Kage Baker had bronchitis or influenza every winter, for years, with a horological accuracy. Some years we couldn’t tell quite what she had – it was over-layered by whatever Plague was making the rounds at Dickens Fair, which she also caught. But, sure as the equinoctial precession, by New Year’s she was hacking and wheezing and cocooned in blankets.
It made our annual New Year’s trips to the sea for her to bathe in inspiration and ice-cold waters all the more miraculous.
She soothed these yearly failures of her respiratory system with a diet of egg creams, wine coolers, hot toddies and won ton soup. The hot toddies – my recipe – were mostly Irish whiskey, plus sugar and lemons and just enough hot water to hold them all in solution. The fumes alone could empty sinuses. We found out years later that the wine in the coolers made her happy, but was rich with histamines that actually made her sinuses worse. The cream in her egg creams (no culinary euphemisms for Kage) increased her mucus production. I don’t think the won ton soup had any side effects, but … the Chinese restaurant where we bought it for years left a vat of monosodium glutamate as tall as I was on the sidewalk when they moved out. So who knows?
Kage, though, felt that feeling less – which this regimen certainly guaranteed – was just as good as feeling better. So she went on in relatively soggy content through this yearly routine, letting the side effects distract her until the viri ran their courses. None of it killed her. Maybe she was on to something.
Of course, she was a lot younger then than I am now. And while I was immune for decades to this kind of crap, now I catch influenza despite the flu shots – God knows, without the vaccine I’d probably go full Innsmouth and be a gilled, bug-eyed amphibian by 12th Night. However, I also have a weak heart, a tendency to form blood clots, and diabetes. Almost nothing fun, tasty or even distracting is good for me: in fact, my prescription for Plavix (an anti-platelet medication designed to prevent my blood vessels from coagulating solid) warns me (in italicsI that ingestion of any alcohol will stop my heart, convert my liver to beef jerky and condemn me to the cheap seats in Hell.
I am left with heart-safe decongestants; which are almost as safe for the congestion as they are for my heart. None of those wonderful stoplight-red Sudafed we used to toss back in my youth – man, those were like a simoom in your sinuses, you could clear out a whole weekend of Faire dust with ’em! Now, you have to go to the pharmacist, produce three forms of ID plus your first-born novel, and sign some sort of Federal release form just to get 16 measling pills.
Luckily, there is still absinthe, I mean, NyQuil. And chicken soup. And warm blankets. And my Kindle, on which I am currently writing this blog, snug in my furry slippers and with a purring cat beside me … so I may have the flu, but there is still some comfort in this cold, drippy world.
I titled this entry “Interregnum” because I was gonna say I was sick and take five. Instead, I got all caught up in whingeing and whining and carrying on. And, you know what? I feel better.
Thank you, Dear Readers. Go on out to the lobby, and get yourselves some Junior Mints and Bon Bons.