Su Lumm: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
All winter my co-workers have been dropping like flies with variations of the annual Aspen Crud, that nasty upper respiratory condition brought in by our faithful visitors.
In The Aspen Times offices they coughed, they wheezed, they burned with fevers, they took to their beds.
Some took the high road, sticking it out with Emergen-C vitamins and lots of fluids, one was nearly done in by antibiotic allergies, others took their Z-Pacs.
My daughter Skye and her husband Steve hosted Steve’s mother for a three-day visit that turned into a two-week pneumonia saga that took down the whole family.
When I finally caught it, it crept in gradually, manifesting itself in complete lethargy and fatigue with a little sore throat here and subnormal temperatures there, the kind that imitates fevery feelings with chills and sweats. Then came the cough and the watery wheezes.
Because of my somewhat rickety health history, I am supposed to keep on top of these things and hence took myself over to Dr. Dave Borchers for consultation and came away with a prescription for Augmentin, a 12-day round of Prednisone for the wheeze and the advice to step up my nasal irrigation program.
As some of you probably know, Augmentin comes in the form of gigantic horse pills that you hesitate to try to swallow without someone on hand to apply the Heimlich maneuver. I have found a way around these pills, other than the unpleasant alternative of mashing them up in yogurt, which is to whap them in half with a screwdriver and hammer and roll them in softened butter. Goes right down. This also works well when giving pills to dogs (cats forget it).
Of course when you’re sick and enfeebled it’s hard to keep up with the details of the cure and this is especially true if you’re on steroids, which I think of as being like a humming bird on acid.
When I first went down 12 years ago, I was on Prednisone for a year and a half, a nasty ride indeed. It screws up your eyes, throws your blood sugar out of orbit and gives you the appetite of Jabbah the Hutt. I porked up to 150 pounds and had emotional Episodes every day between 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. that were so bad people stayed clear of me. Phone would ring. “WHAT!” “Oh, sorry, you’re episoding – I’ll call back.”
You have to wean off gradually and even then if feels as if your bones are bending and breaking like limbs in an ice storm, and even when you’re done it takes another three months to work out of your system.
The 12-day regimen of steroids is, I’m happy to report, a different story. It is true that I am humming-birding, but in an energetic, rather than an insane way. My wheeze is gone, my skin is smooth (long term, you’re covered with vile rashes) and, best of all, my chronic back pain has almost entirely disappeared. It’s just for a few days, but I’m loving it in a jittery way.
I was hoping to be sufficiently energized to get my taxes in order, but that’s asking a lot even of a miracle drug.
I’ll spare you the details of the nasal irrigation – suffice to say I’m drowning in salt water.
Meanwhile, spring is coming. Whatever snow falls will quickly melt and Daylight Saving Time is this Saturday, bringing light to the night.
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