Most people think this is somewhat batso, but it seems to at least keep me from getting as acute a version of the annual pestilences. Woke up this morning with my throat feeling like I had been belting out death metal love ballads all night after attending a Husky game. When it became evident that I was going to get sick, I engaged my cold remedy. Cold, flu, don’t know and don’t care which; if it produces congestion, this is what I do.
My first act is to pick up the telephone. I call Round Table Pizza, and instruct them to send me immediately two extra large pepperoni pizzas with chopped garlic and jalapeños. If I’m pretty nice to them, they may put on a little extra (yet another reason to tip pizza guys and gals). When it arrives, I consume as much of the pizza as possible (I’ll heat it up and eat off it for two full days).
I also make green tea with lemon, and steam myself in the shower, and Nyquil myself to insensibility at night. If I cough, just plain Robitussin, no antihistamines.
The pizza achieves several things. For one thing, I’ve done it enough times that it’s sort of a conditioned signal to my system: call out the reserves and mobilize for battle. We aren’t taking this lying down. For another, it’s good for morale; the pizza is good, and it feels like I’m doing something about it, which is better for your attitude than ‘yuck, I’m sick, I’m so miserable, I hate my life right now.’ The jalapeños are just about sure to clear out my sinuses, and while garlic’s mild antibiotic properties aren’t really in play against a virus, it does generally boost your immune system and is quite healthful. (It’s also good for others’ health, as no one will get within five feet of you after eating all that garlic.) What is more, you just poured a remarkably noxious substance over the system invaders. Gonna hang out here a while, eh, you little varmints? Okay, fine. Have a drink on the house! I can almost picture the viruses saying to each other: “You idiot! Why did we ever let you book this trip? I’m never using that travel agent again! We’ve died and gone to Naples!” Yeah, enjoy. Come back if you ever need another toxic sludge lesson chez moi.
What I don’t do is suppress symptoms, except to sleep at night (rest being essential), or unless there’s a severe fever. As I reason it, the symptoms are your body’s way of fighting back. Why hamstring your body? Hell, fuel it up for heavy fighting. I go through a lot of handkerchiefs (I have about thirty, so it’s not like I have to reuse them, and they don’t chap my nose as much as dead trees). I drink lots of milk, eat lots of cheese, everything that is supposed to make you have to blow your nose more. My body’s playing bouncer and I certainly am not going to bar the door from the outside.
Does it cure it? Of course not. Does it lessen the acuity? It certainly seems to. Does it make it more bearable? Yes and no. I might feel less lousy during the day if I suppressed the symptoms, but I think I’d stay sick longer. I’d rather have three days of major suck than five days of medium suck. I just seem to rebound quicker with less chemicals and more just fueling up my body and letting it do what it was designed to do.
My bride thinks I’m a lunatic.
She might be right, but the ability to do this is a luxury. Other times, it’s okay to just suppress the symptoms. I was marketing my editing efforts at Orycon one year, in company with Randy Hayes of House Chaos Games, when I got a miserable cold. It was either throw away all that preparation by both of us, or bull ahead and try not to be a mucous machine. Had it just been me (I wouldn’t have been doing it, probably, but besides that), I might not have done it, but I couldn’t let down an old friend of nearly forty years willing to drive three hours each way and donate his whole weekend to helping me and evaluating my marketing approach. So I dosed maximum doses and didn’t stick around for the evening room parties.
My wife happened to be out of town, but I suspect she also would have thought I was a lunatic in this case.