the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Current status

Over a year ago I wrote about dodging a nasty cold that had systematically infected every single person in the traveling circus: my mother and stepfather, Dane, Tyrant, both girls, both dogs, both birds who died on my doorstep, the mythical bobcat, and the rattlesnake Marlo found in the backyard.

I attributed it to my diet, something that I believe cured me of several ailments that had plagued me for years including pesky things like sinus infections and constipation. It was the only explanation given the amount of emotional and physical stress I was under, and up until last Saturday afternoon I think it had been keeping me safe from a series of awful illnesses both children have been bringing home for months (like this time and that time and that other time). Yes, keeping me safe. When you sign up to eat Paleo you get a free stick that you use to kill your meals AND swat away germs.

Last month when I returned from a trip back East, Marlo had a cold that traveled to Leta and then to Tyrant and then infected most of Utah and Idaho. But somehow I managed to avoid it, yet again, and often in between the coughing fits of everyone around me I’d say, “I testify that Paleo is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

I haven’t been sick in… years? Yeah. Years. I’ve had the occasional runny nose or itchy throat, but I cannot remember the last time I was bedridden or even marginally sidelined due to illness. I do not have anything other than my diet to explain this. I haven’t been praying or meditating. I haven’t been taking supplements or performance enhancing drugs. I haven’t even kidnapped someone’s first born son and set him afloat in a little basket as an offering to the gods.

I also don’t use hand sanitizer, and that’s probably as terrifying to some of you as it is to me when I see someone walking around with a phone that has no protective case on it. No, seriously. Can we talk about this for a second, please? Do you not appreciate your phone? The technology and science that went into making a beautiful handheld gadget that forecasts the weather, trades your stocks, sends your email and MAPS OUT THE QUICKEST ROUTE TO CHIPOTLE?! How on earth can you just walk around with it unsheathed like that? You’re practically begging to get hit by a truck.

If you do not have a protective case on your phone and you walk by me my visceral reaction is to wince visibly, and by visibly I mean I’m about as subtle as when Kramer walks through Jerry’s door:

Maybe that has something to do with it, not using hand sanitizer. Yes, I regularly wash my hands but that anti-bacterial stuff has always irritated my skin. Maybe I’m a more exposed to germs going around than someone who carries a little bottle of it around in their purse, or maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about. We can safely assumer the latter.

And then Saturday happened. I woke up with an itchy throat that turned into a very sore throat that by Sunday had moved up into my head. I looked a lot like this:


I got on the plane to San Francisco that afternoon having totally forgotten what the pressure during a flight can do to someone with a cold, and while landing a drip-drip-drip sound in my left ear suddenly transformed itself into a demon who was trying to scrape out my brain with a burning scalpel.

I think my body unconsciously rallied to get through the next couple of days of meetings, but upon my return home yesterday I sat on the couch and felt everything shutting down. Sickness had finally caught up with me after years of chasing me and nipping at my ankles. I’m not currently bedridden, but I’d rather be no where else right now than under the covers and sipping a warm cup of freshly hunted and gathered soup.

I testify that Paleo is mostly true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

  • LearnNoBurn

    2014/03/20 at 3:10 pm


  • Tori Pearce

    2014/03/20 at 3:12 pm

    I have a suspicion that when you tell someone you don’t get sick because of Paleo it’s the same look they give me when I tell them that Vitamin D Stoss Protocol and Hydrotherapy has prevented colds from settling into my system for longer than 24 hours for the past 3 years. This years death cold caught up with me too. Feel Better.

  • Kristan

    2014/03/20 at 3:21 pm

    Oh man, I went on a plane while sick once. NOT RECOMMENDED.

  • Laura

    2014/03/20 at 3:29 pm

    Cold Calm – Homeopathic treatment sold at Walgreen’s

  • Kate H

    2014/03/20 at 3:38 pm

    I apologize for not putting my phone in a case, but a case makes it awkward to use the slide out keyboard, which is the entire reason I got that phone in the first place.

  • bethany axtman

    2014/03/20 at 3:43 pm

    Ginger lemon honey. Nothing pansy-ass, stew that ginger. Adding a little whiskey doesn’t hurt either. Or a lot, your call.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/03/20 at 3:43 pm

    Could there be an explanation other than the Vitamin D Stoss Protocol and Hydrotherapy, though? What else have you done differently? I believe you! And am writing this down!

