Some time ago (as in, in 2003), I described my approach towards illness:
- Denial. Denial is key; many, many illnesses will lose interest and go away if they are denied vehemently enough. Ignore symptoms—“That’s a nasty-sounding cough” “It’s the dust.” “We’re in a clean room.” “It’s the, uh, lack of dust.”. When the symptoms become impossible to ignore, deny the root cause—“I am not sick. Not. Sick. It’s just the dry air, you see.”.
- Ignore it, and it will go away. This is when I don my older sibbling hat; others may choose to mimic ostriches or right-wingers. Do not give in, do not repent. Do not suppress the cough, ignore the cough. Chloraseptic spray is a talisman of defeat—swallow the pain of that sore throat. The feverish dizzyness doesn’t prevent you from walking, does it? There is no sinus-pressure-induced migraine.
- Blitzkrieg.Sometimes, the above is not enough. (We here omit statistics, as they make me look really dumb are largely irrelevant.) In cases such as this, a constant battery of eichenesea, vitamin C, decongestants, cough suppressants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and water will usually do the trick. Unless it doesn’t, in which case step four will likely be required.
- Activated charcoal / kidney dialysis. (Optional.)
And, you know, that list hasn’t changed much! Except that I learned sometime between then and now that the dosages listed on medicine bottles (especially paracetamol-free cough solutions, like most Robitussen) are really more guidelines than anything else—the toxic thresholds for most drugs are ridiculously high. So step three also involves drinking a lot of cough syrup and lying horizontally, feeling really, really peaceful.
(I’m not sure if that’s the worst part of being ill, or the best.)
[Paracetamol—a.k.a. acetaminophen, a.k.a. Tylenol—is actually one of those over the counter drugs that you can kill yourself with pretty easily. 1 gram tablets aren’t hard to come by, and the toxic dose is about 150 mg / kg. You can kill most adults with about twenty Tylenol administered over the course of a few hours. There are quite a few Tylenol suicides for this reason, but it’s actually a really bad idea. I’m not clear on the details, but the basic paracetamol overdose plot goes like this: you take a bunch of pills, you get really sick, and then you feel a lot better. Except, you’re not actually better. Your liver is in the process of shutting down, and at this point, there’s not a lot anyone can do. Which sucks, because by now you’re probably in a hospital surrounded by loved ones and not really in much of a suiciding mood.
Which is all to say: if you’re going to get fucked up on Robitussen, make sure it’s the stuff without acetaminophen/paracetamol. Fortunately, all this stuff is conveniently listed on the label. Mine says, “Dextromethorphan HBr 15 mg” Glug.]