Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beating back the creeping crud

Well, it's that time of year. The central heat is on, the sinuses are getting dried out and irritated, the cold air is upon us, and the germs are moving in and taking up residence in those poor mucus membranes.

For the first time in years, I have bronchitis. And why do I think I got sick? Well for starters, just last Wednesday I was boasting about how I never even catch a cold anymore- not in several years. Never do that.

Seriously though, what causes people to fall ill with a cold, or bronchitis, or the flu- anything contagious is the combination of these 2 factors:

1) exposure
2) susceptibility

We can only control #1 to some degree. Unlike the Japanese, people in the US don't wear a face mask when they are ill. And we certainly don't stay home. We go to work and "power through," which sadly just makes the illness last longer. And spreads it to everyone around us. And if someone in your house is ill, it's pretty hard to not be exposed to it. And do you ever think about the fact that you've never seen anyone in a train station or an airport clean things like door knobs and chair handles, which are touched by hundreds of people daily? Yeah, we're going to get exposed to germs. And that's all part of keeping the immune system awake and useful.

But susceptibility, there's something we have some power over. Our daily habits make us weaker or stronger. What we eat, how much we sleep, whether we get enough water and fiber and vitamins, how happy we are, whether we get sufficient exercise.

I actually felt the sore throat coming on last week, but I "powered through" because I had things to do, such as rehearsing for several gigs this week. Now, sadly, I'm canceling those gigs because I'm SICK... because I didn't rest when I knew I should, and I went out in the cold, damp weather multiple times with a sore throat. Stupid. But I own up to my part in this- I've been overworking for 2 years now, hardly ever taking a day off, and that, my friends, was dumb. I made myself very susceptible. In fact I'm lucky it took this long for me to end up with bronchitis.

So, I'd like to share with you what I'm doing to kick it.
  1. Ear oil. Make your own ear oil: http://tinyurl.com/5cjbfo
  2. Umcka. homeopathic cold cure. i started it last week but forgot to take it Saturday because I was too busy" gigging. This stuff usually works really well for me- if I feel something coming on, I start taking it, and it never becomes a full-blown anything.
  3. echinacea
  4. vitamin C
  5. rest
  6. water
  7. raw garlic
  8. cold-eeze (zinc)

We'll see how fast I can lick this. Meanwhile, the most important lesson I take from this experience is this: If you have to pee, and you also have to blow your nose, pee first. Trust me on that one.

{12/16/11 update: it only took me 3 days to get back on my feet- shortest bout of bronchitis I've ever had! I don't know whether to thank the Umcka or the ear oil, but it's one or both of these, because the other things in my list have always been there before, and those bouts of bronchitis always lasted 10-14 days. I'm back! If I had to get "normal people" sick (as in "just" bronchitis), at least it didn't last- and it didn't make my lungs close up like it did 8 years ago. Onward! We now return you to our regular postings about gum, gluten, and other random topics.}

Carla Ulbrich, The Singing Patient