Monday, December 13, 2010

What The Hell Is THAT?!

Deb: Flu season is upon us and my husband and I have both had what I would call “flu light” for the past week. It has not been a picnic but neither has it been too invasive. We have eaten our meals, had our wine with dinner, done our work, Christmas shopped and decorated. Our symptoms have amounted to a combination for each of us of the following: nausea, sore throat, coughing, headache, fever, achy body.

But as I get older and things change in my body I am hit more and more with the “what the hell is that?” syndrome. You know the drill. You are going along with your flu, everything is status quo and you have the checklist of symptoms running through your mind. Tight sore throat––check! Stuffy nose––check! Itching? What the hell is that? How does itching fit in?

In the summer I had a cold with all the usual old cold symptoms and I woke up one day and couldn’t touch my face as It was puffy and tender. What the hell is that?

Last night we were going out to a festive gathering at a friend’s home and the only symptom I had left was my cough. On the way there I was overwhelmed with nausea and had to get out of the car and walk in the cool air. What the hell is that? Nausea was supposed to be over. Once a symptom has reared its head it should have the decency to go away and stay away, am I right?

Then at the party the area of my kidneys started to ache like mad and cause me no end of panic. What the hell is that?

And now when I get a cold, somewhere between the Otrivin and the Buckley’s my tongue becomes covered in cankers. What the hell...

There was a time when I knew where I stood with my flues and colds. I could rely on them for their orderly escalation. Sneeze. Oh, here we go. Tight dry throat. Makes sense. Totally stuffed up with tired itchy eyes. Yes I was expecting that. Starting to cough, tight and dry. Yep. Loosening up. Okay. And done.

But as I lay in my bed at 4:30am last night pumped on Buckley’s, I thought, “Well, at least the damn ITCHING is taking my mind off my cold." What the hell is that?

Barbara: This reminds me of the time when my husband and I were driving somewhere together and I was complaining about these weird, allergy-like symptoms I was having.

Phil has always suffered from allergies and I’ve watched him sniffle, sneeze, wheeze, and itch for hours. I’ve waited while he searched in desperation for his Zertec or whatever medication he’s using at the time. And I’ve sighed with relief when his symptoms finally abated and he could breathe freely again. Man, have I been happy I don’t have those awful allergies, the bane of “normal” life amongst the ragweed, dust, mold, and pets of this world.

Then this one weird day, I was feeling strangely coldish without actually feeling I was getting a cold. It suddenly occurred to me that I might be getting allergies—after all, I was manifesting just like Phil does on any allergy-ridden moment, add to which I’d just heard that apparently people can develop allergies in their older age. Had I succumbed to this unfair and random suffering?

Phil asked if I had a slightly stuffed nose––check. Did I have itchy skin––check. Were my eyes sore––check. He kept listing symptoms and I kept getting more and more distressed. I didn’t even notice when he segued to rather more … unusual shall we say symptoms: could I feel my root follicles, was my back warm, did my chin hurt. When I check, check, checked them all in abject dismay, he got that wicked twinkle in his eye … and suggested I was a little too gullible for my own good. My CHIN hurt … really?! I relaxed and accepted the fact that I was NOT the victim of later-in-life allergies (if ever the victim of my husband’s good-natured teasing and probably some––to Deb’s point––more unusual cold).

Now, Deb, I am NOT saying your symptoms here are imaginary or sympathetic, but your post did remind me of my little tap-dance with hypochondria. What the hell is THAT?


  1. Hope you feel better. I have had the flu and it sucks so very badly. Now I didn't have the regular flu. I had the stomach flu and it lasted for two weeks,I had it just a couple weeks ago. I coulnd't eat or drink,I couldn't even stand I was in so much pain. The weird thing was it even went up into my sides and ribs. Weird,I thought it was suppost to stay in my stomach. Anyways,I am just now being able to eat like I use to before I GOT the flu. I don't usually get the flu that's why when I got the flu it was weird cause I never really get it in the winter.

  2. Oh no! I hope you're over all of it soon, Deb. But I know what you're talking about. I've just experienced it. I had something like that flu lite or superbad cold (whichever) and as I was on my way out of it, I developed the most horrendous post nasal drip. As in choking in my sleep. What the hell was that? Colds used to inevitably morph into sinus infections, but this was different, new and not in a good way.

  3. I certainly do understand the concern that weird symptoms you've never experienced before bring to mind. In my case it's only been since someone close to me (Mom) was diagnosed with terminal cancer; before that, I never thought twice about anything that I felt. Now, the first thing I think is "Could it be ...?" It's horrible. You know it's probably silly, but you can't help yourself. The unthinkable has become possible.

