Monday, October 6, 2008

Cough 'til you drop.

I marvel every day at my improved health. I don't take for granted that I can march from the second floor to the basement to throw a load of clothes in the washer, stop to feed the dog and cats on the first floor and still trek back to the second-floor bedroom without gasping for air. Just a month ago, I needed someone to serve me breakfast in bed.

But my cough - my deep, raspy hack - has not improved. It kicks into gear whether I'm lying still or walking or talking and leaves me feeling like a limp dishrag.

Worst of all, it's turned me into a social pariah. Most people, both friends and strangers, are kind and concerned, but I know I'm annoying. "Would a throat lozenge help?" strangers ask. "I wish it would," I reply, "but it doesn't, and I darned near choked on one." I do accept cups of water and snippets of advice. "I had pneumonia too, and I found that drinking the hottest liquid I could tolerate really helped." I'm willing to try anything.

I've discovered that a small percentage of the population can be downright mean. I left an 8-stop East LA Mexican food sampling event after the second venue because I was clearly agitating at least two other people in the group. And, of course, that made me so uncomfortable that I couldn't get out of the birrierias (goat restaurant) fast enough. Today I mouthed "I'm so sorry" to another library patron after a coughing jag, but she was as bitchy as a tough old goat.

I'm trying to balance consideration of others with my own needs to get out, but it's tricky, especially since I'm still without DSL service at home.


Ronni Gordon said...

So what are they saying or doing about the cough? Sorry if you already said; I'm a little senile.

Loved you last post about the beach. It's so great that you can be so concise yet so expressive. Once I get going I can't seem to stop!

How do you do so much with your photos? We're both on blogspot, but all I can seem to figure out is how to place one photo either in the center or top left or right.

altadenahiker said...

Well, what in god's name did that old goat have to be bitchy about? Life in general, I suspect. This is certainly something we can all relate to -- the involuntary, prolonged coughing jag. My most memorable was when I got to sit in with the editorial board (back when they were respected), and midway into story pitches, I started coughing uncontrollably. At first I tried to swallow it, but that just made it explode. I ran from the room hacking. I didn't go back. Should have, no one cared.

Trish said...

Stick out your tongue.

Seriously. It elongates everything and helps open the throat up and slows or stops the coughing, usually.

This is what they taught my grandmother who had a constricted throat many years ago.

Now, if you're in a place that such behaviour might be frowned upon, try rolling your tongue up in your mouth (like you're trying to touch the tip of your tongue to your uvula) and keep those lips closed.

If you've got an old bat like the one in the library, keep those lips open and look RIGHT at her! ;-P

But, do remember that there are folks out there who are immune-suppressed who will assume you are typhoid mary and run for good reason. Think about being a lot closer to your transplant and having someone cough near you. You *could* however, print up a card saying "I'm not contagious, really, I'm just recovering from X, Y & Z, thanks for your concern!".

ronni---you can move the html code around all you want---cut and paste it wherever you want in the post. And you can choose the size an placement in the upload section. Explore a little, look at the Preview, go back to editing, preview some more and pretty soon you'll be a photo blogging pro!

whew...all this work and help---gotta take a nap!

Susan C said...

Ronni, doctors have no clue about how to help the cough.

When you download pictures, choose the "none" layout option, and then you can move and resize the photos any way you like.

Karin, So true - nothing worse than trying to "swallow" a cough. I tried that in the library yesterday after goat's comment, but I started exploding. I'm sure she thought I was doing it to vex her.

Trish, Congratulations! You got me to stick out my tongue in the library.

Yea, I need one of those "explanation" cards, if for no other reason that I'm tired of delivering my little "recovering . . . not contagious . . . I'm so sorry" speech.

Nancy said...

All of you posting comments are very entertaining, witty and clever!!! I'm jealous. You got me to stick my tongue out and roll it up, too. I wish I had a camera on every person who reads your blog. I'm sure they are all trying it.

As for posting photos on the blog, I'll probably never get what you explained. I'm so bad at this, and I do love what you do with your photos. Your toenails are pretty, too!!! : )

Take Care & see you tomorrow.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

This is a tough one: balancing your needs with your desire to be considerate.

I've been on both sides of this dilemma, having had minimantle XRT that left me coughing for a long while and having been immunosuppressed from chemo. As Trish pointed out, sometimes I was that person who was visibly anxious (unhappy) when a "cougher" was in my space, say, sitting next to me on a plane. Yes, I was sympathetic to their plight but also worried for myself.

Then there is the issue of making noise in quiet zones, such as libraries or concert halls.

You are asking what the "right" thing to do is. The best answer depends on your choices in each situation. Finding outlets to satisfy your need to get out that involves as few quiet zones as possible will decrease your stress.

Take comfort in knowing that this situation is temporary. And it is not "you" who is agitating others; it is "your cough."

I laughed when I read Nancy's comment, because I'd tried the tongue maneuver just moments earlier. Your blog may elicit suggestions that work for you.

With hope, Wendy

Ronni Gordon said...

Have you tried acupuncture or Chinese herbs or anything like that?

Nelle said...

I had a bad cough for about six months before, during and after radiation for my chest tumor. Once in the grocery store a lady gave me a look to kill. Finally I couldn't take it and said "Pardon me but I have a tumor in my chest and it's not contagious." She turned to someone else and said "I'll bet." Then I whipped off my scarf to reveal a nearly bald head and she gasped very loudly. I actually enjoyed that. She had been so rude and even then she didn't say she was sorry but another young mother came over to me and said "I will pray for you." and I thanked her. They did give me some red cough syrup with codeine for nights and it worked.

Mrs. Duck said...

Some people who are terrified of people with coughs are physically healthy, but neurotic. One of my kids' teachers would refuse to take papers from any child with a cough or runny nose. Naturally, her students were always coughing!

That old goat you bumped into may have been cut from the same cloth.

I often cough, because I have asthma. You might try saying "it's my asthma ... I'm not sick". People usually believe me (or pretend to!) when I tell them. (Asthma has become so common.)

Or you could do like some Japanese in Japan do: wear a mask when you go out in public! We wondered, when we were in Japan awhile ago, why some Japanese did that. Turns out it's considered terribly rude to blow your nose in public. So some people, when they have colds, pack their noses with kleenex and wear a mask so no one can see!

Or, when you bump into people like that old goat, you can simply smile and say "I'm so sorry, there's nothing I can do about this cough. Antibiotic resistant TB's like that."

Susan C said...

Wendy, it's good to remember that it's the cough, not me, that's the nuisance. It's been hard to separate us sometimes! I cough, therefore I am.

Ronni, I just posted about how I miraculously improved. I don't know if this is due to the "alternate therapy" that I keep alluding to. I'll have to post about it soon.

Nelle, your story is priceless - one for the books. Thank God the goat and your grocery store lady are the exception, not the rule, in our society.

Karen, I'm, of course, the most self conscious when I go for appointments at CoH, where I'm surrounded by immuno-suppressed patients. I always give "the speech" to those sitting near me, and I haven't had anyone slink away.The comment about the TB is hilarious.

Piper Robert said...

If you recall, whenever you would cough, I would gently pat you on the back and your episode would subside. A hug and gentle pat is a cure all for what ails you. Anyway, it sure beats a mean scowl.

Do you remember Grandma's cough remedy? Whiskey and honey. I still remember her going to the cellar to fetch the medicine. BTW, have you tried "sheep nanny"? Grandma made some for Nathan, once. I know the recipe, if you're interested.

Love ya!

p.s. "....old goat...."

hahahahahahahahahahaha Very funny Mrs. Duck.