I have been a sniffling, bedridden mess for three nights. My back is on fire, my head feels like Phineas Gage’s must have felt when he was slammed with a railroad spike, and a hard pebble seems to have lodged in the right side of my throat. The only colors in my pale face are the purple smudges under each eye and a tint of feverish pink. Ah, it looks like it’s another unscheduled stop for the Horrible Cold Carnival. I’ve suffered three nasty colds in four months- more than I used to get in a year. What is going on? Where am I picking up these buggers, and worse yet, why are they hanging on for dear life? My normally healthy and resistant immune system has been under siege! My usual 3-days of suffering has turned into weeks of onslaught.
Maybe my propensity for unnecessarily touching my face is making me highly susceptible to all the nasties. Millions of people + el Subte + lurking organisms + hands on the face = COLD OF DOOM. Fat lot of good my portable bottle of hand sanitizer has done. Oh, hang on… you mean I actually have to use it? Dang.
The first time I fell ill I suffered for two weeks. Dos semanas, I tell you! I was convinced that the South American mutations of the cold viruses were vastly different from the mutations in North America, and thus my body was responding to an initial exposure of a previously unknown – to my immune system – form of a virus. Though I would love for someone to validate my theory, I suspect that my line of reasoning was just my angry and aching head trying to justify the severity of my cold. In reality, adeno-, rhino-, and influenza viruses mutate so quickly that one strain, with its myriad mutations, could knock me on my butt many times over no matter my global location.
Irrefutably the absolute worst part of being sick is the aggravating symptoms. As a self-professed flojita, I search for relief in pill form as soon as I feel the first twinge of sinus pressure. To my dismay, I haven’t been able to find anything in the local pharmacies that succeeds at its job; the two brands I’ve tried so far just don’t work like I had hoped. What is it with the Argentine cold meds? The most dreadful of the two turned me into an anxious zombie with a wretched stomach ache while only relieving my sinus problems half the time. I’m looking at you, candy flavored orange pills. Due to Oregon’s prescription-only pseudoephedrine laws- a result of rampant meth manufacturing- I haven’t taken Sudafed or its store brand equivalent in years and was unaware of the side-effects. Que quilombo. Refrianex is proving to be a friend I love to hate, and I’d willingly kill for some Nyquil liquid caps.
Speaking of Nyquil, I won’t touch cough syrup with a 20-foot pole if I can avoid it. One whiff of the horrific substance brings back childhood memories of it spewing out my nose in a failed attempt to swallow after being forced down my throat by well-meaning parents. After nights of persistent coughing, though, Fernando picked me up a bottle of Bronquisedan from the pharmacy, which I begrudgingly tried after much protesting. I plugged my nose, prepared a water chaser, and drank it as fast as I could. Surprise, surprise! Its sabor a miel y mentol is more palatable than the unfortunate fake cherry, alien green or mystery orange cough syrups available in the US. Not that I find it exceptionally delightful, but at least I don’t want to gag afterwards.
It looks like I have found one perk to being sick in a foreign country. And I just saw a commercial for something that looks like my Nyquil liquid tabs… there is hope for me yet.