Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Marriage Made In Common-Cold Heaven

I’ve come to the conclusion that Wal-Marts and video arcades can be hazardous to your health.

On Saturday night (11/7), in an effort to escape the confines of my house for a few hours (and to search for some writing inspiration), I picked up a few household essentials from my neighborhood overseas factory outlet store which took perhaps a half-hour at most.  Maybe it was just my imagination (sounds like a great song title, doesn’t it?), but the store seemed unusually crowded for a Saturday night.  I then proceeded to a local video arcade/sports bar for an hour or two of gaming, watching assorted sporting events on their billboard-sized televisions, and indulging in a couple of glasses of wine.

Everything was good.

The room is nicely equipped with an assortment of old- and new-school games: skee-ball, basketball, auto racing, kill-everything-in-sight video games, a variety of “ball-toss” contests, TV-game-show-based challenges, trivia contests, air hockey, horse-racing, and those impossible-to-win pick-a-prize-and-retrieve-it-if-you-can rip-off machines.

Like the Wal-Mart, the arcade was much more crowded than usual for a Saturday night, and the gaming room was literally wall-to-wall people.  Still, I had a good time, enjoyed a couple of hours of inexpensive fun, and even won a handful of cheapie prizes.  I returned home feeling tired but content.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning: I woke up with the sensation that my throat was on fire.  Knowing most colds require approximately 48 hours to incubate after infection, I didn’t need Marcus Welby to trace the origins of this nightmare-in-the-making back to somebody either at Wal-Mart or the arcade.  Rest assured, I devote several minutes of each day to cursing his/her existence and placing exotic poxes upon his/her house.

It started out as a small spot of inflammation; but by the end of the day, the entire back of my throat cried out for the services of Hook and Ladder Company #1.

By Wednesday, my head felt like a throbbing balloon filled and stretched to the breaking point with scalding hot water.

By Thursday, the invader had marched its way down into my chest, swelling and inflaming everything in its path.  My voice now sounds two octaves lower; my lungs are irritated from intermittent fits of sneezing and coughing; I can’t stay out of bed for more than 20 minutes at a time; my nose bears a striking resemblance to that of a certain legendary reindeer (how appropriate, given the season!); and even brushing my teeth requires a major effort.

What hurts?:
  • Sinuses
  • Head
  • Eyes
  • Teeth
  • Chest
  • Limbs
  • Fingernails
  • Gums
  • Nose
  • Ears (20% of my hearing is gone)
  • Every muscle
  • Hair

As I write this, what I’m dreading the most is the frightening possibility of this malevolent invasion force—bent on occupation and destruction--marauding its way down into my lower GI tract.  I’m already anticipating mass evacuations of the existing population, if you catch my drift.

Oh, the humanity!

But I’m prepared for the worst.  I have a full bottle of Kaopectate at the ready.  However, I’m really hoping that all-out warfare can be averted.  I’m open to a negotiated settlement.  Is Henry Kissinger still around?  Hello, Hilary?  Is John Kerry looking for some side work? 

Thankfully, I have two sources of comfort available to me in this time of trial: chicken soup and tea.

My mother—may she rest in peace—was a lifelong believer in the supernatural healing qualities of chicken soup.  I think she could easily convince even the most hard-boiled scientist that this folksy, old-school elixir was a sure cure for many ailments.

While not exactly the preferred fate of the world’s chickens, they could draw at least some minimal satisfaction in knowing that they sacrificed their lives for the cause of comfort and healing rather than ending up unceremoniously surrounded by biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy, and Cole slaw in some brightly-colored cardboard bucket.

‘Tis a much higher calling, in my humble opinion.

A huge pot of simmering chicken soup was a ubiquitous sight on our kitchen stove.  On those days when she had the time and the energy (or when someone in the family was sick), Mom would boil chicken parts, peel off the meat and painstakingly cut it into bite-sized chunks, slice and add a variety of veggies and produce, add her own special formula of secret herbs and spices (take THAT, Colonel Sanders!), fill it out with two packages of fine egg noodles, and slow-simmer it all for hours. 

That, dear reader, was chicken soup

If homemade was not an option for some reason, the only store-bought alternative she ever served in her kitchen was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup.  Period.  For some reason—which went to the grave with her—other brands apparently failed to meet her time-tested, old-world standards.

Good for you, Mom.

Tea with lemon and honey was another “comfort food” that dominated my Google search results for cold remedies.  I’ll admit to being an infrequent tea drinker in recent years … and the tea was iced on a majority of those occasions.  While I don’t normally keep honey or lemon on hand, I was relieved to remember that I’d recently bought a box of Lipton Tea Bags for my writing sessions.  I apologize in advance to tea purists everywhere who cringe at the very idea of Lipton Tea.  In my defense, I’d seriously considered Earl Grey as well (as a retired Trekker, I considered that moment of good taste very Jean-Luc Picard of me); but I ultimately decided to go instead with a household name with which I was more familiar.

I thanked the fates for prompting me to pick up those teabags during one of my late-night shopping excursions  

After three minutes in my ancient microwave, the tea was ready for sipping.  The steaming vapors instantly soothed the raw, inflamed flesh at the back of my throat.  I cannot begin to describe the feeling of relief as the mellow, aromatic liquid cascaded down my throat spreading warmth and comfort to those tormented tissues that have been irritated for the better part of a week.

Those precious sips of tea felt sooooooooooooo good! 

For a few wonderful moments, the pain was nearly gone … and the humble cup of hot tea had found itself another fan on this side of the Atlantic.  The relief, of course, was temporary but most welcomed.

I found myself profoundly grateful to the wonderful people of the United Kingdom who—even in their darkest hours—have always steadfastly maintained that any time was a good time for a nice cuppa.

You are so right, my friends.

My eyes are beginning to hurt again from staring at the computer monitor for too long.  I feel a compelling need to get back into bed.  My writing and networking activities will be somewhat curtailed until I finally get this viral monster off my back (and out of my system).  But, first on my agenda will be a hot bowl of chicken soup.  Some time afterward, I’ll again pamper myself with the simple luxury of a soothing cup of tea.

Maybe I’m on to something good here…. 

Ahhh … ahhh … ahhhhhh … ahhhhh … AH CHOO!

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