I am technically still alive, though there was a moment there, when I was tearing my clothes off in the middle of the night due to a sudden and intense hot flash that I remembered the Miami naked face-eater and thought in terror, Oh no! I’m going to eat Mike’s face!
Later, the illness progressed into bronchial spasms, and I was at the end of my rope. I could not stop coughing. The coughing was so intense I’d just be gagging and coughing and gagging and coughing, tears streaming down my face. I have to tell you, I don’t think I’ve been sick like this ever. Late last year my mom had a brush with pneumonia and still has a nebulizer and albuterol, so I found myself with at-home treatment without having to leave the house. Without it, I would have been at the urgent care clinic and out several hundred dollars.
At some point someone asked “Why aren’t you taking Robitussin?” Now, most over-the-counter cold remedies are bullshit. They are usually just combinations of drugs like Tylenol and a decongestant, which is great if you want to take meds and not think about it, but I have a specific combination of things I know work for me. I am a devoted believer of guaifenesin, which in the US is sold under the brand name Mucinex. Guaifenesin has almost no side-effects, and functions only to thin all mucosal secretions on the body. This means that coughing is easier, that nasal congestion is less thick, and if you’re into this sort of thing, vaginal secretions are thinner and theoretically can make impregnation easier. Let’s ignore that last part. Anyway, most of these combination cold drugs have a small amount of guaifenesin in them, and I want to take a full dose, but that is impossible if I’ve already taken a partial that was bundled with a bunch of other meds. Does this make sense? Forgive me, it’s been a long week. Well, week and a half. So yeah: a long week.
Anyway, Robitussin. Dextramethorphan, specifically. I don’t know why I wasn’t taking it, I suppose I assumed it was too side-effect-y or something and in my sick state ignored it. I remedied that, started taking some and behold! It totally knocked the bronchial spasms down by at least 50%, certainly enough to earn me a few solid hours of uninterrupted sleep, something I hadn’t had in days. On Tuesday I felt well enough to return to work, and midway through the day started in on a minor coughing fit again. I took a dose of Robitussin and felt better.
Until about three hours later, when I started to freak the fuck out.
So basically, I had an allergic reaction. These allergic reactions don’t have to happen the first time you take the drug, they can happen any time, and in my case, this was I think the 6th or 7th dose I’d taken over the about three days. The reaction presented as a sudden sensitivity, so I began to have all the symptoms of someone who had overdosed or taken 10x as much Robitussin as I had. And if you know anything about drug use, you know that people intentionally overdose Robitussin to get high. My eyes dilated, I had combination hotflash/chills that felt like effervescent bubbles up and down my body, my perception of everything became hyperaware and distant at the same time. I was panicking internally, but for some reason playing it totally cool, like nothing at all was wrong. My co-workers were unaware that I was having a medical event. Eventually I began to feel that my throat and cheeks were tight, and called my mom. I honestly wondered: should I call an ambulance? Was I about to go into anaphylactic shock? We decided I wasn’t, but I still had to ride this hilariously awful Robofry high to the end. The intensity of the reaction began to lessen after about 30 minutes, though the physical sensations became what I can only describe as “gross”. My teeth felt rubbery, my throat and mouth both numb and tight at the same time. Skin was desensitized and dusty-feeling. By the time I felt okay to go home¹ I was wiped.
So let that be a lesson to you. Don’t try to feel better.
¹ Mike was not in town and I didn’t want to go home to an empty house if I was going to need medical attention, so staying at work seemed preferable.June 7th, 2012 | Drama!