I’m recovering from a bout of bronchitis. I was about to say it hit me like a ton of bricks, but then it occurred to me it’s probably just as bad to get hit by one brick as a ton of them. In fact, a ton may be preferable; you’d be unlikely to survive the onslaught and your suffering would be over quickly. However, if someone took a ton of bricks and hurled them at you one at a time, that might be worse than just one to the noggin or left nut or right shin or wherever it landed.
I’m pretty sure my wife regifted me with the bronchitis she’d been fighting off (should have thrown a brick at it) for the prior week and a half. Carol doesn’t get sick often but when she does, she puts her all into it. Coughing, wheezing, sneezing, sleeplessness, kvetching… there’s your million-dollar idea right there: a version of Sudafed that eliminates cough, congestion and kvetching. I put on my good-husband hat and made tea, warmed soup, brought tissues, expressed empathy. However, what I could NOT bear to do was respond every time Carol blew her nose and then went, “Ugh… look at this!” I know what phlegm looks like and don’t need any reminders. Have you seen the TV commercial where some poor woman is being chased down the street by a giant snot monster? “At the first sign of a cold, take –.” Believe me, if you think a giant snot monster is pursuing you, you’re well past the first sign of a cold and deep into feverish hallucinations and possibly early-onset dementia.
Anyway, after tending to the missus I thought I’d dodged a bullet (brick?) since I didn’t seem to be coming down with anything myself. But about 10 days after wifey’s first symptoms, I suddenly became congested and starting coughing and had the worst sore throat I could remember — it felt like I’d tried to swallow a broken coffee mug that had lodged mid-gullet. For a few days I alternated between staying home and going into work; I flattered myself into thinking my presence was required for some meetings but, based on the terrified looks of the other attendees when they saw my condition, that assessment may have been erroneous. I tried to speak at one session and what came out of my mouth was a sound so low, guttural and primal that all the birds, rodents and feral cats living in downtown Boston began to stampede toward the Berkshires as if they’d heard the early off-shore rumblings of an approaching tsunami and were seeking refuge on higher ground.
Surprisingly there was a brief plus side to my ailment. One of the days I dragged myself into work I attempted to return a greeting from a co-worker; while it was obvious that I was ailing she said my voice sounded “sexy”. I guess I did sound a little like Barry White if you could imagine him speaking immediately after biting his own tongue. Flash forward a week and a half and I ran into the same co-worker again; she asked if I was feeling better and I replied I was, albeit still getting over it. She said, “Well, you still sound a little sexy.” Now I felt belittled and so desperately wanted to recover whatever elusive quality had rendered me full-on sexy mere days before that I considered throwing away the remainder of my supply of Mucinex.
As I type this, two full weeks after symptoms first appeared, I’m still experiencing the occasional chest-rattling cough and interrupting any interaction lasting more than 90 seconds with a nose-blow. But as much as I complain, Carol’s had it worse — toughing it out at work but exhausted when she gets home. Last night she was in bed by 8:30. Almost 14 hours later and she’s still sleeping, so let me wrap this up and see if I can rouse her. Now, where’s that brick?
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