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?