Ignore the phlegm. I know you want my body.

The time has come. I have been running on fumes for the last several weeks and may be approaching a wall, though who can see through the allergy fog? This has not been helped by the fact that, as I alluded to earlier, my sister is literally a oscillating lawn sprinkler of disease.

Picture from what is possibly my favorite episode of Parks and Recreation ever.
Yea, that’s right – I’m writing about it. (Sorry, Kara. But I did warn you!)

But first, a picture of Tico.

Y’all remember Tico the politically active, vote-encouraging, snuggle-loving kitten that my friend, Jane, let me splash all over the blog on election day? Above, you see Tico, as he was when Jane found him after his Thanksgiving feast. (Squee’s all around, friends, because he’s just that cute.)

And now, after that precious picture of sweet Tico, you should settle in. Grab your coffee, your tea, your White Russian (for those of you who live in a time zone where it is not shameful to drink that this hour), and settle in. Today, I’m going to tell you a tale of sorrow a woe, a tale of unmitigated chaos, a tale of pestilence.

That’s right, friends. I think I’m getting sick. And there’s only one person to blame – my sister, Kara. But first, some background.

My mother and I view seasonal illness in much the same way. When we begin to feel wheezy or congested, we will bust out the Neti-Pot and flush those sinuses. We will then make a cup of Eccinacea Gypsy Cold Care Tea (That is a REAL name), affectionately referred to as “shit on a stick” tea or “oh, sweet cheese, will you hold my nose while I gun this back” tea. It’s awful, but wellness is sometimes uncomfortable. We will drink 4 of those vitamin c packs a day, keep up with our fluids, eat plenty of fruits and veggies, and go to bed early with the humidifier parked literally in front of our faces. Generally speaking, we feel better after repeating this procedure for 3 or 4 days without the need for antibiotics or a visit to the doctor. (Note: Sinus infections are the exception. I get one a year. My mom, 2 or 3. But we were told by my ENT that we have anatomically f*cked sinuses (his words, not mine).)  

My sister and father, however, are horses of entirely different color. They will feel sick and tell themselves that it’s only allergies or, at worst, a cold. My dad will nap a lot, push the Gatorade and fluids, but not do much else, while Kara will dangerously mix Guafenasine (Mucinex) and DayQuil because “Pharmacy.com” told her she could. They will not get better, because they are not attacking the problem at its source, and will eventually be forced to go to the doctor, where they will be diagnosed with bronchitis or a deep sinus infection and asked, “Why the hell didn’t you come in sooner, Germfest?”

So last weekend, I was home and driving around with my mom and Kara in Kara’s car. Kara was spewing germs all over the place because no one ever forced her to cough politely. 
This is how polite people who are conscious about their own health and the health of those around them cough:

This is how Kara coughs:

Incidentally, it is also how she sneezes. It’s our fault, really. We never threatened her into doing it properly by telling her that if she coughed or sneezed wrong that God would kill a puppy or that I would draw penises on all of her Barbie dolls. (Ok, fine. When these lessons are learned as children, I wouldn’t have known what a penis was. But I could do it retroactively! So help me, Kara, if you do not heed the warnings of this post, I will go down to the basement storage, open the box of Barbies that you are saving to give to your future children, and draw penises on all of them. ALL OF THEM!)

I am infinitely mature.

Anyways, back to the car. My mom was complaining that Kara was going to get us sick and that she needed to go to the doctor.

It’s important to remember that Kara is a bit of a hypochondriac, in the grand tradition of our ancestors, who would have been gold medalists if hypochondria would ever be accepted as an Olympic Sport. (It would have to be part of the Winter Olympics so that we could all whine about our arthritis and how the water was so cold in the bath that we got frostbite all over and will probably lose our caboose and then how the weather outside is so frigid that our arms froze clean off at the shoulder. Thankfully, we were able to reattach with some plumber’s putty and peanut butter, but who knows how long that will last? Let me tell you, I’m still lobbying hard with the Olympic committee. You think figure skating around in a snazzy leotard while holding a 45 pound woman over your head is difficult? Try winning a round of “I must have died in my sleep last night and been resuscitated by being struck by lightning” with my Great-Aunt Ina.)

