the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Continuing status

The cold that finally caught up with me in March stuck around for a few days, and my testimony in the church of Paleo got even more robust when it didn’t stick around for any longer. Colds on my father’s side of the family do not go away easily. In fact, today will be 28th consecutive day he’s had a nasty head cold. Yeah, 28. A month of being sick. He’d go to the doctor but they’d take a look at his last name, realize he’s a Hamilton, and tell him that the only cure is to have been born to another family. You can’t take antibiotics to cure you of your lineage.

But then… after only a few days of feeling very good I woke up last Friday morning and felt that familiar itchy feeling in my throat again, that pressure in my head. By Saturday night the cold had returned with even more strength, and it knocked me completely over. I called my father and moaned into the phone, “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT.” I didn’t specify exactly what was his fault and left him to wonder if I was referring to my cold, why I left the church, or the reason I have paid thousands of dollars in psychotherapy. Which one, Dad? WHICH ONE.

Why did it come back? I don’t know, because it missed me? Because I am simply adorable when blowing my nose? Because Hamiltons are the valedictorians of host organisms?

I’ve been analyzing this probably more than I should be, but everyone’s allergies this season are crippling. This past winter was very similar to the one Utah experienced in 2003, the one when I moved back here from LA. That spring was the first time I ever experienced seasonal allergies in my entire life. I had never before sneezed because of a blooming tree. Perhaps this is all happening because it’s the perfect storm of allergies and a weakened immune system. Or perhaps I could just stop coming up with theories, drink some DayQuil and shut up already.

I went back to the comments some of you left when I wrote about that cold to get some ideas about how to cope and/or speed up the recovery process of this illness, and well… this is going on:


What is that? Well, I am so glad you asked. That’s my nightstand, and if you look closely you will notice that there are two bowls of onions sitting there. Why? To absorb my germs. One reader (hi, Corby!) mentioned this little trick, 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.” The good news is that I haven’t gotten any worse. The bad news is that I haven’t gotten any better. The worst news is that years from now when Leta is swapping horror stories with her friends about the crazy things their mothers did when they were growing up she is going to have absolutely no competition whatsoever.

“My mother slept with onions next to her bed because she thought they warded off evil spirits. She was also a blogger.”

You might, too, notice a tall glass of warm honey/lemon water. I’ve been drinking three-four of those a day, and they help relieve my sore throat. There’s also my normal water bottle there that I’m using to drink 4,000 oz of water a day to try and drown this thing. I’ve also got some soothing essential oils I’ve been putting on the soles of my feet and spraying on my pillow. What you don’t see are the warm baths with apple cider vinegar and the vitamin D I’ve been popping. You guys turned me into a full-on hippy! I’ve got Joni Mitchell blasting on the tape deck in my Volkswagon bus and just now when I farted huge white daisies shot out of my butt.

The carrots and grapes? Not medicinal, but I haven’t had much of an appetite and I’m trying to keep some calories in my system. I even have a contraband corn tortilla there to nibble on. In the evening I’ll try to finish a bowl of something while catching up on a certain show that I fell behind on. I’m not going to say which one because there are so many spoilers out there and I keep running into them and I do not want to tempt you to spill the beans on any major plot points LA LA LA LA LA COVERING MY EARS. Fine. Does Tony Soprano die?

The monitor? I use it to spy on my neighbors. Hi, Diane!

The one piece of advice that I haven’t tried but think we should all film ourselves trying? This one from Sally: wrap a t-shirt around your vibrator and apply it to your forehead, eyes, and nose to loosen up the fluid in your sinus cavities and relieve pressure.

You go first.

  • femmegypsy

    2014/04/10 at 6:30 am

    “My mother slept with onions next to her bed because she thought they warded off evil spirits. She was also a blogger.” – Just snorted with laughter at my desk, I love that you are a full on hippy now that even farts flowers.

  • Jenay Hoover

    2014/04/10 at 7:44 am

    Here is something you should do….. Eat a spoonful of local honey every morning, it will have all of the local pollen in it and then you wont have the allergies…. I swear it works like a charm… go ahead… google it, I dare you. HA HA! Feel better!

