Welcome to my world for the past four weeks. Actually, welcome to my dear, long suffering husband’s world as well, as he’s been enduring this as long as I have. Neither one of us have slept through the night for quite a while, thanks to my new friend, Tickle.
Tickle = my cough. It’s the most annoying cough you can possibly imagine. The kind that starts as a little tiny tickle in your throat, and you think that you can delicately give a little “ahem”, clear your throat and move on with your day.
But that is not the case. The “ahem” doesn’t work. The tickle grows in strength like a tidal wave. What felt like a tiny little speck of dust in your throat has now graduated into something that resembles a feather from a feather duster, except a little bigger.
Your eyes begin to water, you can’t speak, the feather in your throat has turned into the entire duster, and still you can’t clear it, because THERE’S NOTHING THERE TO COUGH UP.
And during the day, at work, several concerned coworkers have their fingers poised over 911, certain that I will choke to death at any moment given my recent coughing spasms.
The worst part, however, is the nighttime. Invariably, I wake up at 3am or thereabouts, coughing, choking, sputtering and shaking the bed violently, disturbing my poor husband, who wakes at the drop of the hat anyway. I’m not sleeping. He’s not sleeping.
I have tried Nyquil. Vicks on the chest. Vicks on the feet. Vaporizer. Mucinex. Benadryl, wine, Bailey’s on the rocks, four straight shots of whiskey. (Surprisingly, no relief.)
I try to creep out of bed in the dark, which is almost impossible when you’re as visually challenged as I am, so there’s the requisite fumbling for my glasses, (and dropping them loudly) then finding my robe (after noisily fumbling a little more) and finally (as quietly as I can) trying to make it around the corner of the bed without stubbing a toe or barking my shin on the bedpost. Sometimes I even succeed.
(Author’s note: During one of these episodes, in the hallway, I hit my shinbone so hard on a box that I am still wearing the band aid. True story. Thanks for caring. Maybe the whiskey had some effect after all.)
After days/nights of this, my husband helpfully whispers (when I stumble back to bed) that I should probably see the doctor for my cough so that I can get some sleep. However, I get the impression that he means, “so I can finally sleep, because you’re about as graceful as a monkey when you climb into bed.”
At work the next day, I spend several terrifying moments googling “dry cough”, I raced for the phone to secure an immediate appointment with my doctor. After lots of questions (on her part) and lots of nervous shaking (on my part) she informed me that one of the major side effects of my new blood pressure medicine is DRY COUGHING.
She informs me to stop taking that medicine immediately, busily researches for a moment, then settles on a non-coughing alternative, faxes it to the pharmacy, and leaves. I sigh in relief. No need to wonder how to fit an oxygen tank in my car for the COPD I was certain I had. Dr. Perky sticks her head back in the door, informs me that “Oh, by the way, although a dry cough is not one of the side effects of this new medicine…leg/foot swelling is a possibility.” And smiles.
I breezily assure her that all the exercise (say wha?) that I do at the gym will probably prevent any swelling. She assures me right back that exercise is not going to help, but if my feet get swollen to the point of being uncomfortable, or if my calves start to scare dogs and small children, to give her a call. My mouth is hanging open.
Wait, how swollen are my feet going to get? I ask faintly, but she’s already on the move, surely racing to impart equally good news to her next patient.
I sit for a moment longer, sullenly rustling around on the white paper as I am imagining big old Frodo feet stuffed into my favorite pair of heels, and sigh.
I almost miss my cough.