The last few days I’ve been battling sinus drainage, which is a disgusting condition I have to deal with every few years. I’m sick to death of my nose running and the river of slime crawling down the back of my throat.
At some point, the sinus drainage condition always turns into a coughing condition. The phlegm irritates the back of the throat, and some coughing ensues, but the real coughing jags happens when it feels like there’s a dry spot. In those unhappy moments, I can cough until it sounds like I’m going to hack up a hairball and never be able to draw breath again.
And here’s the other thing — you can try, but you can’t really stifle a cough. Basically, you’re helpless against physical forces that are beyond your control. Yesterday I was at a lunch meeting where I listened to an interesting presentation. I drank lots of fluids, came armed with a pocket full of cough drops, and popped them into my mouth like I was a chain smoker. But cough drops can only do so much, and still the coughs came. When I tried to hold them back, my eye started watering, I emitted tiny strangled cries, and my distress was apparently so obvious that a friendly fellow attendee at the meeting handed me a bottled water with a silent nod and a pat on the back. I accepted it with gratitude, promptly took a few swigs, and decided that a few discreet coughs to relieve the overwhelming coughing urge was probably better for all concerned than a full-on hacking attack.
It’s weird when you’re asleep and you wake up coughing, too. It makes you realize that while your mind may be asleep, your body and all of its membranes and organs are still working away. And, ultimately, the nose and throat are in control, whether you like it or not.