Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pass the Kleenex

The Brainucopia runneth over. It is congested--not with thoughts, but with snot. My husband was sick last week--still is--and now it's my turn. Last winter, I made it through to spring without a cold but finished the season with shingles. This season, I'm starting off with viral toxicity. I'm still not sure which is worse.

It is a long-standing tradition in my life to fall ill the week of Thanksgiving. In fact, of the four times I've had pneumonia, two were during the week of Thanksgiving. It seems to be hard-wired into my brain. I don't think about it; it just happens. And it sucks. And blows. And coughs.

My body produces mucous exceptionally well and with admirable efficiency. Throughout my life, solutions have appeared only to be taken away. Phenylpropanalomine (PPA) was an absolute lifesaver during some of my worst colds and bouts of bronchitis. Nothing else before or since worked as well. Unfortunately, this medication had an unexpected side effect. It was an excellent appetite suppressant. And here is where Americans slide into that murky swamp of no accountability. When the medication went over the counter, it wasn't long before people who refused to diet found out that the drug was quite helpful for those who wanted to lose weight effortlessly.

The thing is, though, that long-term, heavy use of PPA was already known to cause heart attacks and high blood pressure. It was clearly printed on the label. The medication was never meant to be a weight loss aid, it was never prescribed as such, and the manufacturers never mentioned it might be good for that. Unfotunately, the Dexatrim people sold it off-label anyway. People don't think real life applies to them. Chronic dieters developed serious health problems, not the least of which was heart failure. Rather than admit they were idiots to inappropriately ingest a powerful medication in high doses for years, they got together and did what Americans do: They filed personal injury lawsuits against the drug manufacturers citing reckless endangerment and "They should have told us not to do this."

In response to this, PPA was pulled from store shelves and completely taken off the market in 2000. I'll bet the lazy ass diet cheaters never got any thinner, but I started drowning in my own mucous every time I got a cold. And then, of course, I got pneumonia because there was no effective alternative to stop a run-of-the-mill head cold from turning into a major medical condition.

Sudafed never worked very well for me, but it was a serviceable, cheap substitute for PPA. At least, when I needed it, I could get oxygen into my body. Bonus for not dozing off while cooking or using power tools.

Of course, things became less convenient when the crystal meth addicts became drooling, face-picking, toothless shoplifters, clearing store shelves of huge quantities of Sudafed. turns out that the only other decongestant that ever worked is the key ingredient in meth. Can someone please stage a national intervention for these people? Sudafed wasn't eliminated from the American pharmacopoeia, but it started to feel somewhat unsavory when I had to start asking for it at the counter. Suddenly, stopping my runny nose took on the feel of buying a nickel bag.

All was better, if not great, for a few years. When it became evident that SSRI medications were not for me, my doctor prescribed an MAOI. The medication works great, although I do have to take a fairly large dose for the benefits to be apparent. Read the back of any cold medication and you'll see the warning: Do not take this medication if you are currently taking an MAOI.

I have a cold or something worse. I cannot take a decongestant. There are none left for me to take. I am now dependent on water to save me. I use a neti pot to flush out my sinuses. I drink hot tea. I have multiple vaporizers going at any time. I own five vaporizers and a humidifier. Is that excessive?

Let there be no doubt. Although some of those therapies are soothing, they don't do much to halt mucous production. I am congested. I am choking, and my eyes are watering.

I want to kick the collective asses of the lazy dieters and the hallucinating, thieving meth addicts every time I catch a cold. If only I could just wipe them down with a slimy, wet Kleenex.

Seems fair to me.


Ethereal Highway said...

I want to wipe them with slimy Kleenex, too!! I have similar problems when I get sick due to sensitivities. My worst time of year is when the kids go back to school and bring home violently mutated pathogens with which to attempt my murder. I hope you feel better soon.

May Voirrey said...

In the comic strip "Baby Blues," the father once referred to daycare as..."the farm team for viruses." It made me laugh out loud because it's true! I kind of flinch every time a parent tells me they don't like it when sick adults are around their precious children. Ha! Children are far more toxic than adults.

Ethereal Highway said...

Yes, as much as I love children, I must strongly agree with you, May. With the exception of very young infants, healthy children are quite the Typhoid Marys. They can bring home things that knock us on our asses while the same bug barely makes them sniffle. It's astonishing.