MOM: Kara, you sound horrible. And you’re not covering your mouth when you cough. Your germs are getting everywhere. (At this point, my mom has her shirt up over her nose and her hands tucked inside her purse so that none of the airborne germs can get her.)

KARA: [Hacking cough sounds] Mom, I am TOO covering my mouth!

ME: No, you’re not. You’re just holding your fist 5 inches away from your face. It’s not blocking or absorbing the cough, if anything, it’s providing a shield for the germs to bounce off of onto Mom and me. (At this point, I have my scarf swaddled around my entire head like my head is the world’s worst baby doll with only one eye showing [because she could be coughing out pink eye for all I know] and my hands wedged under my armpits so that the germs can’t touch me and take me alive.)
KARA: You guys are really mean. [HACK]

ME: I can’t afford to get sick! And you’re spreading your flu all over the world!

KARA: Moooooooom!

MOM: She’s not wrong, Kara. Honestly, have you even been taking anything for this?

KARA: Duh! This morning, I took Mucinex-D and a full dose of DayQuil.


KARA: I’m fine, mom. I’m totally staying within the wavy lines.

ME: Dear God, if you let us live, I swear that I will never yell at Carter about my uterus falling out again. I’ll volunteer. I’ll stop cussing in front of my grandmother.

KARA: [HACK] Ha ha. Very funny. [HACK]

ME: You do know that the DayQuil you took haGuaifenesin in it, which is the main ingredient in Mucinex. And Mucinex-D has a major decongestant in it, which can also be found in DayQuil. You’re not supposed to double-dose on those. Too much of an expectorant can strip your lungs.


MOM: Kara, why don’t you pull over and let one of us drive. Katie, do you have the Purel to sanitize her steering wheel?

KARA: My LUNGS could be bleeding?!?!?!!?

ME: I don’t know about bleeding, I just said stripped.

MOM: Kara, here’s a really lovely shoulder where you could pull off. Why don’t you—


ME: You obviously can breathe or you wouldn’t have been able to shriek that.


MOM: Kara, you’re getting awfully close to that truck in front of you. Kara … Kara… KARA!!!!!!

KARA: Mom, I’m clearly dying here because my lungs are filling up with blood because Pharmacy.com told me that I could take those meds together and they lied to me and now I’m dying and I don’t have time to worry about the speed limit! Or pedestrians!!!

ME: How about the law? You have time to worry about that?!


MOM: Wait…. Did you say that you got that info from Pharmacy.com?

KARA: Maybe. No. It was something like AskAPharmacist.com or MySecondCousinIsAPharmacist.com or HeresYourPharmacy.com

ME: Are you sure it wasn’t a site where you can buy meth?

MOM: I watched something about that on the news!

KARA: So now my lungs are filling up and I’m dying AND I’m addicted to Meth?!?

ME: That’s not really how that works—

KARA: GAH!!!!!! [HACK]

So that was last weekend. Her symptoms were exactly the same this weekend, when I spent a combined total of 12 hours next to her on a plane, spraying the flu all over me even though she insists she’s not contagious. Let’s clarify something – just because you say it, doesn’t make it true. I have a sterling personality and can charm the pants off of anyone with my delightful yet appropriate anecdotes and I never once have talked in public about inappropriate parts of my body, my cycle, or my desire to snatch puppies.
It’s like that. Just like that.

Anyways, Kara now, miraculously, seems to be feeling better while I have been fatigued, achy, congested, and producing phlegm at an alarming rate for the last 2 days. I’m trying to stay ahead of it – I sense a Hot Toddy in my future tonight and Carter is force feeding me Vitamin C powder and fluids because he knows what woe it will bring if this cold/flu actually catches.

