Blatherings about the cold

We’ve all just been through another batch of colds. Here I am, over with my cold enough to finally get something productive done. (If "posting-on-your-blog-which-you’ve-hardly-ever-posted-on" counts as productive, that is!)

Caleb was the first one who got it, and then Deirdre–it’s always the youngest that gets it first. It seemed like an especially bad cold. I’m not one of the people who normally gets bad colds–for example, other people who are more prone to that sort of a thing might get a really bad cough, whereas I would only get a mild cough. But this time I did feel pretty miserable. The period in which I felt bad seemed to last longer, as well.

The nighttimes, as it often is, were the worst. The night that Deirdre was getting sick, she kept waking Titi and I (she sleeps in the same room as us) up, making noises like "Uh! uh! uh!". Lots of times when Deirdre keeps us awake at night, it feels like she woke us up every hour, but the clock testifies that it’s actually much less often. This time I don’t think it’s any exaggeration!

One time when Titi came down to her, she claimed she was scared, but I think she was just "saying her lines". (For the longest time, she would get scared a lot at nighttime, so sometimes now it seems like she uses that as a canned reply when we ask her what’s wrong.) It’s hard to be patient with a kid who’s keeping you awake–that’s the last thing on your mind, believe me. But since I was starting to get the idea that she was sick, I tried to be. I’d get out of bed and sleepily murmur, "Whatsa matter, Deirdre?" She never replied, which was extra aggravating. I’d try to just quickly fall back asleep again.

The next day it became quite clear that Deirdre had a cold, and I realized lots of other people did too, including me. Then, that night, Deirdre had croup (a viral infection of the respiratory system, which hits young children). I didn’t think it was fair that she got it again when she had already had it so recently.

I always get scared when Caleb or Deirdre get croup. I lie in bed feeling tense and agitated. "What if it’s something serious this time?" I wonder. I doze until I am woken up with a start by loud coughing, in Deirdre’s case. (I sleep in the same room as Deirdre, but not Caleb, of course.) Their coughing sounds like a seal barking, very deep and throaty, and they usually have jags of uncontrollable crying and coughing. It’s a vicious cycle, with the crying helping the coughing along, and the coughing helping the crying. Their breathing, also, sounds almost wheezy; you can hear a little rasping noise with every breath they take.

However, it really helps to bring them into the bathroom and run the shower until it gets really steamy. I’m not sure how it works, but the steam somehow helps clear up the congestion. Admittedly, it’s only helping with the symptom, not the sickness itself, but it almost always stops the coughing and crying. It often sounds worse than it really is. It’s never been serious for Caleb or Deirdre; Deirdre’s cases have been nighttime only.

And happily, this time was the same. I couldn’t believe how cheerful she was in the morning, when she had seemed so sick at night. She was still sick, but her croup was gone.

This time I was able to sleep a little better than last time Deirdre had croup. Last time, I was the only one in the room with Deirdre, and got up to take care of her whenever she had a coughing bout. (Mom came when she heard her.) This time Titi and Mom mostly took care of her.

The next night, I was the one who was miserable. No, not with croup (ha ha)–my head just felt like it was going to explode. I’m stealing that phrase from Titi, as that’s how she often describes how your head feels when you have a cold. I probably would have been able to sleep through it just fine, except that I kept waking up every hour to go the bathroom. I drank plenty of water that day! I felt very weird in a bad sort of way, and almost light-headed. Rundy told me the next day that it was probably because mucus was getting close to my inner ear.

I actually found myself able to get some things done when I was at the worst point of my cold. At the beginning of the day, because of my cold I didn’t try to get anything done, and just goofed off. But it wasn’t any fun and didn’t feel good, so I decided I’d try not to goof off the rest of the day. To my surprise, I managed to exectute that better than some days when I’m not sick. I seemed to be able to focus better on the things I wanted to get done.

Not that I actually got all that much done. It certainly wasn’t an ultra-productive day, but everything I did manage to do felt like a big accomplishment because I felt so tired. The things I did were such as sweeping the floor, doing my laundry, and planting some badly-needing-to-be-planted zinnias while I waited for my turn in the bathroom.

Normally, I have a tendency to take one thing I’m doing and get carried away with it; for example, once I was up at the garden, I would’ve started weeding my whole garden. But this time, I remembered there were other things I held in higher priority than working in my garden–like writing–and decided not too plant too many zinnias. (As it turned out, I didn’t do any writing. I just helped one of the little kids write an article, which is another thing I wanted to do.)

The next day was a different story, though! I definitely felt better the next day, and yet I was as scatter-brained and unable to get anything done as ever. It’s weird how that works.