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Myra Demeter Headshot

My Great, Big, Horrible Cold

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Miserable, miserable, miserable. That's how I feel. All I want to do is to be able to breathe. Not to smell the roses, but to breathe. It started Tuesday afternoon after a perfectly normal day. I danced, I showered and then it hit me. It began as a slow drip that I managed with a single tissue at intervals. It reminded me of the drip I carefully adjust for my cat when she wants to drink water from the faucet -- a slow, controlled drip. By that evening my condition had progressed into a full-blown storm surge. My body felt as if it were experiencing a tsunami that could not be controlled. I was overcome by waves of sneezes followed by a constant waterfall that emanated from my nose. It didn't matter how often I blew my nose, it just kept coming and coming. It was sort of amazing that my body could produce such prodigious amounts of liquid. First it took over my nose, then my sinuses and then it traveled to my throat and ears. From my neck up I was engulfed in a giant wet cotton ball -- my nose was Niagara Falls, my ears were stuffed and they clicked with each attempt at swallowing and my throat was on fire.

With what little energy I could muster, I tried salt water gargles, hot liquids with honey, nasal sprays and cold pills -- all to no avail. I couldn't break through the barrier of total encapsulation. I would have gladly taken the dry mouth and anesthetized nose passages that those remedies usually bring -- but it didn't work. By the evening I really didn't feel well -- and it was New Year's Eve. Luckily, we hadn't received a single invitation for that evening because I could not have moved an inch off my bed. Although I resembled Rudolph the reindeer, I didn't have the holiday spirit. I set myself up in bed with multiple comforters to battle the chill, strategically placed boxes of tissues spread all over the bed to be accessible at a moment's notice, A & D ointment to apply on my chaffed nose each time I blew it, Chapstick for my lips and reading material so I could busy myself during the sleepless night.

All I could think of was Why hadn't we ever invested in Kleenex tissues!? My own usage probably drove up the stock price. My wastebasket overfloweth. Although I washed my hands till they too were chapped, my family stayed away from me for fear of catching my germs. Only my cats could feel how distressed I was and came to comfort me -- sitting on the bed next to me and allowing me to stroke them.

Each of my four sons had advice for me on how to manage my situation. One son learned about neti pots, a.k.a nasal irrigation systems, from a Bosnian friend and said it worked every time. Another son said "get Airborne- a big influx of vitamins." My youngest son's girlfriend brought me a juice concoction labeled, "Feel better" that had lemon, cayenne, ginger, Echinacea, salt and turmeric. Although it was vile tasting, she swore that it helped her. My eldest son stuck his head in the bedroom door and just wanted to know if I was still sick. He wanted to pet the cat that was keeping me company but didn't want to expose himself, so he left. And my dear husband -- it didn't ever register that my absence from the household for days meant I was sick.

Today is day six and I am finally feeling better. I can breathe through one nostril and consider that a great improvement. I still don't feel as if I am really breathing because I am numb from all the probing and prodding, but there's definitely been some progress towards a recovery. After all, it is a cold and the cold virus lives for a week, invades and tortures us for that time and then dies.

After all -- it's just a cold! How long can it last? Not much longer. I can't wait till I am fully recovered and I can resume dancing, eating and breathing!