Interregnum (Let’s Go Out To The Lobby!)

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.



About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to Interregnum (Let’s Go Out To The Lobby!)

  1. buggybite says:

    I used to work with a practice nurse (the nurse IN a GP “practice”) who maintained that the reason flu injections don’t always work is because they’ve been formulated to deal with last year’s viruses—not the new and evolved viruses making the rounds THIS year. She thought flu injections were a bit of a con, to tell the truth.

    As a former Old Dragon (medical receptionist) I’m not medically qualified to judge, but I know that many of our patients who got the ‘flu jag’ also got the flu. I stopped getting flu jags myself a number of years ago, although I did get the one-off pneumococcal one that’s supposed to protect against pneumonia. So far so good.

    Hope you’re feeling better soon.


    • Kate says:

      My doctors feel the flu shot is better than no protection, and I do agree with that caution.. That said, I know I actually get the flu more frequently these days than I did when I was younger – which was, not at all. I did not catch the flu – by which I mean real influenza, the respiratory disease, not “stomach flu’, which is an urban myth and usually gastroenteritis anyway .. but my cast-iron immune system has developed a few rust spots these days. on the other hand, the pneumococcal shot seems to work well, and I’m glad I got it. You gotta read the research, though – the pneumo is not a one off, and should be renewed every 7 years or so.

      Liked by 1 person

      • buggybite says:

        Seriously? Okay, I will read the research. I was told it was one of those vaccination one-offs, by the nurse who administered it. It did seem a bit too good to be true!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. buggybite says:

    Added: Ah, there seem to be two different vaccines for the pneumococcal viruses …one they call a conjugate vaccine, and one they call a polysaccharide vaccine. That might explain the difference in the advice we were given. (Age is also a factor.)

    The UK mainly uses the conjugate vaccine …which doesn’t require more boosters in adults over 60. It’s extremely effective, but doesn’t cover as many strains of the virus as the polysaccharide one does. The polysaccharide one does usually require a few boosters, but while it covers a wider spectrum, it apparently isn’t quite as effective.

    Not sure exactly what I had, or what you had, but this might be why we’ve been given different advice.


  3. Kathy Allen says:

    You poor thing. I can’t believe you didn’t get the Asian flu of 1968 or so. Everyone and their uncle had that. And worse still, dear Sister Mary had assigned 50 poems to be picked apart and analyzed over the time I was sick with my 103 fever. I was sobbing over them when my kind brother in law (a college English professor) said, “OK kid, let me give you a hand,” and we staggered through J Alfred Prufrock and his ilk. Get well soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate says:

      Ah, the famous Hong Kong Flu! I remember that IHHS was a ghost school – most of the student body was out with the flu, and at least half the teachers. We had nonstop study halls because there weren’t enough representatives of anybody to have a proper class in anything. My mother and Kimberly came down with it; I did get it, but not until the last day of some vacation or other – I bussed and walked home, arrived raving with fever, and completely recovered by the time I had to go back to school. WITH J. Alfred Prufrock in hand, as the lovely Mrs. Cano had given me a “special” assignment: compare the “Love Song of J.A.P. to Hamlet.” What a creative nightmare; I think the fever helped. But it was a vast injustice. BTW, one of the reasons I got that punitive assignment was because La Cano caught me writing notes to YOU!!! She decided I didn’t enough to do.


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