An old, familiar friend has found me again this summer. May I introduce you to my summer cold?
I get summer colds every year, regularly as clockwork, usually in mid-June. I am almost positive they are set off by pine pollen, which turns the whole world a powdery yellow. Cars, clothes, grass, leaves, even people are dusted with enormous amounts of the stuff, and I expect it a couple of weeks before it starts. But I take so many meds, I am uncomfortable adding a decongestant to the mix.
The funny thing is, this cold always begins with a severe sore throat, which I never identify until the whole cold migrates to my head and my chest. Every year, I am puzzled and even frightened by this horrific sore throat, which makes me feel I can’t swallow anything, not even liquids. I always call the doctor, usually get an immediate appointment; almost always, the doctor’s strep test is negative, and by the next day, the sore throat is gone.
This year, I saw one of the other doctors in the practice, and he gave me some viscous lidocaine. This prescription is exactly what its name describes: lidocaine suspended in a goo resembling nothing more than snot. I am required to hold it in my throat as long as I can before swallowing. It tastes bitter and feels a little gross, but it works to deaden the sore throat, and any other part of the mouth it sits in more than 5 seconds. I only needed two doses before my throat improved, thank everything that’s holy.
Next comes the snorting, sniffling, and snoring, brought on by or exacerbated by my stuffed head and sinuses. Actually, I spend most of the year sniffling — dust at work in winter, pollen in the spring, hay fever in the fall, and this damned summer cold. My sinus pressure eases about the time the chest cold arises, and I go through boxes of Kleenex in this stage. This is where I am now, and while it’s the least painful part of the cold, it just lasts forever — at least a couple of weeks, right over the July 4 holiday.
The chest cold phase of the whole deal involves coughing so hard from the bottom of my stuffed-up chest, I sometimes think I’m coughing up my internal organs. It begins with the stifling, non-productive cough of most chest colds. Usually after a couple of days of this, I settle into less painful hack, but it lasts for what seems like ever.
That is my old buddy, the summer cold. If I paid a little attention when the sore throat starts, I wouldn’t be anywhere as surprised as I always am. At least it doesn’t get in the way of my typing, except for nose-blowing breaks. This is somewhat graphic, but this is where I am right now, and I imagine many of you undergo the same events. None of us are not alone.