Kindness of Strangers

I felt the change in my cough a few moments after I boarded the train for home. I've been at the coughing stage of my cold now for about 48 hours. I'm tired; I'm a bit dazed; I'm not really with it. I'd gone to the chemist earlier in the day to purchase a cough supressent.

No, I said, it's not a dry cough and no, I said, it's not chesty and no, I said, I don't need a nasal decongestant because my nose is decongesting all over the place!

Flipping up-sellers!

So she sold me some Robitussin for a cough that is somewhere between a dry and a chesty cough - of course. Doh, I thought on the train as I felt my cough change - like a switch flipped: there it was - a dry cough.

God dammit!

That tickle - that *flipping* tickle in my throat. The one that swallowing aggravates. The one that makes me cough. And cough. And cough. And feel like I'm going to throw up because I'm coughing. Ramping up and up until my eyes are streaming and I'm doubled over and *coughing*.

And this train trip is 90 minutes and we've only just left the station.

Fumbling in my bag for the bottle of Robitussin a hand appears around the seat in front of me, in its palm is a lozenge. Oh I'm okay, I choke, I have medicine! but I'm not okay, it makes not one scrap of difference - if anything, it seems to make my throat rougher, rawer, raspier. I can't get a grip of my coughing, my streaming. The train is at capacity, the poor guy next to me, the poor lozenge woman in front of me.

From behind suddenly a handful of tissues appear. The woman behind me says she has plenty, please, take them. Thanks, I splutter. Leaning forward I tap the woman in front of me on her shoulder and half cough half ask I maybe I may have a lozenge after all.

Of course nothing works. Nothing works. Why does nothing work? they put a man on the moon god dammit why can't they make a cough suppressent suppress a cough or a lozenge sooth a throat but everything just makes that tickle worse.

Leaning back I try to relax. Wracked with urges to cough I try to ignore it. Some coughs bark out, others are held in check. Is there anything worse than sitting in a confined space with someone spluttering their germs all about the place? maybe if they peed as well - that's how bad it is. No one likes that person. Tonight, I am that person.

I think about not swallowing to stop aggravating my throat but that opens up a whole 'nother can of wormy problems plus, when I really think about it, it's the inhaling that's the real problem and I can't stop doing that for very long.

The train pulls up at Woodend. Nearly everyone gets off this service at Woodend. I watch the ladies who helped me go. They each turn to check on me, to smile sympathetically. I nod and try to smile back but a cough breaks through. Then I feel it again - it changes again and I get my good old ordinary cough back. The raspy tickle has been replaced with good old fashioned sore throat, but at least not the kind that makes me cough. Ears are clothy and sore, glands up and tender, yup - 5 or 50, that common cold treats us all the same.

So here we are on night three of walking up through the night coughing, but at least I'm not annoying anyone. I can snot and splutter and moan and groan my way through the night and wake up early so I can do it all again tomorrow.