  • Shauntel

    2014/04/10 at 7:47 am

    Hot and sour soup, as spicy and authentic (read: from the divey Chinese place down the street preferably) as you can get. Especially if you’re coughing – it clears your sinuses and burns the illness out of you, I swear.

    And this is very not hippy, but Mucinex D Maximum Strength (and maximum cost) is the only drug I’ve ever taken that helps break up the congestion in my head.

    Good luck!

  • LynArnold

    2014/04/10 at 8:07 am

    Hey! My parents had that exact same furniture! They still have the coffee table! I think it’s from the early 70s? Wow.

  • Mommiebear2

    2014/04/10 at 8:35 am

    Zinc!! Everytime I feel a cold coming on a start taking 1 pill a day and it either keeps it from coming on full tilt boogie or speeds the recovery up. I swear by it!

  • Kristhegirl

    2014/04/10 at 8:42 am

    Oh man, zinc makes me want to vomit within 10 minutes of taking it. Kind of negates any benefit I might get from it! I know other people who swear by it, too. I envy you!

  • P Dal

    2014/04/10 at 8:44 am

    Old Indian remedy that my mother has forced me to use for years is eating a mixture of tumeric powder, salt, and honey. Basically, take one of your larger dinner spoons, add a pinch of salt and turmeric, add the honey on top, and mix with your finger (there’s not real recipe). Then, just lick it off like it’s an ethnic lollipop. Don’t follow it up with any liquids for a while to allow the medicinal properties work on your now coated throat. Generally take it about twice a day. I hate to admit that my mother is right, but it does make a difference.

  • Jo D

    2014/04/10 at 8:45 am

    I second the soup! Last time I had a nasty cold I got a huge bowl of pho and put an almost equal amount of chili oil into it. I was sweating and crying and sniffling, but the next day I felt heaps better.

  • Heidi

    2014/04/10 at 8:46 am

    Thieves essential oil from Young Living. Put it on your feet or diffuse…… it’s a miracle worker. Hope you are feeling better soon.

  • Nichole

    2014/04/10 at 8:46 am

    My kids have been taking turns with a stomach virus for almost a month. I was just about to go cut up an onion to ward off the vomit spirits!

  • Polly Cole

    2014/04/10 at 8:49 am

    Juice of one lemon, 20 drops of oregano oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic. Shoot it like a shot as many times a day as your stomach can take. It will knock those bugs on their ass.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/04/10 at 8:49 am

    Yeah, I got it and one for the other side of the bed at a local store the specializes in mid-century furniture.

  • sw

    2014/04/10 at 8:51 am

    Oregano oil… One dropper full 3x a day = no more cold.

  • Karen Bernstein

    2014/04/10 at 8:53 am

    I didn’t see the NeilMed sinus lavage bottle. You and your dad should buy out the whole SLC inventory of this stuff because it will answer all of your prayers and his, too.

  • Hope Rutten

    2014/04/10 at 8:56 am

    I do acupuncture, also add butt loads of ginger to the honey/lemon tea and those damn sinus rinses. Oh, Chinese herbs from the hippie store in town. This combination broke the cycle of every cold turning into a sinus infection for four years. Until this Spring when I was diagnosed with a sinus infection. I blame the polar vortex that sat over us in Wisconsin for not being cold enough to kill all the germs.

  • deannamcneil

    2014/04/10 at 8:58 am

    Zinc used to make me vomit but if I take a tablet with food it’s not so bad. It does help…over time. Something that has totally surprised me because of the relief I have experienced is nettle tea. It does have an astringent effect on my swollen passages without the pain I often feel in my kidneys from antihistamines. Ice packs on the face often help too. Have you gotten a hug today? Hugs are also considered a miracle drug in my household, I recommend as many you can get! Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

