Monday, February 21, 2011


It's an annual ritual for me to get a cold, and I can usually count on it happening around this time of the year.  It usually starts off with a sore throat, which drops my voice even lower than puberty, followed by a phlegmboyant cough and sniffles.  So last night, after having woken myself up several times during the previous night with my oh-my-God-I-think-I'm-going-to-cough-up-a-lung cough, I decided to take some "night-time" cold medication that promptly knocked me out for ten hours. I'm still feeling groggy, so please pardon any speling misstakes.

Thankfully, it's just a cold, and nothing worse.  But, as with most of my postings, it's given me an opportunity to wax poetic about some of my more memorable occasions of being sick.

Helllooooo, Nurse.
When I was two or three years old, I had to be hospitalized for gastroenteritis.  I don't recall for how long, but so far - knock wood - it's been the only time that I've been hospitalized overnight (other than when I was born and had to spend my first Christmas in an incubator).  The funny thing is that I actually have memories from that time, even though I was so young - I remember standing up in the crib at night when things were half-lit by the corridor light, and my mom being in the room.  Of course, I don't remember specifics - it's mainly just flashes of images and shadows - but it is, quite literally, my earliest memory.

Sticks and stones may break my bones...and so will jungle gyms.
When I was six, I was playing on the jungle gym in the park near my house with some friends (in an era when it was okay for six-year-olds to be at the park by themselves), and was trying to cross over by swinging from bar to bar, but I fell on my arm.  I remember knowing that something was wrong and I headed home, where I couldn't reach the doorbell because I was in so much pain, so I ended up crouched down and crying until my mom heard me and came to open the door.  Not realizing that something more serious had happened, she told me to come indoors and set the table.  It wasn't until my dad came home and found me sitting in the living room unable to move that they realized my arm was broken.

My right arm was put into a half cast and a sling, and I went through six weeks of baths with a plastic bag over my arm, and tremendous itching because we couldn't remove the bandages for several weeks.  (Of course, I was miffed because I'm left-handed, so I didn't get out of doing homework.)  I also had to be knocked out when the doctors had to re-break re-set my arm in order for it to heal correctly.  I remember feeling nauseous for an entire day after the operation with a metallic aftertaste from the anesthetic.  Bleh.

My mom being my mom - well, she said that it took her decades (yes, decades) to forgive herself for not recognizing that something was wrong when I first came home after that fall, although I'm sure when she reads this, she'll get twinges of guilt again.  Sigh.  It's okay, Mom - I may not be the right-handed tennis star I was destined to be, but you can let it go.

Speak/sing no evil.
Literally.  I've had laryngitis twice in my life thus far, both with terrible timing.  The first time happened in my freshman year at college, right before a sight-singing exam, which I ended up having to defer until the next academic year because it was right before I was to head off for a summer job, and which meant having to carry an incomplete (gasp) grade.  The second was related to a cold (at this time of the year), when I was supposed to be part of a panel making a presentation to a potential funder.  We ended up not getting the grant, which I simply attribute to the fact that I was relegated to being the mute Asian prop in the corner and couldn't fully participate.

No milk for you.
I have always loved dairy.  Milk, cheese, cream, yogurt - you name it, I love it.  Throughout my first few college years, you could always find my fridge filled with yogurt cups (just like Michael Westen, although I lack the super spy skills).  But in my junior year, I had a bout of what I thought was a bad case of stomach flu, which lasted about three days.  And after that, I found I was unable to process lactose without major crampiness.  My gastroenterologist confirmed that my lactose intolerance had been triggered (as it apparently happens for most people in their early 20s), and I joined the millions of other Asians out there who cannot process dairy.  But, just to be sure that it wasn't something more serious, the gastroenterologist had me endure a colonoscopy at the ripe old age of 22.  Ugh.  (Laugh it up all you want, people - when you hit 50, you're gonna have to get one, too.  And a word of advice - if you're going to mix the phosphates with a drink, make sure it's something that you're not likely to want to drink in the future.  Let's just say that white grape juice has never tasted the same to me again.  And I used to love white grape juice.)  And when those results turned up clear, I had to sit through a three-hour test where you down a batch of almost pure lactose, and breathe into a device that apparently measures whether or not your body is breaking it down.  So if you know what my lactose intolerance does to me after a bowl of ice cream, you can imagine what happened when pure lactose hit my system.  And I got to share the experience with 10 strangers in the same room, taking the same test.

So I guess this year's cold - by comparison - ain't so bad.  Yay, me.

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