Back to the grind

Back to the grind October 3, 2012

I thought I’d dodged the bullet last month when both daughters ended up missing several days of school with the nasty cough/fever/head-cold thing that’s been going around.

Not quite. Woke up Monday with a tickle in my throat and the realization that the next 48-72 hours would be unpleasant. And they were.

If you’re looking for restful sleep, then don’t combine Nyquil, a fever and MSNBC on the TV. Wound up having a strange nightmare yesterday in which I seemed to be some kind of campaign staffer and everyone was blaming me for giving this same nasty cough/fever/head-cold thing to the candidate right before the big debate. (In the weird dream-logic of the thing, I seem to have worked for both candidates and gotten both of them sick.)

It is remarkable that candidates aren’t forced to call in sick more often. I work from home and I still couldn’t avoid this latest bug. But Obama and Romney are traveling all over the country “pressing the flesh” with thousands of people every day.

A couple of days knocked off my feet have me appreciating what James Fallows recently described as “The Secret Factor in Running for President“:

It is amazing that the four people left on the national stage — Romney, Obama, Ryan, Biden — bear up as well as they do.

See also his follow-up: “On Fatigue and the Presidency: ‘Backwards and in High Heels.’

I’d love to see an article sharing and comparing health tips from political campaign veterans from both parties. Do they have secret tricks the rest of us don’t know about? Or is it just the same combination of sleep and liquids, hot showers and honey-lemon-tea, that the rest of us use?


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  • Magic_Cracker

    Do they have secret tricks the rest of us don’t know about?

    Meth. And lots of it.

  • MikeJ

    Every candidate keeps a jar of Purell in the car and an aide is carrying one for any time they get out of sight of the masses.   They use it non stop.

    I don’t know how much it actually helps but every major candidate does it.

  • kittehonmylap

    *Ginger* honey lemon tea. The ginger helps clear out your sinuses. 

    Also kittens. (Mine has finally settled down and stopped trying to chew my face.)

    Opera singers have to be even more careful- you can dope yourself up for long enough to give a speech and press some flesh, but most of the drugs that make you functional are dangerous to singers, as singers are more liable to have vocal hemorrhages if the mucus in their throat is dried up (and singing for 3-4 hours every night plus rehearsals kinda puts a lot of stress on your vocal folds to begin with). My former teacher said that when she was singing in Europe she basically spent time in her hotel room and rehearsing due to a need to not be exposed to sickness that would make her unable to sing. 

  • Jessica_R

    MST3K reruns on Hulu or Netflix Instant also help. Otherwise hot showers and club soda with lots of lime juice. 

  • Carstonio

    Tony Kornheiser wrote about meeting the Rolling Stones and observed that as kinetic as they were in performance, offstage they seemed almost somnolent.  Maybe the politicians are the same way.

  • No helpful hints or backstage info that other people haven’t already posted, but, Fred, I hope you’re feeling better.

  • aunursa

    I hope that you are feeling better.

    Jewish prayers for healing

  • Hope you feel better soon!  Being sick sucks. :(

    (Shameless PSA – it’s flu shot season, kids!  Do your part to contribute to herd immunity and protect the young, the old, the immunocompromised, the stressed…)

  • Whew! Ouch! I usually give in and grab the Theraflu (USA) / Neo-Citran (Canada) and end up boiling a lot of water. :P Those lemon drinks really do seem to help. Plus Halls, cherry flavor, for sore throats.

  • Xian-x

    Nyquil and MSNBC? I’m not sure even Hunter S. Thompson would go there.

  • I have found that I have spent a lot less time sick since I have been in retail.  I think my immune system is constantly being bombarded with so many interesting things that it’s become like Wonder Woman playing bullets and bracelets.  (Almost) Nothing gets through anymore.

    I was sick all the time as a kid and young adult, but I had a sore throat for a couple of days last year, and before that the last time I can remember being sick was a head cold in January or February of 2010.  Oh, and never try to operate a cash register with a head cold.

     I hope you feel better soon, Fred!

    P.S. I was very disappointed to see that Ginger Rogers’s gravestone does not say “She did everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in high heels.”  I was gratified, though, that Bette Davis’s *does* say, “She did it the hard way.”

  • Also kittens. (Mine has finally settled down and stopped trying to chew my face.)

    That only makes things worse if one is allergic to cat dander, as one of my roommates is.  

    Does not stop our house from having four cats though.  :)

  • JustoneK

    allergy free digital kittens!

