I hate reading blog posts that start out, "Sorry I haven't been posting for awhile..."
So let's just pretend I have been posting for the past week, shall we?
My touchy sinuses finally decided to develop into full-blown infection on Wednesday and I panicked. After all, I'm scheduled to be in Chicago for BlogHer
starting next Thursday. I can't be sick! Knowing how these things go with me (sinus infections, not conferences), I called the doctor and managed to get an appointment and an antibiotic that day. I still have a throaty voice that sounds like a muffled Tara Reid impression, and just taking a shower makes me tired, but my daily activities are no longer limited to sitting on the couch being a mouth-breather. Sure, my eyes feel like they might pop out of their sockets from time to time when I blow my nose. But at least my sinuses no longer feel like they're jam-packed with Nargles
while a Dementor
sucks the lifeblood out of them. (Yes, I saw the latest Harry Potter movie. No, I have not purchased the newest book yet.)
I know that antibiotics are overly-prescribed, and that this is a dangerous thing resulting in superbugs that may one day consume civilization. And I know that there's no cure for the common cold. But the thing is, in my family, we don't get the common cold. We get knock-down-drag-out, kick-you-on-your-ass colds. Or infections. Or whatever. Call it what you will. We get sick and we don't get better until you give us the drugs.
My brother and I have been this way since childhood. One year I missed so much school that I needed notes from my doctor for every single absence in order to be allowed to go to the next grade. Apparently my straight-A's counted less than my attendance. My dad got a sinus infection over a month ago and is just now getting back to full strength. And that's after
he took 10 days worth of antibiotics. In my family, we don't get "just a little cold" or "the sniffles." We don't even understand what people mean when they say that. Instead, we get head-throbbing sinus pressure, sore throats that render us mute, and mind-numbing lethargy worthy of mononucleosis. With the possible exception of my mom, who has an extremely high pain threshold, the work ethic of a Protestant, and the guilt complex of a Catholic, "colds" kick the crap out of us and put us out of commission for days on end.
Given this history, it was imperative that I get on an antibiotic at the first sign of illness. And it worked! Instead of spending a week and a half in a fog, I'm coming out from the haze after just five days.
But even I know that there are some things antibiotics really don't help. Like the time I had the stomach flu in England. I was about three months into my one-year stint as a volunteer with a London YMCA, and I had just discovered polenta. A young Australian couple from church introduced it to me over dinner one night. I thought it was great stuff. So I went out and bought me some. Unfortunately, it was the last thing I ate before I came down with the most wicked stomach flu of my life. At first I thought it was the polenta. Then I realized it was a plague from hell.
During my time in England, I lived in the YMCA where I worked. (And yes, there are least a dozen stories to go along with that!) But when I got the flu I was staying in my friend's flat next door while she was in Hong Kong for six weeks. I thank the Queen Mum that I was living there when that damn British bug colonized my Yankee body. Because the bathroom, instead of being at the opposite end of a long hallway, was adjacent to the flat's bedroom. When you sleep for 12 hours at a time and only get up to be sick and moan, you want a bathroom as close to you as possible. You don't want to walk past 10 other rooms to a shared toilet. I like to do my retching in private, thank you very much.
But when you're sick in a foreign country, privacy can begin to feel like isolation. I think I called my mom and literally cried that I wanted my mommy. Still, people were kind to me. My boss stopped by to see if I needed anything. The motherly Scottish woman from HR, who also happened to be the wife of the YMCA's CEO, brought me juice (probably Ribena
), crackers, Lemsip
, and Paracetamol
. When she asked what else I needed, I faced the embarrassing task of finding a delicate way to explain that my bum was sore from repeated trips to the bathroom. How do you ask a near-stranger and co-worker for butt cream? I think I hemmed and hawed, dancing around the topic, saying things like: "Well, I've been using the toilet a lot... and, well, I'm a bit sore... Is there maybe something for that? A cream or salve, perhaps?"
A note on the word toilet
. Here in the U.S., it sounds crude to say "I've been using the toilet a lot." And if I had to "go" while at someone's house, I certainly wouldn't ask, "Where's the toilet?" But in the U.K., that's completely fine. I was originally hoping to get to use the term "water closet" or "W.C." while in England, but I think it may be a bit old fashioned and didn't really hear it used much.
In the end, I made it through my bout of the English flu. But now, 10 years later, I can't even smell polenta without feeling sick
and practically running to the bathroom