GRANDVIEW, WA –Today is the first day I’ve felt decent since returning from our Oregon vacation. I don’t know if I had an allergy or a cold. I told everyone at church that it was an allergy, because that’s what people want to hear. People really get mad at you when you share your cold.
In truth, doctors can’t even tell you if what you’ve got is an allergy or a cold. The symptoms are the same. Your nose leaks like a toilet with the handle stuck. You’ll likely end up with a sore throat and a cough that may last through mid-July.
With either ailment, your friends will eventually turn on you. Your spouse will become more annoyed than sympathetic. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a room, sitting in a recliner surrounded by wads of spent Kleenexes. You’re holding a TV remote, but the TV hasn’t been on for hours. Your mind is entering another dimension, somewhere between light and shadow, between science and superstition… You’re both sick and over medicated.
I tried three different cold and allergy medications over a period of a week. I gave each of them two days to work. One of ‘em was supposed to loosen my mucus, one was supposed to dry it up, and the third promised to do both.
One thing they were each good at doing was adding to my problem of irregularity. I wasn’t surprised, because it said so right on the box. “May cause constipation, diarrhea, headaches, nosebleed, a desire to jump off a tall structure, an unnatural craving for pancakes, a horrible fear of pancakes…” If any of these symptoms occurred, I was to contact my doctor, immediately. Possibly meet him at I-Hop.
I don’t know which medication worked, but one or a combination of ‘em did the trick. My nose quit running… as did my bowels. I also began having trouble sleeping. But Kay took care of that. About an hour before bedtime she gave me a melatonin pill, a “natural” calming agent that would help me sleep. If you stick the word “natural” on a quart jar of sand, you could stand outside Walmart and someone would pay five dollars for it.
But, let’s forget that. – I took the melatonin, and just like Kay said, after about an hour I began to get sleepy. So, I walked into the bathroom to brush my teeth before bed and found Kay standing at the sink getting ready to dry her hair. Seems she forgot to put on her shower cap before showering. I once stepped into the shower while wearing my left sock, so I was not taken aback by her behavior.
What did take me aback, way aback, was the sound of Kay’s hairdryer. The second she turned that thing on, it sounded as if I was standing on a runway next to a 747 that had just taken off. I stooped over, put my hands over my ears and yelled for Kay to turn it off, which she immediately did. Then she put her hand on my shoulder and asked what was wrong.
Turns out, her hand felt like a branding iron to my shoulder. I was going nuts. I didn’t like sound, didn’t like to be touched, and I wasn’t feeling all that happy about the light in the bathroom. I don’t know if it was the melatonin or the combination of everything I had taken during the week. Whatever it was threw my brain for a loop.
After apologizing to Kay, I staggered out of the bathroom, heading for the bed. Before climbing in, I located the earplugs that I wear while mowing the lawn, and plugged up my ears. Then I crawled into bed and put a washcloth over my eyes, because even in the darkened room light was somehow getting past my closed eyelids. The last thing I remember was the feel of Kay’s kiss on my forehead. It wasn’t nearly as painful as a branding iron.
That was the second weirdest thing that ever happened to me. I have read about people with autism who experience similar sensations, only it happens to them every day. I can now almost imagine what that would be like.
At the moment, I’m right as buttered toast. I’m calm and collected. There’s no sound in this house that sets me off. I’ve always shunned bright lights, but I can sleep without eye cover. Best of all, I still love to snuggle with Kay.
Again, I’m not at all sure what caused my senses to elevate the way they did, but I’m glad it happened. If we are, indeed, the total of our experiences, I have grown a bit. And, I have more questions about the brain than I did before. If the neurons and all the other brain matter inside our skulls can immediately alter our thought processes… cause our feelings to turn on a dime, what does that say about who we are? Who we might be?
Could a doctor give me something that would make me fear butterflies? Cause me to like soccer? Make me give up Cheetos for pickled beets? Get me excited about polka music? Or get me to enjoy the taste of Smooth Move Tea? I really need to be hitting that stuff hard.