  • Kiba

    Do they have secret tricks the rest of us don’t know about? Or is it just the same combination of sleep and liquids, hot showers and honey-lemon-tea, that the rest of us use?

    See, I just use threats of bodily harm and tell people I have a voodoo doll with their name on it if they get me sick.

    Also, mallow tea (can add other things to it as well like ginger, mint, etc) is great for sore throats. So is hot jello: take packet of jello, add one cup boiling water, stir until dissolved, add one cup cold water, pour into a cup and drink.   

  • Kiba

    Hypoallergenic cats (and dogs) if  you want to spend around 6k for a cat.

  • Dan Audy

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were taking something like Cold-FX like professional athletes do in order to minimize getting the flu and colds and reducing the duration and severity when they do.  Also they are almost certainly getting the annual flu vaccine which typically knocks off the most common strain going around that year.

  • LL

    Yeah, “meth” was gonna be my joke answer, too. 

    My  non-joke answer is they probably do feel like shit sometimes, but have makeup people to cover up their deathly pallor. And personal physicians available 24/7.

    Plus, of course, Romney has that picture of himself up in his attic. 

  • Fusina

     Heh. We just adopted our fourth. It started out as a fostering deal, but you _Know_ how that plays out. Our three other kitties are at the “enh, so long as he doesn’t steal my food…Aww, he’s so small, how can I smack him” stage of things. Since he is still very much a kitten, he can get away with that sort of stuff. The dog was very excited, as he loves to play with the cats–I think he thinks he is just one of the gang–and this one actually plays back. He is so excited about that. So we now get to hear the thundering horde of two galloping up and down the hall.

    New kitty is a perfect foil for one of our senior kitties–Nero is black and grumpy and does not like to be touched unless he does, (and has been his whole life–it was only after we took him in that I even got to pet him, and he is a little mellower than he used to be) and Antinomy is white and loves to be as close to other people as he can get. I have been thinking that we could rename them Anakin and Luke on account of the similarities.

  • hidden_urchin

    You too?  I started with the sore throat last week.  By the weekend it was a full blown cold and I was not a happy camper when I had to ride to the library in the cold rain to work because some groupmates half-assed their work on an assignment.  On Monday I was coughing every two minutes leading to the most miserable math class ever.  Yesterday I slept all day, waking up only for class.  Today I am starting to feel human again.

    My best friends during all of this were Eucalyptus Froggy ( and Earl Grey Green.

    I can’t figure it out though.  Last year I lived with four other gals, all of whom got strep at the same time, and studied with a guy who had one nasty illness or another pretty much every other week and never got sick.  This year I live alone and get an evil, evil cold.  I guess my immune system just said, “Frak it.  I worked overtime last year.  You’re on your own for this one.”

  • I have found that I have spent a lot less time sick since I have been in retail.

    I came down with two nasty viruses within my first two months working at Walgreens.  Since then I’ve hardly been sick at all.  I think it’s partly because I’ve gotten much better about washing my hands at every break.  Here’s hoping my luck holds out, because I’ve been seeing an awful lot of people with bad colds lately.

  • 2-D Man

    There’s also something about being hyperstressed that seems to hold off cold symptoms until some downtime can be found. When I was in university, I would get sick about once each semester and typically when I was visiting my mother. I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama, Romney and a good chunk of their staves (?) come down with colds two days after the election.

  • A couple christmases ago, I was breathing hard in the cold air as I was trying to make a bus. What started as a mild cough due to an irritated throat morphed into a HA HA NOW YOU FEEL LIKE CRAP illness.


  • Zeborah

    I’ve been sick more these last two years than ever in my life, and common colds are hitting me worse than ever.  It’s clearly the stress, first from earthquakes and then (and mostly) from the increasingly nasty environment at my workplace; now that I’ve finally got myself a new job with a much more supportive atmosphere I’m hoping my immune system will recover. If not, well, at least one of the perks of the new job is unlimited sick leave…

    Anyway my MO for dealing with illness is to take time off immediately and for a day longer than I think I need it; and spend that time resting and drinking juice and chicken soup and whatever else is easy to make and eat. And resting. As few drugs as possible – a mild fever is the body’s way of killing the bugs, otoh I need to keep a perpetual focus on staving off inevitable asthma attacks, and there’s nothing I hate more than a nose blocked so I can’t sleep without waking up every half an hour with a mouth as dry as concrete. Sometimes I take a nap just because this is a moment when I can breathe freely through at least one side of my nose.

