Monday, December 04, 2006

COLUMN: Sickly

Ah, yes. The holiday season is upon us already. Once again, chestnuts roast on open fires while Jack Frost shovels snot out of my nose.

That's right, we're just an eyeblink past Thanksgiving and I've already caught the inaugural holiday cold. Forgive me if I'm not my usual jovial self this week -- I fear I'm a bit brain-addled. Do you see that picture of me that runs with the column? Just imagine that, but with a Vicks inhaler stuck up each nostril. Yes, there's nothing like a little phlegm to really boost the sex appeal.

The other day, I was talking to someone who had a nasty cold. In fact, that's where I probably caught this beastly one from. Anyways, that person -- and you know people like this, you might even be one -- said to me, "I never take any medicine when I get sick."

This person clearly is insane. I, on the other hand, am SO sane that I'm crazy. My bathroom cabinet rivals some of the best medical facilities on Earth. You name the malady: if there's an over-the-counter cure for it, I own it.

Don't believe me? Fact: Among the items in my medicine cabinet, you can find a tube of Preparation H, a bottle of saline solution, and some Primatene Mist. Another fact: I have never had hemmorhoids, contact lenses, or asthsma in my life. But heck, just like the Boy Scouts, always be prepared, I say.

My cold-fighting regimen begins with the dreaded Tickle. The second that the back of my throat itches, I'm off to the health food store. This should be a column of its own, as the sight of me in one of those places is about as natural-looking as me in Victoria's Secret. Shane and health food simply do NOT get along; but Shane and amazing herbal hocum-pocum is a relationship to behold.

I've never been one to fall prey to scams. I'm smart enough to know that I can't make a million dollars overnight in real estate like the infomercials tell me. I know that dialing 1-900-whatever will NOT give me an accurate psychic reading. I know that no pill on Earth will make me lose weight as long as I sit on a couch all day.

That said, I will tell you with the utmost of confidence that most of the colds I start to catch can be warded off by quickly taking a tablespoon of Elderberry Syrup. This probably has as much scientific backing as alien abduction, but it completely works. Trust me.

When I was a kid, my mom had a subscription to Prevention magazine. Prevention is like Scientific American for the hippie herbalist sect. If there's a weed growing in your backyard that has the off-chance of curing leprosy, you'll read about it in Prevention. In fact, I imagine the writing staff of Prevention to be folks who just wander around in the woods, sticking random bits of nature into their mouth to see if suddenly their ills are remedied.

Some of it is proven science - just ask the ladies at Heritage Natural Foods, where a simple question about homeopathic medicine can result in a junior alchemy lesson. Some of it I raise a wary eyebrow to. Beware the logic that runs like this: "I've eaten dog poo every day my entire life, and I've never developed psoriasis. Ergo, eating dog poo prevents psoriasis!" Needless to say, thoughts along this line leave a bad taste in my mouth.

But medicine doesn't just exist to remove my symptoms; it's there to make me feel pro-active. Sucking on a zinc lozenge might not have any effect on my stupid cold, but at least it makes me feel like I'm fighting it. Were it not for herbal whatzits, I'd just sit there and be miserable.

Actually, though, zinc is the ONE thing I won't do; after you take one of those lozenges, everything you eat for the next day tastes decidedly zinc-y. Eww. Instead, this time I'm trying the zinc nasal spray, which you shoot into your plugged nose to make it feel... more plugged, I guess. But at least I'm being pro-active.

This particular illness, however, the herbals didn't cut it. The cold rained down like, umm, cold rain (hey, YOU try to think up similes when you're sick.) So now I'm pulling out the big guns. Advil. Sudafed. Syrups that end in "-tussin." And that stuff tastes so gross, it HAS to work.

Yet right now all I want to do is suck down some chicken-noodle soup and snuggle under a blanket with my cats and some really bad TV. And hey, I called in sick today, so I can do just that.

Ho ho stupid ho.

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