May 302011

Allergies suck. Having a cold sucks. Laryngitis has not paid me a visit in years, and it sucked too. I always think people with chronic illnesses or injuries like traumatic brain injury ought to have a get-out-of-being-sick card.

Having a stuffed nose, being sneezy, feeling the postnasal drip drip drip, coughing from the throat and fearing it might start from the lungs if asthma kicks in, is all misery inducing. But when you also suffer from fatigue as a result of your chronic illness or brain injury, when you grow weak quickly, and when you take a long time to recover, past the time others would be bouncing off to work again, being sick or suffering Spring allergies is like an extra insult, another obstacle to overcome. It’s tedious and dispiriting.

I’d grown complacent because I had grown much stronger over the last couple of years. There’s an internal sense of strength that you’re probably unaware of until you lose it then get a little back every so often. The first time I felt it grow — I kid you not, I physically felt it — was when I started to take Cold-FX as a preventative measure. I was already taking Flonase, a steroidal nasal spray, which kept my nose and sinuses happy and so me too. But it never gave me that feeling of increased internal strength. I don’t remember how many years ago I began the Cold-FX; the Flonase was in 2001 after the series of homemakers who came to help me gave me cold after cold instead and after my GP said I had traumatic rhinitis, a stress-induced condition. It was a godsend, but it had side effects, namely water retention and bleeding nose when I didn’t need so much. I don’t care what doctors say, nasal sprays and inhaled asthma medications with steroids in them are absorbed into the body (causing water retention on top of brain-injury induced water retention) and don’t just stay where they’re working.

Anywhoo. After I started the Cold-FX, slowly, slowly I became less prone to catching a cold; then after I met the trainer who explained to me how brain injury induced exercise intolerance, I no longer caught colds. Even seasonal allergies were minimal. So this year I was complacent. You wouldn’t think I would be after that odd skin virus I got this past January, but in my head colds and allergies were different. Oy!

At the end of April, I became weak; I felt like I was fighting a bug. I inhaled the Cold-FX, which for me meant taking 2 or 3 capsules per day for two or three days, and chewed lots of Vitamin C. I recovered without actually expressing whatever virus I was battling. Over the years I had developed many strategies to prevent myself from catching a cold. Chief among them: stay away from sick people. So what do I do? I sat next to the person I’d identified as having the contagion. This time I lost the battle. I got laryngitis. And as I was recovering from that, my Spring allergies sprung up. Misery loves company, so it was mildly comforting to see half the population (though no one I know) suffer from the worst allergy season in years along with me. But I have been fighting these two things for an entire month. The laryngitis lasted a few days, but as usual recovery takes its time, and having allergies didn’t help.

On the other hand, unlike previous times, I did not have to stop exercising completely. I missed a few sessions, but for the most part was able to maintain my routine, albeit for shorter times. I have not yet returned to my previous levels, but I’ll get there I hope by next week. And I didn’t become completely couch bound. But as usual, I fell way behind in my get-things-done list Luckily though a routine appointment had been cancelled for much of this month, and I didn’t go to other routine events. It helped me conserve my energy and have it for some online activities. But it’ll be a good day when I only have to cancel things, tasks, and exercise during the actual time I’m sick, not for weeks after.

So please do your chronically ill or brain-injured friend a favour: when you have a bug, even if you feel well enough to get out and infect others, stay away from us. We can’t afford the deeper down time. It sucks.

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