  • chuck

    2014/04/10 at 8:59 am

    “okay…ima gonna let you finish but sinus disease is the greatest of all time.” Kanye. i lived in a large metropolitan city in Pennsylvania for over fifty years. I had allergies when i was young. i got shots for years and the allergies went away. I also had sinus disease and a deviated septum. i had my septum repaired. then i had my sinuses scraped. then i took Mucinex every 12 hours for years. i had mild sinuses infections for years, every August and February after that. but they were mild. I slept with a cool humidifier. all of this helped. #1 never take any medications that “dry up” your sinuses. you don’t want your sinuses to “dry up,” you want your sinuses to drain. Drying up your sinuses “traps” the infection. that’s when you get recurring sinus infections. visit a reputable ear nose and throat specialist. she will explain the above to you, scope your sinuses and provide you with real help. your father too. then i moved to a more tropical, humid climate. i have not had one sinus infection since i moved here over two years ago. i still take the Mucinex. since i moved here i have scaled back the Mucinex to once every 24 hours and i have been fine. the above worked for me. the other crap on your night table will not work. good luck.

  • tmb

    2014/04/10 at 9:14 am

    local raw honey. Pasteurization usually kills off the stuff in the honey that is anti-microbial. But yes, it works. I live in an area that the Native Americans called “the valley of sickness” because of how the pollen builds up, and local honey works!

  • Ashley S

    2014/04/10 at 9:16 am

    That’s funny. I’m a Utah native that moved to southeast Tennessee 4 years ago and I had never experienced allergies in my life until relocating. I’ve heard the local honey thing is supposed to work, but I haven’t tried it yet. Get well soon!

  • The Absent Minded Housewife

    2014/04/10 at 9:16 am

    I don’t have a cold or any allergies at the moment, but I do have a t-shirt wrapped vibrator applied to my forehead and a dream.

  • Tori Pearce

    2014/04/10 at 9:19 am

    Oddly, I see no warming socks. Too hippy dippy Joni Mitchell for you?

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/04/10 at 9:27 am

    I have those hanging from both ears.

  • elizabeth

    2014/04/10 at 9:28 am

    Hi fellow Oregonian! 🙂

  • Julie Chrisman

    2014/04/10 at 9:35 am

    You have a land line?

  • Kate

    2014/04/10 at 9:48 am

    My mother always SWORE by echinacea. I really don’t know if it ever made me any better, but she used to spike all my drinks and food with it when I was getting/was sick.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/04/10 at 9:57 am

    Those are remotes for the TV, but yes. I do have a land line. I live in a cellular black hole and if I didn’t I wouldn’t ever be able to conduct a conference call.

  • Kristina S.

    2014/04/10 at 10:25 am

    Another vote for local raw honey. My daughter had a perpetual cold/allergies for about 1.5 years. I started giving her honey every day about a year ago and she’s had only a couple minor ones and they don’t last more than 3-4 days. Also elderberry syrup to give your immune system a boost. Oh, and fermented cod liver oil. Doesn’t sound so great, but whatever works…

  • Delphine

    2014/04/10 at 10:56 am

    Steens Raw 25+ Manuka Honey is fantastic, I can’t recommend it highly enough! It’s expensive, but SO worth it! It should always be eaten at room temperature – you should never heat it up by putting it in tea or anything like that because that will ruin all of its fantastic healing properties. As soon as I feel a cold coming on or just feel run-down, I’ll take a teaspoon of it (just scoop some out of the bottle with a spoon and let it dissolve in your mouth for a few minutes before swallowing). If I’m really feeling awful, I take it several times a day. It works wonders!

  • menderz

    2014/04/10 at 11:22 am

    I found out the hard way that I’m ALLERGIC to Echinacea.

  • Dayna

    2014/04/10 at 11:24 am

    In reference to your allergies, try to find. Doc or holistic chiropractor who does NAET muscle testing and allergy clearing. Totally looks and sounds hokey, but it’s been life changing for us. Feel better!

  • Tori Pearce

    2014/04/10 at 11:45 am

    No wonder your ears are still stuffed up. I hope you feel better; doesn’t seem your sense of humor has been affected.

