February 28 '98
Of Sickness & Health An Uncommonly Bad Common Cold
I count myself among the fortunate souls who are seldom sick. I have been blessed with a certain measure of health which may or may not have anything to do my choices to refrain from alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, and illegal drugs. Other factors to consider may include my choice of a heterosexual lifestyle and the ability to find appropriate means to deal with stress, such as working on a newsletter to disassociate my thoughts from the worries and cares of the day. Yet, having stated my choice to relieve stress by writing, you may wonder why I write so much about the ordinary things I encounter. Afterall, such events do comprise much of the cares of the day. Perhaps, writing down my thoughts enables me to view the situation from a different perspective, or the very act of rethinking certain activities may be the stress reducing factor. It should be noted that the possibility exists that none of the above actions directly influences my health, though I consider it highly unlikely.
It seems that over the past few decades, I have rarely missed a day's work due to illness. That does not necessarily translate into my having not been sick, rather it should be understood that my sense of responsibility associated with my work is strong enough to compel me to work whether I feel like it or not. I cannot understand how some people, with sick-pay benefits, can believe it is alright to take a sick-day just because if they do not take it they stand to loose that time off. I believe this mindset corrupts the intent of the sick-day policy, and all persons who claim unneeded sick-days violate the spirit of the agreement. It must surely contribute to a lack of productivity on the part of the company or organization. The costs to fund such a sick-day policy is ultimately passed on to all consumers who use the services provided by the company or organization.
Tuesday the 17th, I recall my wife telling me that she was sorry I was feeling poorly, as I prepared to leave home for a few days of work on the road. I also remember stating, I wished I felt a little worse, for had I felt slightly worse I would've stayed home from work. It is difficult for me to stay at home, knowing I am expected to be at work. I have to be quite sick in order to believe I am justified in missing a day's work. I suppose my work ethic might be simplified to something along the lines of, "If you can still crawl to work, you are not too sick to work."
The illness I referred to in the prior paragraph is an uncommonly bad, common cold, at least that's my diagnosis. I awoke on Valentine's day with a throat irritation. When I first realized my throat was irritated, I attributed the sensation to, perhaps, having slept too long breathing through my mouth. I have a mild sinus condition that prompts me to take a pill each night before I go to bed. It seemed logical to me that my throat had become irritated due to a stuffy nose. By lunch time on Saturday, I realized I might be getting a cold. Most of the illnesses I have had have been bouts with a cold or flu. I have learned to look for a pattern at the onset of an average cold. Usually these begin with a sore throat, and quickly give rise to swollen sinus cavities resulting in the air passage through at least one nostril being blocked. Sometimes, after several days, the cold symptoms subside, and within a week the body is back to near normal. I have heard it stated that an untreated cold will last seven days, and a cold that has had some doctoring will last a week. My experience has taught me that both conditions are correct.
Occasionally the course of a common cold is altered by the cold "settling in the chest." This usually prolongs the time required for the body to return to normal and may result in a person developing the life-threatening ailment called pneumonia. So far, I have never had pneumonia, but I have had a few chest colds.
Returning to the progression of my current cold, which began on Saturday with a sore throat and had by Sunday morning given me sufficient discomfort to prompt me not to try to sing the congregational choruses and hymns in the morning service at First Baptist. You might know, I would have a sore throat on a day there was ample congregational singing and not one of those mornings when the congregation only has one song to sing.
Sunday afternoon, Barbara and I visited Aunt Jo, who insisted on doctoring on me by giving me some antibiotics to take with me to Greenville. I began taking the antibiotics Sunday evening and by Monday evening much of the inflammation in my throat had disappeared. The throat was better, but my sinuses were worse. I used a lot of facial tissues Monday afternoon at Lewis Grocer as I struggled to keep nasal passages clear.
Tuesday was by far the worst day since Saturday. My sinuses refused to drain, seemingly content to shift alternately from the right sinus cavity to the left sinus cavity, all the while causing the area under my eyes and alongside the base of my nose to appear flushed and swollen. My eyes burned frequently, and from time to time I felt as though I had a low-grade fever. My clothing seemed to irritate my skin, and the muscles in my legs and back burned with pain. Upon leaving the store in Hattiesburg, I went straight to the motel room and collapsed on the bed, knowing that I would succumb to sleep. The muscles in my back and legs could not have been happier with my decision, for they cried out with joy when I stretched out on the king-sized bed, still wearing my windbreaker, clothes, and shoes. After a two hour rest, I felt somewhat better, though the redness and puffiness of my face had not diminished. I knew I needed to eat something, but I did not feel well enough to be dining out, so I drove to Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), picked up a chicken pot pie, and returned to the motel room to eat it.
