Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - February 22, 2019


Does "la grippe" have a grip on me?

Itís now been almost two months since I first developed signs of a cold, and Iím still trying to recuperate. Actually, I might be on my second or third "bug." Maybe my body just decided to test out various viruses to see if my immune system could handle them. A century ago, people often referred to a person having "la grippe." Whatever I have, itís definitely held me in its grip! But I doubt it is the flu - thatís the word we use today. I havenít had a fever and my lungs havenít been involved. La grippe originally meant seizure. Nope, not it!

Since New Yearís Eve, Iíve had various symptoms off and on - sore throat, stuffy head, ringing ears, achy body, a "barking" cough, snotty nose and extreme tiredness. Another term heard years ago was catarrh. It comes from the Greek and means "flowing down." That certainly fits as Iíve used up at least four large rolls of toilet paper blowing my nose!

When I was younger, I thought I had to "push through" such things. Not now. Iíve taken time to rest. The cold snowy weather has helped me in this regard. I didnít think asking my body to juice up my metabolism just to wander about in the cold would be a smart thing to do.

Iíve also been dutifully taking a syrup that has a suppressant for my cough and an expectorant to help clear my lungs, an antihistamine for stuffiness, and aspirin for fever and achiness. I saw a doctor two weeks ago, and she said my lungs sounded clear and she couldnít really prescribe anything more than what Iíd already been taking. But I took a turn for the worse and visited her again. This time, she said she thought it might have progressed into bronchitis so she prescribed antibiotics. Weíll see if that does the trick.

But while coughing, I pulled some muscles in my rib cage. Husband Art read an article about rib pain that said I should lift no more than 10 pounds (about the equivalent of a gallon of milk) and should refrain from vacuuming, shoveling and heavy exercising. Hey, maybe this cold does have some bright spots!

Others always have ideas of what to do to get better. I looked forward to reading Wisconsin friend Johnís recent column on things a person could do. It began: "Home remedies. Itís got a nice ring to it, doesnít it? It conjures up the ability to take care of things on our own, to be independent and self-sufficient. Of course we need doctors and nurses at times, but we need to be able to take care of minor medical things ourselves."

I agreed wholeheartedly. Viruses pretty much have to play out while we apply heavy doses of rest and various over-the-counter medications that treat symptoms.

John did have some good home remedies - lavender oil, aloe, pepper and honey - but they were all related to treating cuts and burns.

Being the daughter of a farmer, I turned to the 2019 ďOld Farmerís AlmanacĒ supplement. The January page had "Natural remedies for getting rid of a cold." Among its tips:

*Boil a whole onion, and afterward, drink the water. You can add a little butter and salt if the taste is unbearable! (Ugh! Iím feeling worse just thinking about it. But I was surprised niece Gabriela had the same tip. She also said I should drink tea with honey and lemon, which was much more appetizing and made me temporarily feel better.)

*Cut up fresh garlic cloves and add them to chicken soup or other foods, or swallow small chunks of raw garlic like pills. (Art and I have been eating garlic bread a lot lately, but somehow I havenít quite gotten around to eating chunks of raw garlic. I did, however, try some ďgarlic soupĒ that daughter Mariyaís wife Miriam made for me to put on pasta. I havenít decided if it cured my cough, but it did taste good!)

*Eat spicy foods to clear the sinuses. (Well, theyíll certainly do that. Art and I had spicy tamales the other night and my sinuses were clear for a couple of hours after.)

Sister Gaila said I should rub Vicks on my chest and cover it with a warm washcloth like Mom used to do when we were youngsters. I tried that, and it helped me breathe easier for a short time, although Iím not sure Art was a fan of our bedroom smelling like a pot of menthol.

That got me thinking about a little black pill that Mom used to give us when we had what she called a ďcroupyĒ cough. She would crush it on a teaspoon, put a little sugar on it and add water so we could swallow it. Gaila said she remembered it was anise-flavored. I didnít remember the taste, but I do recall that it made me feel better.

I was curious as to what it was. After doing some Google searching, I concluded it probably was dexamethasone, a type of steroid used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including croup. It was first made in 1957, so that would put it at about the time I was 4 and is probably what we both remember taking.

Grandpa Nels Mostrom used Listerine not just for better breath, but as something he applied on his head at night to ďkeep the germs away.Ē He wore a night cap to keep his head warm and he swore that the two together kept him from getting colds. He lived to be nearly 96 and he was fairly healthy to the end, so maybe there was something to it!

Catarrh, la grippe or whatever it is, I guess Iíll just have to be patient until it loosens its grippe - er grip.




Comments? gloria@kansassnapshots.com.
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