  • Blake

    2014/04/10 at 12:16 pm

    2 shots bourbon. Hot water, fresh lemon, and honey. For what its worth, you will feel different. 🙂

  • smalina

    2014/04/10 at 12:38 pm

    drinking a few tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (diluted in water) every morning. I haven’t had so much as a cold since I started doing this two years ago (hopefully I didn’t just curse myself.) Whenever I’m exposed to a sick person I down an extra glass immediately. Works for me.

  • smalina

    2014/04/10 at 12:39 pm

    also, the Neti pot and gargling salt water help my loads with allergies.

  • Lindzgrl

    2014/04/10 at 12:45 pm

    The cider vinegar thing has worked like magic for me, too! But I just drink the tablespoons (2 in the am, 2 in the pm) straight. I’d rather get the grossness over quickly, like taking a shot, than suffer through a whole glass of it diluted.

  • Michelle S.

    2014/04/10 at 12:56 pm

    I absolutely swear by zinc chewing gum and really don’t bother with anything else. Zinc lozenges tend to kill my taste buds for a day or two and zinc tablets sometimes upset my stomach. But the zinc in chewing gum coats your throat and sinuses while you chew, swallow, and breathe. I have not had a severe cold (or even one that lasted more than a few days) for many, many years. If you do try the gum, chew it slowly or sorta stow it in your cheek to help it last longer.

  • Carin Sweerman

    2014/04/10 at 1:10 pm

    I have the same coffee table, I bet and two end tables, in my living room. I was thinking the nightstand looked very similar. Got mine from my folks when they changed the room, god, eons ago.

  • JKA

    2014/04/10 at 1:36 pm

    I literally talked less about metastatic cancer than you do about a cold. Suck it up.

  • ahoova

    2014/04/10 at 2:00 pm

    Time for a neti pot to clear out the sinuses …

  • tmb

    2014/04/10 at 2:43 pm

    LOL yup *waves hello*

  • amykj

    2014/04/10 at 3:13 pm

    Super hot bath with one cup epsom salt and one cup baking soda.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/04/10 at 3:45 pm

    I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but I have a cold. A really bad one. And I have it. And it’s bad. And I have a cold.

  • Dee

    2014/04/10 at 3:49 pm

    My kids swear the oregano oil I give them when they are sick helps. They call it magical. The onion thing is a myth. Now if you actually ate the raw onions you’d get more healing out of them than having them sit around to absorb viruses.

  • emilyplays

    2014/04/10 at 4:04 pm

    Okay – you really haven’t lived the hippy cold experience until you’ve tried the surprisingly effective wet sock treatment. Link here for you immediate use 🙂

  • Lori Schwartz

    2014/04/10 at 4:10 pm

    Um, I’m sorry you are sick but I HAVE THAT SAME TABLE. I mean, it was my parents table. I grew up with it and now I have it. A whole series to match actually. I have never seen it elsewhere. Where did you get that table? I didn’t realize how mid-century modern my parents were until I got the tables and went, wait, what? Those are cool tables.

  • Carla

    2014/04/10 at 5:31 pm

    Eat the onion raw. You will no longer know you have a head cold.

  • Jennifer

    2014/04/10 at 6:40 pm

    Do you read Snopes? It’s the most reliable internet assessment of urban myths–and onions and germs is a persistant one.

  • Katybeth

    2014/04/10 at 9:39 pm

    Enjoy your cold. Use it as an excuse for being crabby and canceling anything you don’t want to do. Surrender. Life will pick up where it left off.

  • Holly

    2014/04/11 at 4:28 am

    If you alternate pushing the roof of your mouth with your tongue and pushing the bridge of your nose with your finger in a back and forth kind or rhythm for a minute or so it shifts the mucus out of your sinus’. There’s science behind it but I prefer to pretend it’s dark magic I’m doing.

  • beth

    2014/04/11 at 8:05 am

    CVS brand Mucinex D is exactly the same, and costs about half.
    Also, Zyrtec or Claritin – those are every-day-through-the-season drugs, though, and you might not want that. It needs to build up and stay in your system to be effective.
    If all else fails, sushi. With lots of wasabi.

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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