Mom always fed us chicken noodle soup whenever any of her brood had a cold. It does seem to have some therapeutic value. Since I did not know where to find any ready-to-eat chicken noodle soup, I figured the pot pie at KFC would be a good substitute. It was very satisfying to all involved senses. The internal temperature of the pot pie must have been well past the 180 degree temperature at which McDonalds kept their coffee, until sued by some idiot who sat the coffee in her lap, spilled it on her tender parts, then sued McDonalds, for serving her hotter coffee than she wanted. That frivolous lawsuit still gets me riled up whenever I think about it. I am just as outdone with the jury for finding in favor of the plaintiff. The next thing you will hear is someone suing a popsicle distributor for keeping popsicles so cold that their tongue froze to it when they put it in their mouth.
There is something about using the word Mom (previous paragraph) that caused me to remember something she used to say about Dad.
It went something like, "Your dad is not often sick, but when he is, he thinks nobody has ever been as sick as him."
I hope my wife does not say something similar about me. I don't think I convey such an impression to others, but according to the bard, we all lack the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us. I don't think that's something we really want. Neither am I too sure we want others to possess the gift to see us, as we see ourselves. Now, that I am chasing a rabbit, I, just this minute, wondered how the blind see us. I don't have any blind friends to ask, but how do you suppose they see us. Of course they do not see with their unsighted eyes, but they are able to visualize us in their minds. I guess, my question also asks, if blind persons are able to see others in a fashion similar to how we see someone on the other end of a phone conversation. I suppose each of us has spoken to someone on the telephone, perhaps numerous times, but have never met that person. Yet we have the ability to visualize how that person appears. Our visualizations often prove to be ineffectual in portraying someone's likeness. Haven't you met a phone friend and been amazed that they did not look anything like you had imagined? I thought you might have. So, what do you think, do blind people create visual images of others? Do they visualize persons they know as fat or thin, old or young, attractive or plain, or do unsighted individuals picture us as featureless, shadowy images in shades of gray?
(If you observe a shift of the verb tense from past to present tense, it is a result of my updating this article on a daily basis.)
I have begun to reckon time by the length of this head cold. It is now the evening of the fifth day of "the bad cold" of '98. I may be getting better. At least, I have not hurt as badly today. My sinus congestion has been at tolerable levels with only occasional trips to the Kleenex tissue box. I actually felt safe leaving the box in my car today. A slight redness remains in the areas under my eyes and extending from the cheeks to the nose. However, my voice is quite hoarse or raspy. Too bad, it cannot be described as sexy like the voice of a certain, pretty, female, movie star of many post war and the Fifties' films. You remember whom I am referring to don't you? Good, 'cause I don't, but it will come to me by the time I get this to my readers. (See the answer on last page of this issue.) A slight cough has also been noticeable, but is being kept in check by a Robitussin Cough and Decongestant liquid medication.
Day six of my bad cold saw little improvement in my health. One sinus cavity continues to create havoc with nasal air passages. There seems to be no relief in sight for this malady. Thankfully, I have no fever, and the redness in my face seems to have subsided. My voice continues to be raspy, and I still have a dry cough that is infrequent, but occurs often enough to remind me to take a dose of Robitussin. It was just yesterday that I could not remember the name of the raspy-voiced actress mentioned in the preceding paragraph, but her name came to me as I was about to enter a restaurant this evening. No, there was no association with the name of the restaurant, it is simply another case of allowing a thought to bounce in and around the conscious and subconscious areas of the brain, a little bubbling up, if you please. That memory recall took slightly less than 24 hours, others have required several days.
I long to hear myself speak again without feeling that my head is inside a barrel or without having to painfully articulate each word, in order to make myself understood to hotel clerks, waitresses, and others with whom I am conversing. One night this week, it took three tries to make chicken pot pie sound unlike eight piece chicken dinner. Beats me, how those two sound alike. All I know is, it's a good thing I did not have to write it down, or I might have accidentally bought the business. I'm telling you, I cannot write. Why, I may have to start taking sermon notes on my computer, in order to read them when I get home.
The seventh day of my cold was a fabulously beautiful day. I actually felt much better than I sounded. The congestion of my sinuses along with the hoarseness of my voice kept me sounding far worse than I was. There were no aches, no sinus pressures, not even the tip of my nose was sore from tissue burn.
