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Getting a Code
by Amy Kenneley

I have a code…in the head. Excuse me while I sneeze, cough, honk my nose and sound like Elmer Fudd. It is so un-glamorous, isn't it? Your face gets all blotchy, your nose starts to scab from all the constant blowing, your breath comes in gasps.

Your voice sounds like it is coming from a cave. It feels like you are lifting an extra 40 pounds around your chest when you breath. Worst of all, your head pounds and throbs with all that excess fluid in your sinuses.

The Sinuses

I try to remind myself that that fluid represents the poor-worn out carcasses of billions of antibodies who gave up their minuscule lives just to combat my "code." Such willing warriors should be appreciated, but I can't help but wish they would all send up a little signal, a beeping of some kind warning "Dripping Dripping Dripping!" and then let loose all at once.

I would then be prepared with 2 towels and have positioned myself over the bathroom sink to catch all this stuff. Then when it was all over, I would exit, my head cleared, and refreshed.

Here Comes the Rain

No-instead it builds up as twinges, making you want to close your eyes, your mouth hangs open in an idiotic hang-dog expression just so you can breathe, and just as you reach for a tissue or a hankie…plunk! The nose drops a little rainfall on whatever and you have missed the chance to catch it.

I have tried timing the "premium nose-drip continuum" by watching the clock. Yep, every 5 ˝ minutes..I will have to sit here for the rest of the day just to be sure to get that 5 ˝ minute respite down pat.

Perhaps the Asian nations have a better idea - wear a mask and you won't spread your unhappiness. But with my luck, before I could fetch my hankie and yank up my mask to blow, it will have slipped into the white basin. Remember the "dribble bibble" of the old jumping swing for pre-toddlers of the 70's…Even slobber is a tinge better than nose drip.

Mom Germs

It hurts to think. I would like to turn my brain off and give it a rest. But it insists on babbling to me in spite of my giving it the cold-shoulder (pun intended) Worse, it is always something "you'll get over" so there is little compassion from your family. You are expected to carry on regardless.

I tried in the past to communicate to them my germ-filled body was ill-equipped to do chores-- especially cooking. Apparently "Mom germs" are sanitary. Okay-I wash my hands every time I pick up some piece of food, but if those astronauts in space can drop a few nuts into space, what chance have I against preventing the Cold Fairy from striking everyone?

It is times such as these that the brisk command "Carry On!" falls on my ears. Yes, I would love to carry on, but my head is telling me other things. And I ask myself, why SHOULD I carry on, anyway? Isn't an adult owed a little R&R for a few days of cold recuperation?

Old-Fashioned Colds

When I was little, the first sniffle would bring Mother with the Vicks-Vapo-Rub.

She smeared about half the cobalt-blue jar's contents onto a soft piece of old flannel, pinning it bib-like under my pajama top to each side, pressing it well into my chest. Then she would take a big dab of the rest of the jar, and poke it up both nostrils. "Inhale!" she would command. Yikes! If that didn't scare the germs away, nothing would.

Once medicined thus, Mother would arrive with two extra fluffy pillows, place them behind my back and turn on the little Sandman lamp above my small dresser. She would come and sing a little, then read a story, then pretend to blow out the light and assure me the "The Sandman" would soon sprinkle sand into my drowsy eyes for a good night's sleep.

Still drowsy from her bed-time cocoa, I wondered if I stayed awake long enough if I would see that sandman actually reach back into his bag on his back, take out some sand, and sprinkle it down so I would sleep. Try as I might, I never stayed awake long enough for the Sandman to do his trick.

The Wick

Sometime in the night, the dripping began again. Mother had arranged for just such an event, and three of Grandpa's big white handkerchiefs were stashed under my sleeping pillow for nighttime blowing.

But that keeps you awake a lot, too. So I learned to compromise-the hankie would catch the drips, only my hands wouldn't be involved. I stuffed one pointy end of the handkerchief into my Vapo-Rub nostrils, and another one into the opposite nostril. Ah, release at last. I was yet to learn the theory of "wicking" but had stumbled on it by accident.

Throughout the night my nose dripped into the hankie which became wetter and wetter and by morning, I as wearing a wet, white beard. But I had slept like-well, like the Sandman had been there.

In the morning, Mother arrived with the hand to my brow, frowning a little, looking at my red eyes and redder nose, and proclaimed, "I think you should stay home from school today"

Oh Happy Day. I was really sick. I got to stay in bed and perhaps read and perhaps just sleep. Either way, it was acknowledged that you Needed Rest. There were no shelves of cold remedies promising instant relief so you could "Carry On." There was just the blessed comfort of a stuffed pillow and a newly ironed hankie, some cocoa and maybe later, some chicken soup.

So, today I have a code. Don't expect anything from me. I don't want to "Carry On" or anything at all, except stay in bed, sniffle and blow my nose.

Who says you can't go home?

What were your home remedies?

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