  • Jen Moore

    2014/03/20 at 3:49 pm

    zinc lozenges will help with your sore throat

  • sara

    2014/03/20 at 3:50 pm

    thieves oil!

  • Tori Pearce

    2014/03/20 at 3:52 pm

    One trip to a Naturopathic doc changed the way I approach being sick and has changed how often I fall ill. Warming socks (Hydrotherapy) are a wonder to help pull a cold out of your head and chest. It also helps you sleep for some weird reason.
    I don’t take stuff like Nyquil or cold medicine with the exception of Mucinex. I had the thought that anything that suppresses a cough is allowing your body to hold onto that gunk that is making you feel crummy. Taking something that thins it out and helps you get rid of it faster seems to help.

  • EmilyB

    2014/03/20 at 3:55 pm

    Apple Cider Vinegar! It helps to break up the mucus and I think speeds up recovery. I like to sip mine with warm water and lemon but my husband hates it so will only take it quick via shot glass. I also like usually make ginger tea by steeping cut up fresh ginger root in water, straining and then adding lemon and raw honey (and sometimes bourbon). The honey feels so good on a sore throat and also had antibiotic properties. Good luck and hope you have a speedy recovery!

  • Dena

    2014/03/20 at 4:29 pm

    I also caught the Plague that’s been going around. It hit me like a ton of bricks just in time for my weekend which I spent in bed with a super swollen throat. Oil of Oregano totally cured me. I used this one:

    and followed these directions (#3 and #4- the oil is already diluted):

    Just be sure to take a probiotic as well. This stuff kills everything off- including the good bacteria!

  • canyonwren

    2014/03/20 at 4:31 pm

    I’ve had the same results (haven’t had a cold for more than a day at most) because at the FIRST inkling of a cold coming on I start drinking Echinacea Plus Tea (by Traditional Medicinals) and taking Airborne every two hours. Neti pots also work. But I’m intrigued by the sock thing…

  • Katybeth

    2014/03/20 at 4:43 pm

    I just read this on FB so it must be true—I’ve never tried it: COLDS: Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold, and, clear the sinuses, and it’s delicious too!

  • Tori Pearce

    2014/03/20 at 4:57 pm

    Instructions for warming socks can be found here:

  • KC

    2014/03/20 at 5:56 pm

    Feel better 🙂

  • Sarah

    2014/03/20 at 7:10 pm

    Elderberry syrup!

  • Tori Pearce

    2014/03/20 at 7:31 pm

    Internet searching “warming socks” is a good way to find instructions and also why it works. I use it anytime I start to feel “off” and during allergy season if needed.

  • Jenna

    2014/03/20 at 7:51 pm

    i’m a firm believer in apple cider vinegar every day, and its ability to bust and stave off colds is only one of the many benefits…pro tip: it comes in pill form which is WAY easier to ingest…trust me on that one!

  • Becca

    2014/03/20 at 7:52 pm

    Steep a few chopped garlic cloves in hot water for 15 min. Add lemon and honey. Drink. It works!

  • joanlvh

    2014/03/20 at 8:19 pm

    mucinix and tons of water, kind of flushes it out

  • talonsage

    2014/03/20 at 9:30 pm


  • talonsage

    2014/03/20 at 9:32 pm

    I recommend masturbation. Clears the sinuses like nothing I’ve ever tried!! Now it’s only temporary, so you have to keep trying, but it’s better than ginger-garlic-centipede-castor-oil-stew that you take at both ends, right?

  • talonsage

    2014/03/20 at 9:38 pm

    . . .

    Seriously disqus? This is how you treat me? I even go fix my avatar…which you suddenly stopped using for reasons I have no idea why and then you don’t FIX THEM??? WTF!!

  • Debra

    2014/03/20 at 10:20 pm

    Paleo still true girl, it’s just that you are still human. And for this we are thankful.

  • Debra

    2014/03/20 at 10:21 pm

    Baking soda taken daily. Germs cannot live in an environment that is so high in alkaline. Allegedly.

  • Debra

    2014/03/20 at 10:24 pm

    Unrelated, but did someone talk Marlo out of her lisp? You haven’t typed in a lisp in a while seems like! Because…..DUCKS…..

