Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Diagnosis Bronchitis: A Tale of Survival

It happens to me every year. My deep, chronic cough finally gets the best of me and turns into the real deal: bronchitis. I've had this charming condition since the fourth grade, when I caught my first bout of it from Kevin Scott during craft time. I thought his cough sounded cool, and sure enough, a day or two after we worked on hooking that yarn rug together, I had a nifty hack of my own. During moments of waking sanity this week, I have chronicled my harrowing journey as a lesson in survival.

Diagnosis Bronchitis, Day One: After waking up at 3 a.m. feeling like someone shot me in the chest with a cannonball and then coughing most of the night, I shuffle to the bathroom and somehow manage to get ready for church without falling asleep on top of my flat iron. We proceed to church where I down a fistful of cough drops and mints and employ deep meditative breathing to make every effort to stifle my hacking, only to have the poor woman sitting in front of me tell me she hoped my cold got better as we were leaving. So much for stifling. I am sure she was shocked to turn around and find that I was not, in fact, a 75 year-old chain smoker as my cough suggests.

Day Two: I spent the night having some serious psychedelic dreams due to my extra strength cough syrup, and awaken to find (very disappointingly) that I am still sick and my body has not managed to heal itself in its sleep, as I had hoped. I stagger to the couch and wrap myself in an old comforter like an emphysema burrito. Key accomplishments for today include successfully ordering lunch online, brushing my teeth at 4:30 p.m., and washing a piece of fruit, only to decide I was too tired to eat it and then replacing said fruit in favor of a Lucky Charms treat.

To my amazement, I was still alive by nightfall, so I curled up with my hot mug of TheraThisTastesSoBadItMustBeEffective to watch this week's Walking Dead. I am taking comfort in the fact that I can relate to the dead people walking, until my hubby points out that at least the zombies are not barking like seals and coughing up their lungs. I pour myself more cough syrup and head off to trip the light fantastic in dreamland.

Day Three: Upon waking, I am encouraged. Although I still feel like there is an anvil on my chest, I can now breathe through my nose, which is a major milestone in my recovery. It's amazing how your spirits soar when you no longer feel like a climber on Mount Everest who needs to return to base camp. I stagger back to my post, i.e. couch, and let the healing powers of Diet Coke wash over my battered soul. I decide against logging the approximately 37 Hall's cough drops I have already eaten today into My Fitness Pal. Haven't I suffered enough?

I have not walked the dog in three days and I begin to fear mutiny. Yesterday he seemed to sense my illness and was somewhat sympathetic; today there is an air of hostility about that little fur ball. He doesn't seem to be tossing his toys toward me in a playful manner but rather in a squeak-my-stuffed-rhino-toy-or-else behavior. I placate him with a chew toy and doze off on the couch. He hasn't mauled me in my sleep, so I take that as a good omen. Treasure your health, people.

Day Four: Wow. I woke up this morning after a full twelve-hour sleep and do not completely feel like death warmed over. Granted, I do not feel spectacularly alive, either, but I will take this as a step in the right direction. I even manage to make myself a healthy bowl of oatmeal for breakfast instead of the Toaster Scramble junk food I have been devouring during this episode of the plague.

Mid-morning arrives and I manage to take the dog for half a walk. Maybe that will stop the side-eye he has been throwing me for the last two days. Later, in an ambitious moment, I put in a P90X3 workout DVD and then promptly sit down and watch the people on the screen get to it. I have expended more than enough energy already today, plus I am sure that a ten minute coughing fit counts as cardio. Whew. Survival of the fittest can sure make a girl tired.

I am now dressed and fully in an upright position. I (for the most part) feel well enough that it's time to go out in search of food. And that means a trip to Walmart. The good news is that I will probably not be the only Walmart shopper with an infectious disease.

However, once I sit down on the couch, fatigue sets in and as I finish my fiftieth coughing jag of the day, I realize that Walmart can wait. I decide to forage for food in our increasingly empty kitchen instead, and settle on a slice of cold leftover pizza and some Baked Cheetohs. The path to wellness begins with good nutrition, after all. For scientific purposes, here is a chart of the healthy eats I have consumed over the last few days:

Sustenance is key during the black lung. Never underestimate the healing powers of Double Noodle soup, Chex Mix, and Little Debbie snack cakes. The fruit and rice cakes can wait until your health has been restored. Carb load like your life depends on it.

I make the executive decision to spend the rest of my afternoon getting the house in order. The first order of business is to clear the magazine rack. There are four fashion magazines that have piled up and will need to be read immediately, and I have also noticed an episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills collecting dust in the TiVo. It's my domestic duty as Susie Homemaker to keep it clean around here. Tomorrow, I will conquer Walmart. And after that, the world. Right after the cough syrup wears off and I can feel my feet again.

 It's been a food stamp week so far, my friends.


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