Monday, July 05, 2010

An Egyptian cold

I don't know if this a scientifically correct observation, but it seems to me that when I catch a cold somewhere other than where I normally live, it's a different cold than what I'm used to. In Tucson, when I caught a cold, I could pretty much predict which symptoms would be worse on which days and I was almost always right.

I recently caught my first Egyptian cold and so far it's agreeing with my above hypothesis: it's different than any cold I've had before. There's the sore throat and the cough and the runny nose and the general feeling of malaise, but thrown into the mix for fun is a random gummy eye. That really caught me off guard. And it's such an awkward symptom because while you can cover up a cough or a runny nose well enough - or at least expect general acceptance of such by the public as a normal cold symptom - a gummy eye sneaks up on you and is kind of gross. I'll be having a pleasant conversation with someone and then go home and realize that there was a huge ball of eye goo clinging to my eyelashes the whole time. Nice.

I picked up some cough syrup from a local pharmacy and I'd like to think I wowed the pharmacist a bit when I name-dropped a couple of active ingredients (guaifenesin and dextramethorphan - you can't just go in and ask for Robitussin). He gave me a bottle of mystery syrup and I took a dose right before I went to bed. Then I had the craziest and worst night's "sleep" ever.

I felt like I was going a little bit insane. My mind was racing and I kept thinking I had to swallow convulsively. I tossed and turned and drifted in and out of restless sleep. All night long I heard dogs barking. (Except it turned out that part wasn't a hallucination because Jeremy told me the next morning that there really were dogs barking all night. But still, it added to the general insanity.)

When that horrible night finally came to an end, I took a look at the cough syrup bottle and noticed that there were two additional ingredients besides the suppressant and expectorant. One was a nasal decongestant and one was...I have no idea. Insane medicine, I guess.

I'm getting better slowly and I'm even learning how to nonchalantly sweep my hand across my eye to check for large clumps of goo. But I hope I don't get too good at it because I never want to experience an Egyptian cold again.


Liz Johnson said...

I really shouldn't laugh at that, but... hahahahaha. Sorry. I'm so sorry for your night of hallucinations and insanity (not to mention your cold), but seriously, what was that fourth ingredient?! Amphetamine!?

Bridget said...

Liz, I just looked and the other ingredients were Ephedrine hydrochloride and Diphenhydramine hydrochloride. Ready...set...someone tell me how terrible those are!

Chris said...

I googled them and came across Kind of funny. It seems like it is just ephedrine. That probably explains why you were up and couldn't sleep. You can't get it without a prescription in most english speaking countries. I knew a lady that would buy ephedrine pills online because they give you so much energy. Ephedrine falls under the restrictions enacted by the Patriot act because you can make meth with it. Next time you have a cold you should go lift some weights or do push-ups.
I looked up diphenhydramine hcl too and it is just antihystamine. Benadryl is straight diphenhydramine. Mixing those two seems like a crazy idea.

Liz Johnson said...

Per wikipedia, adverse effects of ephedrine hydrochloride include "restlessness, confusion, insomnia, mild euphoria, mania/hallucinations (rare except in previously existing psychiatric conditions), delusions, formication (may be possible, but lacks documented evidence) paranoia, hostility, panic, and agitation."

So that's super fun, eh? It sounds like you were basically on speed all night!

Bridget said...

Lovely. Now excuse me while I go throw that medicine away. YIKES.

Jake and Becky Veigel Family said...

Another reason why living in Egypt is a huge adventure and I admire your courage. Mystery medicine. Yikes! B

Susanne said...

Speaking of gross stuff, I noticed in Syria, we all were sniffling at some point. I guess it was the hookah smoke in every café at that time. And when you blew your nose, well, it was I'd had my head in the fire inhaling soot.

Hope you feel (and SLEEP) better soon!

Spencer said...

We had good luck with a medication called "Bradoral" when we were self-medicating in Cairo. Cleared up the kinds of symptoms you mention.


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