big lips, dying as Bette Midler fell in love with my cute husband, adopted my cute kid, and lived happily ever after in my semi-cluttered yet cute home without me. After a quick funeral, I pictured my kid on stage next to Bette as she belted out the most amazing rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings” while my picture was displayed overhead. Sigh.
Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m deathly afraid of everything falling into place. So when things in my life seem to be going reasonably well, as they are now, I wait for them to fall apart. My battle with the sniffles was yet another chance to prove that this time I'm right – something really catastophic is coming. Whether it's a cold, a conflict with a colleague, or some other typical yet unfortunate happenstance, in my mind it's the first indication that the sky is falling – kerplunk – right on top of my head.
I can handle a tough cold. And I might even be able to handle sitting with my feet in tub filled with flaming hot water, a pound of salt, and a pound of pepper with a heavy duvet over my hunched-over body. But what I really yearn for these days is to feel safe. Safe that I can handle the good times and the bad, and safe in the knowledge that my life can run somewhat smoothly for a little while. Maybe during the next cold from hell, I'll do a bit better. With all of these new remedies and a big wool blanket handy, how can I go wrong?
~By Wendy Widom, Families in the Loop