    As for psychosomatic symptoms, on the day I got that phone call about Mom, I developed for the first time in my life an itchy rash on both arms and by the next day my eyes and face were swollen (maybe from salty tears) and itchy, and that lasted a week or more. It was horrid (my eyelids are now so droopy that my eyelashes hold them up! Mom said this commonly happens to Scandinavians anyway -- Norwegian and Swedish in my bloodlines -- but I told her I was laying this one at her door. Deb I'm doing the face-muscle exercises in hopes they'll help)(my ex-husband, meeting me in a hotel lobby when we exchanged kids for a weekend, did not recognize me when I walked right up to him).

    My husband, distressed, took me to a country doctor, who said "It's the shock and stress; all I can give you is a sedative." Then my husband took me to a city doctor, who said "Shock and stress can't cause these symptoms; it's an allergy," and suggested an over-the-counter antihistamine.

    My body now manages to confuse me on a regular basis. And piss me off. I tell myself not to be mad at it, that it's doing its best. Then I thank it for the overall wonderful job it is doing, and has done. For the sexual pleasure, the beloved children, the soft skin and shiny hair!

    I think now that shock and stress can trigger allergies you've never had before. One time years after that post-diagnosis chaos, I bought a box of Neilson's chocolate treats and sat at my desk eating them, not paying attention to the fact that I was overdoing it, and the next day I had the swollen shut, itchy eyes thing again. Nothing was going on emotionally and those chocolate things were the only thing I'd overindulged in that was unusual. I checked the ingredients list and saw they had sulphur or something in them. Suspicious.

    I do think our bodies reflect something going on in our lives, but sometimes for the life of me I can't figure out what that is.

  4. Well, Lyndsie, sounds like you and Deb had kinda the same thing.

    Lisa, I so had that awful nasal drip thing once, too. Horrible!!!

    Oh, Kate, so much here to ruminate on. So confusing, isn't it? From the psychosomatic to the actual weird flues to the post-traumatic. I lost a quarter-sized circle of hair (from the top center of my head) 6 months after my good friend died of cervical cancer. So my body manifesting pain and stress. Love to all.

  5. lumps, bumps, itches, aches, pains, and stray hairs. What the fuck is that?!?!! >:(

    Love you ladies.

  6. I have adult allergies and got them when I painted my house when I was thirty. Now they are seasonal and come in March/October.

  7. oh my god. welcome to my life.
    loved it.
    loved it.
    i don't know what you have, but it makes me feel better.
    love you.

  8. It's so nice to see that everyone experiences what the hell is that!!! Right now, I am in my trailer on a shoot, as sick as a dog. All I can hear from the other rooms is coughing and spewing! Everyone is so sick. I still have two scenes to do and I am slowly losing my voice. What the hell is that! But I have my good friend "Buckley's with me. He will help me through it. cough, spew, sneeze,cough pee.

  9. There is nothing worse than Buckley's, is there? BTW, if it doesn't work, get to the hospital. You have pneumonia.

  10. ACK! I think colds and flus are getting smarter in response to the medications we use to fight them. We think of THEM as the enemy... but think of it from THEIR perspective! *shifty* (can you see my defense mechanisms not admitting I'm aging?) Seriously though... until I'm much older, I've resisted shots, as I think our bodies need practice fighting this crap (unless you work on the front lines--health care and teaching)

    Barbara-I'm cracking up at your husband!

  11. It's funny Kate, but I have come to like the Buckley's! I guess cause I know it works. But not to worry. I am sick but not scary sick. Just need some sleep. And yeah Hart, we don't get flu shots for that simple reason. Got one last year-the HINI cause we were going to Africa but we don't get it otherwise.

  12. I only tried it during one sudden-onset illness, and it didn't work (by oh my god it tasted terrible! that is no joke! you LIKE it? queer duck. well maybe it's possible to acquire a taste for ANYthing), but it turned out I had bacterial pneumonia. But lord, how do they make Buckley's taste that bad? They must do it on purpose. Put iron filings in it, or something.

  13. Hi Kate-It didn't work? What the? You know it's only for coughs right? I can't imagine it would work for a sudden onset illness but who knows? I do not like the taste let me make that clear. Yes I am a queer duck but for other numerous reasons.:-)
    It's just that I am over the taste. I know it's bad but it sooooooooo does the trick for me. And you're right, it sure wouldn't work for pnemonia!!! I am sure I will be okay in a few days. My ribs are so sore from coughing I can't even breath!

  14. I kept getting those flu lights, and were they frustrating. Not ill enough to take a day off, but ill enough to be miserable all day long for days on end.
    Someone told me to try having a glass of warm milk with turmeric powder last thing at night- it may be working.
    Hope you get better soon.

  15. Sorry you've been sick, Deb. Katie is right. Please be careful that it doesn't develop into pneumonia - esp. if you aren't able to draw deep enough breaths.

    Kiddo and I are both home sick today, too. He's on the mend, and I'm on the way down. It's hot tea, honey, and lemon all day for me.


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