And here is where Kara kicks my ass. Kara, when sick, still does everything, too much in fact. So she may be the world biggest weenie and most epic living hypochondriac, but I am the single most ridiculous and annoying sick person ever. I’m not whiney. I don’t ring the sick bell incessantly and make Carter fetch and carry. I’m worse. I am like the living dead.

When sick, I will put on Carter’s sweatpants and sweatshirt (Because mine aren’t comfy or warm enough and besides, I don’t want to contaminate them but since you’re never cold you don’t need uncontaminated warm-wear), lay on the couch, and adhere to the following schedule:

8:00 AM – Wake up. Because I’m sick. Not lazy. First dose of cold medicine.

8:05 AM – Settle onto the cough with my Snuggie and my gigante bottle of water, the humidifier literally blowing straight into my nostrils.

8:30 AM – Ask Carter to put Vick’s VapoRub on my chest because in my sick delirium, I think he’ll be turned on by getting to rub stuff onto my chest and upper-boob region and I want to “give him some sugar” before he leaves for school/work. (I’ve been informed, however, that it is not a turn-on and that I am a terrible VapoRub recipient because I keep bitching at him that he’s getting it in my hair which makes him want to rub it all over my face, thus effectively blinding me so that he can grab the car keys and run away for a few days.)

9:00AM – 12:00PM – Alternate between Will & Grace and The Golden Girls. Moan incoherently into my humidifier about how no one understands my pain but you, water vapor.

12:00 PM – Make lunch. We are out of chicken noodle soup, so I make Macaroni and Cheese. Because the two are synonymous. And I like Mac n Cheese.  Second dose of cold medicine.

12:30 PM – 5:00PM– Watch infomercials and doze, off and on, drooling like a basset hound because I can’t breathe through my nose at all and so when I sleep my mouth looks like the gaping maw of hell itself, the river Hades trickling out of it and all over my hair and the sofa. (You know y’all want a piece of this. I’m a sexy bitch.)

5:00 PM – Raise a single arm in greeting when Carter walks through the door. Yell at him for trying to kiss me hello because a) I’m sick; b) I am covered in my own mucus; and c) I don’t want to be seduced in my delicate condition. Try not to be hurt when he mutters something about, “I wouldn’t try to seduce you with a nine-foot pole with those tissues sticking out of both nostrils. Begin crying because I think he’s going to leave me for someone who produces less phlegm. Take another dose of cold medicine because clearly that is making me a rational person.

5:30 PM – Moan that Carter brought home the “bad’ kind of chicken noodle soup. Ask for more macaroni and cheese. Whine when he won’t give it to me and orders Indian take-out instead.

6:00 PM – Congratulate him on picking the only international food that is spicy enough to be tasted without a functioning sense of smell. Eat with abandon. 

6:10 PM – Complain loudly that now that the spices have cleared my sinuses that my tongue is on fire and it’s all his fault.

6:15 PM – Shame-eat some Naan and tell Carter that he’s the best husband in the world and that I’m not worthy.

7:00 – 9:00 PM – Watch Finding Nemo because I refused to watch anything else. Carter, the bastard, drugs me with more cold medicine during the scene when Marlin and Nemo and Dory are all helping the fish get out of the net. I think he wants to have his way with me. (Carter has informed me that this is not the case and that he is trying to do the same thing that responsible parents do with toddlers on long car trips – drug them to make them sleepy so that they can listen to the music they want to instead of the Wiggles and wait for it to be over.)

9:05 PM – Go to bed, again with humidifier pointing directly up my nose. Repeat the whole Vick’s VapoRub “I know you want my body right now but I’m too weak” dance. Again, try not to be hurt when Carter starts laughing.

Repeat for as long as necessary.

