Poor People’s Pharmacy

I have a cold.

Sore throat, sneezing, stuffy head, blocked ears and fuzzy thinking. Its a drag and an inconvenience and I have too much work due at the moment to stay home and indulge in tea & TV.

A further insult is that my preferred daytime sinus meds are only (sometimes) available through a pharmacy because they contain an ingredient used to make meth. So I have crappy drugs that don’t really manage my symptoms because some kitchen sink chemist is now making more money in a month than I do in a year. If I am sick next week I’ll go in for a strep test.

Once upon a time, before I had health coverage, my first cold of the season would turn into bronchitis that would last several months. Granted I was a smoker in those days. And making $13K a year working at a small nonprofit, the cost for single person coverage was roughly equivalent to my rent, so I didn’t have health benefits. Instead I used the poor people’s pharmacy. Echinacea. Goldenseal. Garlic. Vitamin C. Slippery elm tea (blegh).

Turns out that Echinacea does nothing to prevent colds or reduce their duration. Its just a nasty tasting hippie placebo. And Goldenseal under the tongue will convince anyone to get better so they can stop taking it.

Maybe these home remedies would have worked better if I didn’t smoke, got a decent amount of sleep and had a diet that consisted of more than just feta omelettes, grilled cheese and coffee. Who knew. I do know that if you have to live without health care the best time to do it is in your twenties when your body will forgive a lot and keep on going.

Now I have health care. I have money for antibiotics and doctor copays. Its a big leap from how I grew up. My parents didn’t believe you needed a doctor unless you were unconscious or a bone was protruding. I know we got vaccines when we were kids, and saw a dentist once in a while, but until I was in high school when my dad got his dream job, doctor visits were infrequent.

I don’t know if that is a generational attitude or a poverty/depression child attitude. Both my parents came up hard during the depression, so maybe its a bit of both. Doctor’s just give you bad news and hospitals are where people go to die. A lot of truth in those statements.

I am happy to report that I have not had bronchitis in winter for several years now. I started smoking when I was 13 and smoked for 16 years. Now, I have “been quit” for 17 years, which supposedly means that my lungs are back to base zero, like I had never smoked.

I am happy to deal with this cold and not bronchitis. And, even with the sub-par decongestants, I am ecstatic to not be dosing with Echinacea and Goldenseal.

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