  • flat

    well on monday my mother came sick from work, so Fred isn’t the only one.

  • Michael Cule

    Actors too accumulate their own sets of personal cures and preventatives and are even twitchier around sick colleagues than they are around people who quote from the Scottish Play.

  • JayemGriffin

    Yep. Don’t get even a little cold right before tech week- instant social pariah.

  • Div School Survivor

    Hopefully, this will be a bit of a morale booster: today columnist David Wong posted an article (Five Reasons Humanity Desperately Needs Monsters to Be Real) that links back to the original post that led to the Anti-Kitten Burning Coalition metaphor. 

    Here’s a link to Wong’s article:

    And another to the post cited:

  • For awhile I would get an annual strep throat that would just put me on my ass for like a week. Last time that happened it wasn’t strep but a throat abcess that meant eating or drinking water felt like swallowing nails. 

    Finally got it drained after the doc shot me up with painkillers and used the biggest needle in the goddamned world to shove down my throat. Worst part was when I stagger drugged out of the OR and a nurse helpfully asks…

    “You…didn’t DRIVE here, did you?”

    Cut to watching Winx and Criminal Intent one after another and somehow combining the characters and plots in my mind before driving home. 

  • Albanaeon

    Hmm.  For sore throats, I find nothing really works better than gargling with warm salt water.  I’ve gone from no voice to nearly perfect overnight with that.

  • Div School Survivor

    Most complicated way to get high ever!

    Seriously, though, that sounds like it was the pits.  Sore throats are the worst.

  • renniejoy

    OT – useless pedant

     Re: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire- it’s a great slogan, but it’s really not true that “[s]he did everything…, backwards and in high heels.”

    Fred was a dancer who got into movies, Ginger was an actress who danced. Some of his most innovative work was solo. And if nothing else, she wasn’t in all of his movies, so she couldn’t possibly have done everything he did.

    Sorry, hot button issue.

    I get the point and I’m not running down Ginger Rogers, but that slogan just pulls me up short every time.  There has to be a more true comparison to use.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m a flu shot, lots of hand washing and staying the hell away from drippy noses person myself.

    I have a family member who’s severely immunocompromised, so if I get sick it means I can’t see said family member. Most people are incredibly bad about keeping their germs away from everyone else, so whenever there’s an outbreak of headcolds, flu or whatever, my sister is housebound in a form of reverse quarantine.

    Last year someone in the office next to me came to work with a patently contagious cold–coughing, sneezing and sniffling constantly. She refused to stay at home so I told my boss I’d be working at home for the next few days instead, otherwise I’d have to miss my sister’s upcoming birthday dinner. Very fortunately I have a boss and a job that can accommodate that.

    People who won’t quarantine themselves while contagious drive me crazy. I feel for casual workers who don’t get paid if they don’t do a shift, but people who have sick leave but don’t use it because they’re being a hero with cold/flu/chickenpox etc…their heroics put people like my sister in ICU.

    When a few people here died during the swine flu outbreak we finally saw people rediscovering quarantine…unfortunately old habits are seeping back in.

    /off the soapbox

    Anyway, handwashing is great!

  • P J Evans

    A day of sinuses, full. Followed by a week of sinuses, draining. So much fun.

  • Mary Kaye

    Marc, I had the opposite experience to you:  I got out of surgery and the nurse said, “Your husband’s driving you home, right?”

    “No, we took the bus….”   At that point I looked in the mirror and realized my hair was clotted with blood.  The nurse thought about this for a while and found me a white mesh cap that made me look like a Smurf but mostly hid the blood. 

    I was *so* happy when I was finally allowed to wash!  I’d been thinking quite seriously about cutting my hair off,  just to get clean.

  • Lori

    Fred, I’m sorry that the crud caught up with you. I had it a couple weeks ago and it was no fun at all. I had to go to work, so I did 3 days of Nyquil & Dayquil in order to function until the weekend and then I basically slept from Friday night until Monday morning. Not my idea of a good time. 

  • SisterCoyote

    Ouch, Fred. Good luck with the recovery; this strain going around looks pretty nasty. I’ve avoided it so far, but my former-boss just called me in to fix a computer issue, and he’s just getting over it, so now I’m worried.

  • redcrow

    Get well soon, Fred!

  • Worried about a bug?

    Thank you, folks, I’ll be here all week!

  • Argh!  Someone breathed on me!  I’m just getting that tickle in my throat now. *sniffle* Excuse me while I get another cup of tea.