I’ve been sick for three weeks. I can’t say that I’m happy about it.
Now, it’s nothing life-threatening, like COVID (I tested. Twice.), or chicken pox (Eek!); it’s just a cold. And truly, it’s not even that bad. But it is sick, and that is something that I haven’t been in a while.
Cue the whine track.
My theory is that right here, right now, I am suffering from what one might call a floundering immune system. Yes, yes, I’ve been stuck behind a mask for almost 2 years, and a little dirt and germs do wonders for the mojo, but I suspect that there is more to my floppy T-cells.
Remember that little bout with E coli this summer? I believe I spared you nearly all the details there, because I’m not a monster, but let’s just say it wasn’t fun. And it certainly left me with, to put it mildly, a destroyed gut. And since we know the immune system is inextricably linked to gut health, well, I guess it makes sense, doesn’t it? The floundering immume system?
When I was in the hospital, laying abed with my new friend colitis, a treasure hand-delivered by my uppity buddy E coli, I think I assumed I’d just get better, and move on. Beat down the E coli, recover from the colitis, and be on my merry way.
(Cough cough) That’s not exactly how things unfolded.
When I saw my very own doc a week after my release (he’d been tuned into reports from Room 319 the whole time), you know, for the debriefing, he naturally asked how I was feeling. Not the greatest, to be honest, but by the end of that week, it occurred to me that not only was milk still not sitting well, I just plain wasn’t digesting it. I mentioned this to my helicopter-doc, and it turns out that lactose-intolerance is quite common after E coli. Who knew?
I guess that makes sense, too, though, considering my entire gut was stripped out, ‘gutted,’ if you will. Like a long-abused home. Not only did all the furniture and knick-knacks get booted (and let me tell you, nary a knick nor knack was allowed to remain), but the very structure was stripped down to the studs. Lath and plaster? Gone. Flooring? See ya. Homey green wall-carpet? Floral wall sconces? Built-in shelving with Great-grandpa’s lost jacknife and Granny’s missing buttons? All ushered out in the deluge.
What I’m saying here is that everything that once lived happily in my gut was gone, flushed if you will. My entire eclectic and marginally-cooperative microbiome, evicted. My highly-evolved community of lactase enzymes, just chillin down there with their backs to that shag wall, listening to LPs, waiting for their next dairy-ful meal, ousted. And me, just wanting one more bowl of ice cream.
Well, ever since, I’ve been working to rebuild the troops down there, and have lived in ever-rotating states of a dairy-free diet. There were things that work (cultured) and things that most decidedly did not (Uncultured). No matter what, though, things were not the same. It’s like I’m living with someone else insides. I can’t say as I’m a fan. This guy smells funny.
So, Around the same time I got this cold, I cut all the dairy out, mercilessly, like the savage that I am. Maybe with some rest from the moo-juice altogether, and enough help from my arsenal of probiotics and prebiotic torture-beverages, things will start to come together and that ragtag group of bacteria down there will start looking like army they once were.
Progress report: It just might be working. There are finally signs slow victory, signs I won’t share with you. I’m still not a monster.
Nevertheless, I don’t think my innards are, yet, what one would call healthy. And, as the theory goes, I think this apathetic GI bunch may be at least partially responsible for not only admitting this rhinovirus beast, but allowing it not one, but two distinct rebounds. Come on now. Let’s be reasonable.
OK, enough about my lower digestive tract.
Let’s talk about sinus rinses.
Seriously, have you had the pleasure?
Rebound The Second took the sore throat, sniffles, and hack that it inherited, shoved it all northward, and ushered the age of Queen and David Bowie on repeat. My face hurt. My jaw hurt. My teeth hurt. The grump was growing. I, being the astute one that I am, lived in denial of the sinus pressure for nearly a week. I was convinced that my jaw was in a state of revolt, and that my beloved chiropractor’s aggressive attack on said jaw was more than it could handle. I’ve just never had sinus pain on the SIDE of my face before.
Alack and alas, my jaw is actually just fine, and my sinuses are stopped up like corked wine bottles. It took the pressure migrating to my ears to wake me up and stop my rage against the man.
“Huh. Interesting. Maybe this IS my sinuses.”
But what to do? Decongestants send me to another realm I’d prefer to never visit again. Not an option. Massaging my sinuses (what a treat) is mildly effective, but slow going. But, ah… there is always the neti pot. Good LORD, do I hate the neti pot.
Not to be bested by fear and hatred, I pulled up my big girl panties and irrigatied my brain in a wash of saltwater. Lo and behold, one little rinse provided some much-needed relief, along with indisputable evidence that my jaw is just fine. And I might owe my chiropractor an apology.
And so I irrigate. All day long I irrigate. These are fun times folks, and if you’ve never experienced the otherworldly experience of a sinus rinse, know that you’re missing out on one of the finer points in life. Or you’re just damn lucky.
If you need me, you know where I’ll be. Queen and Bowie be damned.
You’ll notice that my images bear no resemblance to my writing today. Because I’m not a monster. You can thank me later.