Tuesday, October 02, 2012


I've had a revelation, Quad Cities.

The goal of writing this column has always been simple: to one day take over the world and rule it with a cold iron fist while you all do my evil bidding. But I've got to admit, it's sure taking a lot longer than I'd expected.

Don't get me wrong, it's humbling and routinely blows my mind when I get recognized on the street and someone tells me they like this column. But as far as my timeline of global domination goes, I'm clearly behind schedule. By now, I should have amassed a horde of evil minions with enough strength to ensure my victory in the November elections via my three-tiered campaign platform of (a) lower taxes, (b) new jobs, and (c) strengthening our national defense to protect our borders from foreign invaders -- specifically the band Nickelback.

But it's not to be. My minions apparantly just aren't evil enough yet. There's barely enough of you to make a gaggle, let alone a good horde. So where did my diabolical plan go awry? Am I not likeable enough yet? Do I need to write more columns about cats?? Then it hit me.

Heroes have to be awesome -- but they also need to be flawed. If the Mighty Ducks had cruised to the Cup finals with a perfect season, that'd be one boring movie. If Rocky had decked Apollo Creed with one right hook, no one would care. Everybody loves a comeback story, just ask Robert Downey, Jr. If I want to be a truly likeable champion of the masses, I need to be a little LESS awesome.

But I don't have much in the way of sob stories. I didn't have to escape from a lousy upbringing or anything. Curse my misfortune, but I've been blessed with a relatively great life of great friends, a great job, and great luck. There was only one thing I could do to give me the misfortune necessary to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of adversity and straight into your hearts:

I needed an addiction. Little did I know it'd happen so fast.

About a year ago, I got a doozy of a cold. You know, the kind where you go to bed fine and wake up wondering if your soul is made entirely of phlegm. But it was a doozy of a work week that I needed to soldier through, so I stopped by the drug store and picked up a tiny little bottle of nasal spray.

For the record, oxymetazoline is a fantastic drug. I'd love to meet the inventor. And then I'd like to punch him in his nose until it's flat and sealed forever. With just a couple squirts of the stuff, nasal congestion all but disappears. It's truly a wonder drug. I'm a careful medicine user, so I read all the instructions, paying heed to one important part:

"Use twice a day for three days. Do not exceed recommended dosage. Frequent or prolonged use may cause congestion to recur or worsen." It should have been prefaced with, "HEY! STUPID!"

The problem was, my cold didn't lift after three days. It stuck around for a solid week, so what was the harm in using the spray for 7 days instead of 3, right?

A week later, I was feeling back to normal. Well, except for the plugged nose that was inexplicably sticking around. "I know," said the stupid part of my brain, "I'll keep using the nasal spray until it goes away."

Thus began my secret shame of the past year. I've now been going through a bottle of Sinex a week. I use it about every 2-3 hours. If I don't, within an hour my sinuses will be 100% plugged up. I have bottles hidden in my house, car, and my desk at work. Most days I'm unable to taste or smell a thing.

I never honestly thought I'd say this in my life, but I'm a drug addict. And leave it to me to pick the least interesting drug possible. But if I don't use the spray, my nose plugs shut and I sound like a cartoon escapee. If I use the spray, I spend the day with a runny nose and a face buried in Kleenex. And I wonder why I can't keep a girlfriend.

It turns out nasal spray addiction is honestly a real thing. The scientific term is "rhinitis medicamentosa," or rebound congestion. One search online reveals several support groups and websites devoted to it. I read a post from one guy who uses Afrin every fifteen minutes. Another from a lady who's abused nasal sprays for over twenty years.

Thankfully, I speak to you now from the other side of the fence. Somebody get me a chip, because it's been 7 days since my last spray. As a result, it's also been 7 days since I've been able to breathe through my nose. Remember my concern about sounding like a cartoon character? Well, apologies if you called the paper last week and heard a guy say, "Heddo. By nabe ith Thane. How can I heb you?" Supposedly the rebound congestion starts getting better after a week or two, so I'm hobing -- I mean, hoping -- I'm through the worst of it.

Just like nastier drugs, they say the temptation to "use" again is strong, and they weren't kidding. You know a couple ago when I quoted the back of the bottle? I had to do that from memory. I know there's a bottle in my bedroom, and I could have grabbed it and copied the directions verbatim, but I really don't know if I could hold a bottle of Sinex in my hand right now without using it. This might be the most Captain Obvious statement of all time, but not being able to breathe sucks.

I'm well on my way to fine, but for now, I feel like I belong in a PSA going, "Dod't uthe nathal thpray, kidth!" Honestly, they DO work well, provided you're not an over-medicating idiot like your faithful columnist. But I got into this situation thanks to my own stupidity, and hopefully I'm gonna crawl out thanks to my own intelligence. And fortitude. And other equally impressive character traits that will make you realize how cool, awesome, and heroically flawed I am. Vote Shane 2016! Now fly, my minions, fly!

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