It began innocently enough. A minor itch. A slight twinge. A little tingle. I started to fret. But maybe it wouldn’t happen this time. After all, I had gotten through other bouts of illness without developing one—maybe this would be one of those times.
It was not to be. At work, I felt the no-mistaking-it tingle heralding the new arrival, and a look in my compact mirror confirmed what I already knew: I was witnessing the birth of the world’s worst cold sore.
Fever Blister. Herpes simplex. It all sounds different to the ear but in the end, they are all the same—a gigantic cootie cluster on my lower lip, half an inch from dead center.
Maybe it wasn’t so much a birth as a coming home, however. After all, the only place I ever, ever get cold sores is in that very same spot. Same lip. Every time. What skeeves me out even more is the fact that despite my OCD antibacterial hand gel application efforts, despite wiping every touchable hard surface at home and at work with antibacterial wipes, despite bathing in Lysol and gargling with bleach, I got one anyway.
Remembering backward, I realized that I had seen a coworker sporting a fever blister a week or two before. The "ewww" factor has been racketed up a notch.
Typically, the day before the spot actually makes its debut there is also quite a bit of pain, especially on the Chris Cacciatore unique pain scale. I'm not saying I'm a big baby but even a hangnail will wake me up at night. Throw a cold sore at me and it’s grounds for calling in sick.
The last time I got a massive cold sore was during a…you guessed it…cold. My defenses were down; I should have seen it coming. I had felt crappy all day at work, and suddenly, my entire bottom lip looked as if a chorus line of bees had stung it in unison. That night at home, the pain was so intense that I was forced to start my obituary.
The next morning, surprised to find myself still alive, I realized that due to all the tossing and turning I did the night during the world’s worst night’s sleep, I had overslept.
For those who have no time for a quick shower, it’s dry shampoo to the rescue. Or so I thought.
I had picked it up on a whim, this Tresemme dry shampoo. I had overheard a conversation while sitting at McDonald's writing one afternoon. It's normally a great place to write because you can tune everything out except this time, when two young women were talking about their hair, it caught my attention, mostly because they were actually pronouncing it "her". That word was accompanied by lots of patting of said "her". The conversation was animated as they discussed hair products but came to a standstill when one told the other she washed her hair daily.
The other said back, "You'll dry your "her" out! Don't do that, girl. Use some o' that dry shampoo. You won’t believe how it perks up your hairstyle on days when you are skipping a day, or maybe you're just too lazy to wash your hair.”
What? A new way to be stylish while still allowing me to be lazy? Sign me up. I actually found some at the store on the way home. Now, normally, I don't take much advice from people sitting in McDonald's but due to the above referenced illness, I’m game...and since I overslept, what better time to try it?
Getting ready for work that morning, squinting through the cloud of agony my lip was causing, I read the directions and applied the dry shampoo to my own "her" accordingly, then brushed it out as instructed.
This is a product that I will never, ever buy again. I have a dreadful feeling it had been moved from the Halloween section of Wal-Mart into the hair section, as it obviously was meant to be used to make white stripes in my hair for a Bride of Frankenstein costume. Despite vigorous brushing, I couldn't brush the white out and ended up with not only white hair but a very pink scalp.
Thanks, random strangers at McDonald's. Moms always said don't eavesdrop and I should have listened.
It worked out in the end, however, because coworkers were too busy trying not to stare at my white streaks to even notice I had a cold sore.