Have I mentioned that the ultimate injustice in this rather long tale is that Carter NEVER GETS SICK? As he says, I am his booger. Let me explain. You know how preschoolers eat their own boogers? You know how they are always producing copious amounts of mucus but are rarely really sick? That’s because they eat their own snot, so they are constantly fortifying their immune system by introducing it to all kinds of nasty things. Ever notice how you, as their parent, are always sick? Because they touch everything and you don’t eat your own snot, but you have to touch them so they give you all of the nasty germs to which they are now immune but you aren’t because you wash your hands like an adult and don’t try to put sand toys that have lived in the garage for months in your mouth. My very presence in Carter’s life functions in exactly the same way as the “booger” being eaten by your toddlers. I will catch literally whatever is going around, including Swine Flu. He will expose himself to me by kissing me on the mouth, drinking after me, and never washing his hands after he has come in contact with me. Thus, his immune system gets all roided up and immune because he is “eating the booger,” i.e. spending quality time with me. Ah. Marriage.

So let’s all, for Carter’s sake, cross our fingers and hope that this cold is just that, and not the beginnings of something worse. Because I would be forced to leave you all until it is over because Carter wont let me blog under the influence of hallucinogens or cold medicine (the difference being subtle) because he’s a jerk like that. But hey, at least it’s not meth, right?

Kara, I’m glad you’re feeling better. You should feel free to mail me a stuffed animal whale or penguin to make me feel better as a peace offering for the egregious sins you committed by baptizing me with your flu. I will also accept offerings of Graeter’s Ice Cream, the entire series boxed set of The Golden Girls, or a magical pixie horse. But don’t give me that bullshit of a fake one. I want a real one.

Happy and Healthy Tuesday, y’all!

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  1. Oh, please blog under the influence of hallucinogenic cold medication.

    P.S. I think you need to start drawing on the Barbie penises anyway. Your sister made you seriously phlegmy!

    Feel better.

  2. MySecondCousinIsAPharmacist.com ….if this isn’t a site, it should be!

    For what it’s worth, this is totally me when I’m ill. I’m a terrible patient who spends most of the time hiding in a cushion fort watching superhero movies and whinging at Ambrose (the cactus) that I can’t put the kettle on and it should do it for me.

    Hope you feel better soon x

    • Let’s start that site! And it won’t have anything to do with medicine but will instead be a cocktail recipe site!

      I’m glad you relate! Ambrose seems like a real prick for not helping you out with the kettle. Just saying.

      Thanks! I’m feeling a little better already! 🙂

  3. Ah, nature. Who knew booger eating served a legitimate purpose. Hope it doesn’t turn out to be the flu. My sinuses are also a mess, so sleep and salt water up the nose are my go-tos the minute I feel that itchy feeling all up in there. Funny dialogue between you and your sister and, of course, Tico is a cutie.

    • Evolution at its finest, Terri, methinks. I think I got ahead of it – fingers crossed. I got my flu shot, much good it’s done me in the past. I hope your sinuses clear up and feel lubricated so they’ll stop giving you trouble!

  4. i must tell you that teat salve comes in a mentholated form. so its good for blisters and congestion. i’m sorry you’re sick, that’s what you get for galavanting all over the countryside. be well

    • Carter will be aghast when our credit card statement includes a charge to a website for mentholated teat salve. It will raise a lot of questions from him, none of which will I answer.

      Why does it come in mentholated? Do cows get stuffy udders?

  5. What am I doing? I think I have this being sick malarkey all wrong!! I am more like your sister (without the cough and sneeze all over people part…eeeww) I end up feeling so guilty that even when I can’t stand properly I and in t he kitchen making the packed lunches etc…etc… The other half, however is very responsible and removes sharpe knives so I can’t physically injure my self.

    I am thinking I should stay put a little more!

    Note to self, start eating own boogies!

    • Oh, dear, you’re doing it all wrong! Here’s the thing – Kara may retain her schedule when sick, but then she’s sick for like a month. I, on the other hand, drop away from the world for a few days but feel much better much sooner! Give your body time to heal, I say! You do so much all the time – take care of yourself when sick. The family will survive. Promise. 🙂

      Stay put, indeed! As for the boogie eating, I leave that to you. I’ll probably stick with my Vitamin C, haha! 🙂

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