Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hey, if you got it, you might as well self-medicate

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Why is it that the little things seem to hurt so much? For some reason, I seem to be prone to paper cuts... and those little buggers sure can hurt!

Never mind paper cuts, I recently cut my finger opening a new box of bandages -- true story. At least the bandages came in handy, eh? And just a few days ago, I sliced open my right index finger on a package of gum. Yes, gum.

Don't ever hand me a chainsaw, folks, because I'll probably behead myself before I even turn it on. I'd be the worst-ever serial killer. Grand total of deaths: one. Me.

If gum-induced injury isn't bad enough (and trust me, it's difficult to type with a bandaged index finger), my voice right now is deep, raspy and oh so sexy. Not on purpose, of course, but thanks to a couple of co-workers who returned from a business trip and who brought back a present with them: the plague.

One by one over the last three weeks, each and every person in my office has fallen ill. First, those who were on the business trip... and now the innocent bystanders, including me.

I don't seem to have it as badly as the rest. I take a ton of vitamins and supplements every day, so that helps my immune system stay stronger than most. I also fully believe in treating the symptoms of a cold to the fullest extent of what is available by law over the counter. Translation: I pretty much give myself brain damage by taking every syrup, pill and lozenge out there. If they sell it at a pharmacy, I'll take it.

Now, I realize that doing this is not exactly condoned by the medical profession, but they need to understand that I hate being sick. Letting a cold run its course? Puh-leeze! I'm too busy to be felled by a cold, the flu or some nasty infection. There are not enough hours in the day to do what I need to get done now, never mind if I'm sick!

So, the minute I feel a cold coming on, I walk down the cold-and-flu section of the pharmacy with one arm scooping entire shelves of products into the shopping cart. I start with the mild stuff at first, then mix and match after that. I sit by the telephone with 911 on speed dial and a business card from my favourite funeral home on my lap (with detailed coffin display instructions for my wake) in case I don't dial 911 fast enough.

Luckily, I usually manage to make it through the day unscathed. I feel reasonably good and only experience a few unpleasant side effects, such as a bit of sneezing, a mild dry cough, a scratchy throat and, depending on how much medication I've managed to shovel into my mouth to feel better -- unconsciousness, hallucinations, paralysis on one or both sides of my body, colour blindness, and a blinding headache due to the instantaneous mountain-sized brain tumour that grew in my head. OK, maybe I have to admit that sometimes I overdo it on the over-the-counter medications.

Thankfully, I'm not sick very often, mostly because I have a steadfast rule of not visiting people when they're ill. Most of my family is like that, actually. If one of us is sick, we tell the others to stay away. I'd like to say that it's done with a lot of love and respect, but it's not. It's more like, "Don't come over here. I don't want what you have. I don't care if you see dead relatives telling you to walk toward the light. I don't care if you're crying tears of blood from the pain."

At work, it's another story. When you need to meet deadlines, sometimes it's impossible to stay home. I'm not being judgmental: I do the same thing. I've shown up at work practically half dead with a hearse outside just waiting to take me to get embalmed the minute I drop. I would never dare take a nap at work when I'm sick, because I'd wake up naked on a metal table in the basement of some funeral parlour with embalmers pointing at my you-know-what and chuckling derisively, forcing me to pipe up.

"Excuse me, but I'm in the room!" I love making embalmers scream.

A friend of mine broke his wrist recently and had to have surgery to fix the severe injury. He sent me photos of the aftermath and it was pretty obvious that the break was beyond horrible. It looked like his wrist had snapped in half and that they had sewn it back on. He said the pain was unbelievable... and this is from someone with a reasonably high tolerance for pain. I suppose my paper cuts and colds pale in comparison. I certainly wouldn't want to trade places with him.

I've only broken one bone -- a finger about 35 years ago when I tripped on a tree root while playing Star Trek with my friends. That hurt bad enough, especially when my father decided to start pulling on it to put it back into place because he thought it was just dislocated. (Insert high-pitched girly scream here.) I can't imagine breaking something more substantial. A leg... an arm... a collar bone... ribs... all sound so painful and horrendous that I certainly count myself lucky for only having suffered relatively minor injuries and illnesses throughout my life.

All in all, I'm grateful for being in good health. I'll take the paper cut or mild cold any day of the week over anything more serious. If whatever I have can be cured or made better with over-the-counter medication, I'm truly a lucky man.

But, being a typical man, I'm not a good patient. I'm stubborn and impatient for everything to get better immediately! If overdosing on cold medicine doesn't work, then maybe I could ask someone to kiss my booboo better. I just need to remember that asking strangers for this favour at the mall is frowned upon by society -- and the police.

That reminds me. Does anyone know how long it takes for a restraining order to expire?

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