“the cough that terrorized a nation”
It is officially two weeks since my first cough set in, setting about a series of unhealthy events involving my head, throat, chest and buttocks. After fighting off dizzy spells, fainting spells, nauseous spells, hacking until a migraine developed, my right rib cage spasmed and I nearly saw stars and Bugs Bunny chasing Daffy Duck, I’m well into the occasional coughing fit into dry heaves into my kitchen sink and snot congestion before bedtime phase.
I felt well enough to check out my husband Eddie’s latest gig on Saturday evening, at Third Place Books in Lake Forest, near Kenmore where we used to live right about when we first moved here from Hawaii. Think Midwestern mall meets hippie retirement commune, within a paltry food court of catered leftover Microsoft year-end partying. Tres depressing. I kept looking over my shoulder for the shrouded hood of the ghost of Christmas future about to warn me of my impending death.
Even though, I could barely get in a double-chocolate cookie crumb (the sense of taste and smell seeped back two days ago) without spitting it up from the coughing. Don’t laugh, I just spewed bits of toast on the computer screen trying to inhale.
Sitting there, sipping my peppermint tea with honey, glancing about me at the middle-aged version of suburban Seattle-ites chatting animatedly, poring over books and chasing after barefeet laughing children, I thought, “What a pathetic way to destroy the human race. But very effective.”
The common cold.
Forget slamming planes into tall city buildings and major political headquarters, or blowing up trains full of commuters. Been there, they done done that. It’s all expected and quite extravagant.
But to attack from within, with one infected human being, a small child no less. Think of the economy, the subterfuge, the clever, anonymous impact. Nobody would notice, nobody could guess.
Every time I catch a cold, I suggest this theory to anybody who’ll listen. And every time, anybody scoffs, “It’s just a cold. Take some Nyquil and you’ll be fine in a few weeks.”
The past 12 months have been a suspicious boon for colds of all kinds. I must’ve caught about 12 different varieties, each lasting longer than the next, each worse symptomatically, leaving me more and more incapacitated, not just physically but mentally and emotionally.
This last, just when I’d started to incorporate that treadmill into my renewed diet and exercise regimen, waking up with the birds and the sun rising over my two cherry trees instead of way past noon, feeling hopeful about the events planned for the days into the weeks and finally able to schedule an outing to Pike Place with my best friend after weeks and weeks of single-parenting because Eddie was too busy with his day job and nightly/weekend gigs.
Talk about killing the will to “not let the terrorists win.”
I can barely lift my aching, pounding head to sneeze, much less drag my shit-filled ass out of the phlegm-laden, sweat-stained bed sheets to mic a bowl of instant Lipton chicken noodle. Forget the planned grocery run to the business Costco for the next week’s dinner itinerary, and never mind the Tuesday jaunts down to Shilshole Bay for some beach RnR.
In fact, rip out the rest of the pages of my 2004 appointment book, I’ll be sitting here curled up in a corner in the dark rocking myself to another coughing fit, staring daggers at the young lithesome, cough-free, models in those annoyingly catchy Old Navy ads (quick, someone buy me the CD that music’s on) and fixating somewhere else on someone to blame.
Bin laden’s a good start.
Because, just think. I am not going through hell on earth right now on mere chance, not for the sixth month in a fucking row, hating anybody I can think of who remotely coughed my way and derailed my up and coming life, contemplating on a withdrawn life in a bubble, eschewing church, choir practice, holiday shindigs, birthdays, babysat nights out.
Maybe Al Quada has a few children in daycare...
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