Oh I remember a time, in the distant, distant past, when getting a cold meant holding it together until the weekend and then spending the weekend in a NyQuil induced coma, only emerging from bed to use the bathroom or get a refill of chicken noodle soup or juice. By Monday morning, I’d shower and feel ready to face the world again. It was such a wonderful way to deal with a head cold or flu and NyQuil always gave me the craziest dreams. Now though, dealing with a cold isn’t that easy. For approximately 7 years now, I have been either pregnant or nursing, and when you are either of those things, your options for treating an illness become severely limited and you become willing to try just about any crazy remedy in hopes of feeling even small relief from your symptoms.
This new year has not been kind to my family thus far. We have had the stomach bug rip through our house for a week and a half and two different versions of head colds, and it is still only January. I am currently dealing with my second bout with the head cold, but this one is way worse than the first one. At about 8:30 every night (the time in which I’d like to crawl into to bed and pass out due to the cold) my nasal passages suddenly plug up so completely that I can’t breathe when I swallow and I feel completely claustrophobic, like I’m being buried in sand. It is the worse part of this head cold, worse than the sever cotton mouth that leaves painful dry patches on the back of my throat from sleeping with my mouth open, and worse than the fluid pressure ear aches I get from sleeping on my left side (the recommend sleep side at this point in pregnancy). I feel like I’m going to go into a full blown panic attack when this severe nasal blockage occurs. Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t have constant congestion or a running faucet of a nose all day long, it is just that it becomes unbearable suffocating just before bed. At this point of the night, I want nothing more than to be able to breathe normally, crawl under the covers, and pass out. As a stay at home mom of three young kids, I don’t get to “call in sick” and lay in bed all day, so I’ve already spent my day feeding, clothing, and running kids everywhere on top of cleaning up constant messes and trying to keep up with laundry. Sure, I’ll try to lay down during the day, but usually I can’t even get my kids to sit through a 25 minute program without bothering me for a snack, something to drink, pause the show so they can go to the bathroom, or just my youngest wanting to give me something. And since my kids don’t nap, I don’t either. I my house becomes a giant mess as I attempt to do just the bare minimum to survive and even that is more than I have energy for, so by 8:30 pm, I am done. Unfortunately, my sinuses are telling me otherwise.
This is when every remedy, no matter how strange sounding, becomes appealing, as I desperately search for a way to help myself feel well enough to sleep, even for just a few hours. First I try the basics; nasal rinses, steamy baths, and breathe right strips. Then I move on to various teas (which if drank to close to bed, make me have to get up to pee all night) and broths. I start adding essential oils to my bath, strange things to my drinks, and consider eating boiled garlic cloves despite a major garlic aversion during my pregnancy. I put vapor rub on my feet and cover them with socks. I massage my sinuses and touch my tongue to the roof of my mouth. I boil water and mix it with apple cider vinegar to inhale (despite being told it will burn). I soak socks in freezing water and then put them on with dry wool ones on top. Any suggestion someone gives me, I try, but nothing seems to work. So I suffer and pray that the cold makes its way out of my system soon. When I finally do manage to fall asleep at night, I dream of a time in the future, a time in which I’m neither pregnant nor nursing, a time which I can again take NyQuil and retreat in a medicated coma when become sick. I know that time is still 2-3 years away, and who am I kidding, I’ll still have young kids, so I won’t be able to spend uninterrupted hours in bed sleeping, but a girl can dream, if she can breathe well enough to get to sleep.