Hoosier Winters, On the Nose‏

We like our traditions here in northern Indiana: For instance, it’s traditional for us to get sick every fall and winter. All of us.

I’m as traditional as the next guy, assuming the next guy is a Hoosier, so a few years ago I decided to take it up a notch. No annual cold or flu for me, no sir! I tried strep throat but didn’t like it very much, because without a voice I couldn’t whine. So, I went for the sinus infection. Sure enough, it became as traditional as that bowl of can-shaped cranberries nobody eats at Thanksgiving.

Then I started getting three or four of them every winter—sinus infections, not cranberries. Turns out not all traditions are so great.

Now, I’m not going to go into detail about my sinus surgery, because the details are all disgusting. I once wrote a column about my prostate biopsy, and that set a high bar, but a sinusotomy has it beat. The recovery period was nothing but two weeks of “ow” and “ick”.

Still, when it was over I basked in the knowledge that my chronic illnesses would soon be a thing of the past.

Then I caught a cold.

That cold immediately settled into a sinus infection.

See, here’s the thing: It takes from twelve weeks to a year for sinuses to settle down and actually improve after sinus surgery. Until then, you’re just as prone to problems as you were before. Although by the end of a few weeks my breathing seemed better, that just made it easier for viruses to work their way up and have a party. And it was a wild party.

My wife looks after my health, by which I mean she keeps me warm, feeds me good food, and lectures me. “Drink lots of fluids. Are you taking extra vitamin C? Don’t forget the fluids. Here’s some hot tea with honey, and Echinacea. Are you drinking fluids?”

“I think I hear the dog calling your name.”

The dog wasn’t. In fact, the dog was laying at my feet, because he tends to stay close whenever he thinks I’m dying.

My doctor had a more aggressive treatment in mind. When he learned I had still another sinus infection, he gave instructions for the nurse to bring a certain type of antibiotic. The nurse replied, “Let me remove the breakables from the treatment room first, and bring in some restraints.”

Possibly I should have seen that as a warning.

My doctor is an old military man, and he explained his reasoning. “We need to keep at this until all the dogs are dead.”

“Wait, what? But I like my dog.”

“I don’t mean literally. I used to say we needed to keep at it until all the cats are dead, but people complained.”

Apparently dog owners are more laid back than cat owners. That makes sense, as dogs are more laid back than cats.

The nurse brought in two needles. “This is going to hurt.”

“No problem.” I pulled up my shirtsleeve.

“That’s not where we give it.”

I had to lay down on the treatment table—on my belly, which tells you where the shot goes. I couldn’t just bend over, because apparently this shot sometimes makes you faint. She put the first one in.

“Hey, that’s not so—aaaaauuuuggghhhhHHHH!!!!!!”

“Okay, now let’s do the other one.”

It took a day and a half for the pain to ease. I couldn’t crouch down. I couldn’t climb stairs. I couldn’t sit back against anything. Two days later I went back to the doc, who gave me a careful examination.

“Well, we’d better keep at this.”

He meant two more shots. I knew this because of the way the nurse winced when he said it. I have to admit, though, she’s got a really strong grip for patients who try to run away.

Meanwhile I still got the antibiotics by pill, which have their own issues, but at least they don’t cause people to reminisce about when they got stabbed in college. Eventually my own stabbing, the stabbing pain in my forehead, began to ease, and as I write this it’s down to a four out of ten, with watching a presidential debate being ten. The treatment was working, and metaphorical dogs and cats were dropping like flies.

Then my wife caught my cold.

I sat her down on the recliner and brought her a cup of hot tea and a box of Kleenex, while the dog laid at her feet in what I can only call a faithful deathwatch. Then I said lovingly:

“Drink lots of fluids. Are you taking extra vitamin C? Don’t forget the fluids. Here’s some hot tea with honey, and Echinacea. Are you drinking fluids?”

And that’s when she threw the Kleenex box at me. She’s a pretty good shot, too—hit me right on my sore hip.

Good thing she didn’t reach for the tea cup.


 Bae on Mark during recovery
“What, he’s dying? Again? Can I have his stuff?”
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4 thoughts on “Hoosier Winters, On the Nose‏”

  1. What’s funny is how mucus moves from the nasal cavity to the throat. Could anything be cilia?

    Hope you and your wife feel better soon, Mark.

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