I have kept the inner part of the base of my nostrils saturated with Vicks VapoRub, and this may have contributed to not having a sore nose. By the way, does anyone know if Vicks was ever labeled Vicks Salve or VickSalve? All during my childhood, I heard Mom speak of grabbing the VickSalve at the onset of a cold. Mom would have us young 'uns swallow a glob of it before going to bed. Later, if the cold settled in our chest she would rub it on the chest area, apply a warm bath cloth or flannel cloth to the area, then pin the cloth to our night clothes and have us sleep in the contraption. Yet, if you read the label of Vicks VapoRub it clearly states not to swallow the ointment or put it inside the nostrils. So, either the name changed or the rules of application changed over the years. Anyhow, day seven was not to be the last day of my bad cold. My travels from Waveland with stops in Gulfport and Hattiesburg before heading to Pontotoc, found me reaching for Kleenex after Kleenex as I tried to blow the sinus drainage from my system. Within a half-day's period, I must have used two-thirds of a box of Kleenex Juniors.
It is now the eighth day of the bad cold and while I am far from being back to normal, I have felt surprisingly good to have driven into Pontotoc just before midnight last night. Personally, I have had this cold entirely too long, and I feel that with your having read this much material on somebody else's cold, you have had it long enough too. Let's close this article with the understanding that if I don't get better, you will read about it in the obituaries.
Flattop and Dobro Music Appreciation - Country Style
On Thursday, February 5, my older brother and his wife drove up, from Florida, to spend the weekend visiting relatives in Pontotoc. Fred and Betty set up base camp at Aunt Jo's house. Saturday night Fred, Betty, and Aunt Jo joined Rayanne, Anson, and Merilese, along with Sarah and Felicia for a gathering/ feeding at my house in Pontotoc. After dining on burgers with all the trimmings, Fred and Jason soon found their way into the living room and began tuning up the guitars.
The times that Fred has visited us without bringing his own guitar, electronic amplification equipment, and fiddle are rare. He presumed I still had Dad's fiddle in Pontotoc, but I have had it in Greenville where I hope to learn another song or two over the next year or two-progress has been slow. In fact, I have not had the fiddle out of the case but once. It was not long until I heard my small Gibson flattop and Jason's Dobro strumming out Country Music numbers. Jason is not "into" Country Music, but if you play music with Fred, you either play Country or nothing. Barbara Mandrell certainly has more going for her than Fred, but my brother has been "...Country, when Country wasn't cool" for more years than Ms. Barbara.
Fred strums the guitar like some folks eat, in that every time his elbow bends, his mouth flies open, but he ain't eatin' nothin', rather he is gonna spit out some Country sounds. When the women had cleaned off the table, the rest of the group migrated to the living room, where everyone listened to the music. Some of us joined in, on familiar tunes, and for the ones we couldn't sing, we'd rock and pat our foot to the rhythm. I did some of everything except play any musical instrument.
I don't know how many songs Fred has in his repertoire, but it must be several hundred. I have a few favorites that I enjoy hearing, and so does Sarah. Sarah always requests the tear-jerker called "Be Careful Of Stones That You Throw." As for me, I will request any Hank Williams tune that Fred remembers. Jason, who sings in some of the rowdy places in Tupelo, seldom entertains us at home, but even Jason contributed his rendition of "Big City Turn Me Loose And Set Me Free." I think everyone except Merilese joined in a Carter's family, gospel favorite, "I'll Fly Away."
We all look forward to Fred's return later this Spring to entertain everyone at the Crausby reunion.
Bodock Beau Culture Shock
Beau tells me that, culturally speaking, America has a long way to go toward being a united people. As long as ethnic groups insist on a separate cultural identity, we will never be more homogeneous than the diverse peoples who once formed the USSR. We may be governed as one nation, but our notion of being one people in the melting pot of a great society has instead become a refinery where distillates are separated by boiling points. Product X is collected, labeled, and sold under different guidelines than product Y or product Z. Beau's point is made in the following story.
A bartender of medium build could scarcely believe what he had just heard from a diminutive patron, so he asked the man to repeat what he had said.
"I'll bet $50.00 that I can make you cry in less than fifteen minutes!" boasted the small guy, as he laid his wager on the bar.
"I'll take that bet," stated the bartender, confident in his ability to overpower the smaller man.
Several minutes passed, and the bartender who had returned to the business of tending bar was caught off guard by the question from the small man, "Hey, barkeep. You seen ol' Boo lately?"
"Boo who?" asked the bartender.
"See, I told you I would have you crying in less than fifteen minutes," stated the small man as he pocketed his easily won money.
Licking his wounds, the bartender wondered how he might win back his money from an unsuspecting customer. He felt he might have the chance he was waiting for when a huge black man, who looked like a lineman for a pro football team, sidled up to the bar and ordered a drink.
After serving his customer, the bartender spoke, "Say, Dude. You are a right smart bigger than me, but I'll bet you $100 that I can have you crying in less than fifteen minutes."
"You're on!" stated the big man, laying his money on the bar.
Several minutes passed, when suddenly the bartender asked the big black man, "You seen ol' Boo lately?"
"Who be Boo?" asked the big man.