Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Social Pariah Strikes Again

I'm coughing again. A lot.

I no longer have eosinophils in my blood, but the coughing has become progressively worse over the last week. I don't know why.

I do know that I am, once again, a social pariah. With the heightened anxiety over swine flu, the public reaction is far worse than last year.

Yesterday, I had two different cashiers ask me, "Are you sick?" in an accusatory fashion. "Yes, I guess I am, but I'm not contagious," I answered. Or maybe I should have just said, "No, but I just have this annoying cough." Or maybe I should have asked, "What happened to 'Have a nice day.'"

This evening, I couldn't stop coughing during the WriteGirl PlayWriteGirl Event at the Pasadena Playhouse. Teen girls wrote monologues and short skits during a day-long workshop, and professional actors from film and television brought their words to life. Before the show started, I offered a preemptive apology and explanation to the woman sitting next to me.

Once the show started, I tried to stifle my coughs and let them erupt during clapping. And I was fastidious about covering my mouth with both hands.

I noticed that each time I coughed, the elderly lady sitting in front of me moved her program to her left ear. The first time, I thought it was a coincidence. Then she did it again and again. Soon, she wasn't moving the program from her ear. This passive-aggressive act made me so intensely uncomfortable that I apologized to my friend and left before the program was over. (Of course, that meant climbing over a dozen legs and then hopping over a chair to make my escape.)

I'm thinking of getting a few buttons printed:

- I do not have swine flu.
- Ask me about my EOS.
- Cough 'til you drop
- No thank you, I do not want a cough drop.
- I'm sorry.


Anonymous said...

Man, I hope you find out soon what it is and get help! So sorry you were not able to enjoy the evening...

Lisa C.

susiegb said...

Hey Susan - I have a problem with coughing too! I don't know if you can get them in the States, but the one thing that really stops me coughing is these little 'lozenges' called Fisherman's Friend! They are extremely strong menthol, and they were the only thing that stopped me coughing during a choir performance of The Messiah last November! I now carry them with me always, and will resort to one if necessary! They're originally English - and there is a website - that might tell you where you might get them in the US?!

Anyway - that's my suggestion - to try them if you're able! :)

Susan C said...

Thanks, Lisa.

Susie, Well, their ad says, "It works and you can't beat the taste," so I will have to give these a try (even though I haven't found a cough drop that works yet). They're available at my local CVS Pharmacy. Can't wait to give them a try.

Trish said...

join the club. My coughing is up and down, but is still very noticeable as well. I've noticed people veering away from me too. I want a shirt in 400pt type---I don't have H1N1, but ask me about my cancer, my EOS and my lungs thankyouverymuch!

Something they taught my Grammie when she had a constricted esophagus and coughed a lot---stick out your tongue to relieve the strain on the throat. Tempting, isn't it, to do it at that lady in front of you at the PP!?! Covering your mouth or rolling your tongue up in your closed mouth to create the same effect works well. It also works with less social effect of being accused of being 5 years old and sticking out your tongue at folks who are socially inept.

One friend actually DID print out little cards to show or hand people when she was coughing up a storm and there was a TB outbreak. It was a teaching opportunity that not every cough is TB and that not everything is what it seems.

So sorry you missed part of the evening---sounded like it was incredible.

altadenahiker said...

Well now, I've heard your cough, and it's a very quiet little thing, and doesn't sound at all as if a cold or flu is involved.

Honestly, this just makes me mad. And it makes my WV mad as well: Suckepy.

Susan C said...

Trish, Thanks for the tip. I'm sticking out my tongue a lot now and people are really avoiding me.

AH, My cough has intensified since you last saw/heard me, but it really is suckepy.

pasadenapio said...

I've heard your cough, too, so if it's getting worse I'm concerned. Something is happening. The doctor has done testing?

Trish said...


I told you to cover your mouth, or roll your tongue up inside your mouth...I WAS groomed to be a Rose Queen!!! I have *some* couth!

just an fyi, I've been told allergies are REALLY bad this year, as is asthma, which can exacerbate any EOS issues. Which may explain away some of my EOS issues...hoping we're both just highly reactive!

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Thanks for coming out to the event. So sorry you had to leave early, and even more so about the increase in coughing. I hope relief is on the way soon!

Ronni Gordon said...

I'm coughing too! I have some cough syrup with codeine but it doesn't help that much. My feveer went away so the doctors are not too impressed with the cough; they think it's probablly because my airways got irriated with I had the infection. Anyway, it sure is frustrating and I hope you get some relief soon.

Anonymous said...

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chibi said...

when i get took 1 month for me to cure..and it always happened again 2-3 months later..i hope my problem gets solve..but thanks god..i have no serious problem bout my body :)

Whitemist said...

Funny that people are SO concerned, I cough also, but for a slightly different reason (Double intibation and know acid reflux, mostly controlled after by brain tumor removal).) I have not had that reaction, but could. Pay then no mind, get better!

Petrea said...

I'm sorry your cough has gotten worse. Did the Fisherman's Friend help? Come hang out with me. You carry(er) many things I'd love to catch.

Gabriel Popa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jane said...

hi Susan! did you see a doctor? maybe your allergic to something. when your coughing try to have a candy that has mint flavor I think it will lessen. bye take care.