  • Engred

    2014/03/20 at 10:42 pm

    Holy Shite – with the title and the pic I thought the dog had died !! Don’t scare me like that !!

  • Amanda Greer

    2014/03/20 at 11:08 pm

    The most important question: Which phone case do YOU use? I’m constantly on the lookout for a better one.

    Also, I hope you feel better soon!

  • Daisy

    2014/03/20 at 11:08 pm

    Vitamin D and a probiotic (Culturelle is my favorite)…both help kick my colds faster.

  • punkrebelmama

    2014/03/21 at 1:12 am

    Oregano oil every 20 min on the bottoms of your feet. And soak in a bath filled with hot water and a pint of real apple cider vinegar added to it. Soak until the water is cool, and drink loads of water. WORKS EVERYTIME

  • Corby

    2014/03/21 at 3:49 am

    I had not had even a cold for eight years. I’m vegan. I got cocky and came down with the granddaddy of a head cold. Five days in bed, twelve days in and still blow my nose all the livelong day. Maybe it is the end of my cold’s term, don’t they last about two weeks? But, I have always heard that an onion on the bedside table of a sick person will absorb all the badness in the room, microbes, germs, etc. and helps restore the health of the patient. Well, I ddi it on the thirteenth day and for two days I have not even blown my nose once. I went from blowing it constantly to not blowing it at all. This is significant to me. They say one must not cut an onion and if not using it all, avoid trying to save it in plastic or wrap of any kind. It will absorb the bad stuff wherever it is and you don’t want to ingest the bad stuff it collects. I am a believer. Onions, make you cry AND restore your health. Who knew?!

  • Zane

    2014/03/21 at 9:22 am

    The cloudy, raw, unfiltered kind, not that overly processed clear stuff in the grocery store.

  • neekeem

    2014/03/21 at 9:56 am

    I am home dying from the plague (it might be a cold), so I’ve no help.

    I do think this is a good time to eat a hot dog and tell paleo to suck it. You can make friends with it when you feel better.

  • REK981

    2014/03/21 at 12:53 pm

    I agree! Don’t supress – just like children with fevers. Unless my girl is totally lethargic she gets nothing!! I do a detox bath or epsom salts, lemon (juice and rind) in the hottest water I can stand, plus a few drops of any essential oils I have on hand, lavendar, or citrus are nice. Drink a good amount of cool water while in the tub for at least 20 minutes. Bone broth and lots of extra Vit D, Vit B complex, zinc. I have slipper socks that have heated inserts in them. I lived in them upon receipt at Christmas until the temp rose above freezing for more than 30 seconds. Be well.

  • REK981

    2014/03/21 at 12:58 pm

    What kind of phone? The last phone I had pre-Apple has a slide out keyboard and I had a good 10 different cases all bought via ebay for cheap. I miss that keyboard…

  • Kate H

    2014/03/21 at 5:18 pm

    It’s a Motorola Photon Q–great phone!

  • Chelsea

    2014/03/21 at 7:58 pm

    Spirulina! I credit it with avoiding the horrible flu that took down the rest of my household over Christmas, and avoiding all the crud my son brings home. Supplements or powder, you can put it in smoothes!

  • Sally

    2014/03/21 at 11:11 pm

    Sinus pressure? I have a non-conventional remedy. My doctor once recommended humming because it loosens up the, well, snot, in your sinus cavities. I, being too tired and sick to be bothered with the exhausting task of humming, opted for another method of sinus vibration. Wait for it…yep. I wrap a t-shirt around my…humming device…and apply it to my forehead, under my eyes, on my nose, etc. Sure, I’ve gotten one or two, “What in the *hell* are you doing?!??” comments, but it’s also seriously helped. No joke. My experience is that the A/C versions bring more power to the table than that battery operated varieties. They relieve sinus pressure better, too.

  • Meg

    2014/03/22 at 8:34 pm

    I rarely use hand sanitizer because I believe that the cracks and cuts in my skin from the drying effects of it are worse than any germs which might be left on my hands after washing. My skin does not like living in an environment less humid than the Gulf Coast and consequently reacts poorly to hand sanitizer.

    Also, Coco is cute.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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