On Walking Pneumonia, Failed Eighth Grade Presentations on Afghanistan, and my Addiction to Cough Drops

As I wrote in In Which Ella Gets a Fever for the First Time in Two Years and In Which Ella Sounds Like a Seventy-Year-Old Man With Emphysema, I am sick. Whoopee.

I am still talking in a very husky voice, which unfortunately, does not sound alluring in the least, but my cough has gotten much worse. It makes my whole body shake, and I am reminded once again that it actually *is* possible to break ribs from coughing too hard. The cough sounds rather croup-y and rumbly and not at all like your standard, I’m-unwell cough. I have a history with walking pneumonia*, and everything that has happened so far matches up perfectly to the disease. Only this time, I’m planning on getting it treated before three months go by and it really bad.

Let me explain.

In eighth grade, I thought that what I had was just a weird virus that left a lingering cough. But the cough kept getting worse and worse, and my voice, hoarser and hoarser. It got to the point where people in other classrooms were getting distracted by incessant coughing. The day before my mother finally decided that it was serious and I needed a trip to the doctor, I had to give a twenty-minute long presentation.

We had read Suzanne Fisher Staples’ Underneath the Persimmon Tree and had been assigned a project of our choosing on Afghanistan. I decided that just like the characters in the book had, I was going to wear my brand new shalwar kameez and matching scarf that my dad had brought back from India a month earlier, and teach a lesson about Afghani culture. I had made a poster with maps and pictures carefully cut out of National Geographic, but when it came time for me to present, everything fell apart. I was coughing up a storm, making it near impossible for me to get a word in edgewise, and when I could form one, it came out as a very pathetic wheeze.

But despite the fact that my teacher kept offering for me to sit down and do it another day, I soldiered on until I got through all of it. I don’t think anyone, let alone me, heard anything I said, but they all very kindly listened as I enthusiastically pointed at the poster and hacked up a lung. Because I had also turned in a script with the poster, I miraculously got an A, and was still that I was fine when I got hauled into the doctor’s office that afternoon.

But I am not going to be so stupid this time. If the past five years have taught me anything, it’s to stick up for yourself and for your body. If you think that there is something going wrong, there probably is, and doctors work for you and not you for them. It’s okay to have a false alarm or catch something still in its infancy. They actually don’t like when a patient comes in with a sickness that could have been cured over a week ago.

So if this cough sticks around tomorrow, I’m headed to the doctor’s office posthaste on Monday.

Also, I have been very, very, very well behaved and not used being sick as an excuse to eat copious amounts of cough drops. When I was around ten, I would go through more than a pack every week, even when I wasn’t experiencing coughing or a sore throat. I was a regular cough drop connoisseur, and the Riccola sugar-free lemon ones were by far my favorite. However, it was when I ate an entire pack in one day, that my mom put her foot down, and I had to quit. Just like caffeine**, I’m proud to say that I haven’t had any in years, no matter how great the temptation.

*I spelled that right on the first try. Do not feel obligated to have a federal holiday in my honor for recognition of this stupendous achievement.

**Okay, that’s not entirely true. I did drink a Coke on my seventeenth birthday and a Diet Dr Pepper (They recently got rid of the period in dr. for some strange reason.) when I was sixteen, all within the same three month period, but that’s been it for many, many years. I swear.

For the month, you can find me updating my word count on NaNoWriMo here. (I need to do it more regularly so that it doesn’t become flat for a few days, only to receive an enormous spike, indicating that I somehow magically wrote about twelve thousand words in one day.)

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

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2 thoughts on “On Walking Pneumonia, Failed Eighth Grade Presentations on Afghanistan, and my Addiction to Cough Drops

  1. When I lived in places with more winter than California, I used to get an annual cough. I’d get some minor cold, and get over it but the throat would feel tight and I would cough, which irritated the throat and I would cough more. I tried using cough drops, and syrup with no effect and it wasn’t until I found that cinnamon hard candy acts like a cough suppressant that I was able to shake it, and at least there’s not much in that but sugar.

    I keep some in the medicine cabinet these days.

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