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February 29, 2004

Leap day. Frankly, if I only feel this sick every four years, that’ll be too frequently. I have prairie dogs in my sinuses, throat, and bronchial passages. Hundreds of them. Lively and active prairie dogs. They’ve been increasing since about a week ago, but today I actually hit the point of being seriously unable to think, read complex prose, or do much of anything other than softly moan.

Apologies to the many people to whom I owe e-mail, phone calls, or other responses. No doubt I’ll either recover or be euthanised soon. [04:57 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Leap day.:

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 05:10 PM:

Looking at the lack of posts,I was wondering if one of you was sick. Don't apologize -- just crawl back to bed and get bettter.

I'm not sure what advice to give about the prarie dogs. Marmots, maybe, but I don't know about prarie dogs . . .

julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 06:42 PM:

We got the husband out of bronchitis in a few days by having him inhale steam from a pot of boiling water containing lemon juice and tea tree oil. Highly recommended.

Please feel better.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 07:01 PM:

If you're tempted to use a prairie dog vacuum, go ahead, but please keep it on the Low setting and keep your mouth open the whole time.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 07:09 PM:

Ick, ooo, yikes! Best wishes for a quick return to health: those prairie dogs are not good guests.

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 09:54 PM:

I would offer to come out there with a couple of varmint rifles for you and Teresa, but gunrunning just hasn't been the same since the Spanish Civil War.

And now suddenly I have the Warner Brothers image of a prairie dog hiding behind a steel silhouette target.

Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 09:54 PM:

Well, goddam, being sick sucks. Try to avoid euthanasia--I still want to hear you play that axe. I hope that's not where you caught the crud.

I haven't any really new curative suggestions. Just try to get a lot of sleep and let the reading come back in its time.

Melanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 10:29 PM:

I recommend a varmint filter. Drape a warm wrap around your shoulders, it should reach to the floor, and pull a stool over to the stove.

In a large sauce pan, combine 64 oz of water with
the juice of one lemon, squeezed
four eucalyptus leaves
a handful of crumbled dry lavender

heat to simmer and breath liberally

It won't kill 'em, but it will quiet them down.

Alternatively, from your local Whole Foods outlet or the like, procure a cylinder of Dead Sea Salts, eucalyptus flavor. Pour in bath and recline in the hottest water you can stand. You'll have to Drano the drain after this exercise, but it usually kills a fever.

Alternatively, make it all go away. Put a couple of tots of brandy in a mug with

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 10:34 PM:

But how do I fit the castle AAAAAAArgh into the mug?

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2004, 11:23 PM:

Both of us, Claude.

I've been feeding Patrick the fresh-squozen juice of tangelos, ortaniques, and honeybells, which is good for making you feel like a character in a Jack Vance story -- a consoling thing in itself -- and also packs a lot of vitamin C.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 12:55 AM:

I get bronchitis at least twice a year, and always have. Since antibiotics stopped helping about fifteen years ago, I've learned a few tricks. Melanie's suggestion is a good one. Another thing to boil and inhale is sage. The fresh kind. Do this before bed, because you'll be rather loopy when you're through.

A few sips of Hot Lemon and regular salt water gargles help, especially for the clearing up bit.
(Hot Lemon = lemon juice, honey, and fresh grated ginger, heated up, and drunk. Go easy on the honey if you have a phlegm-y cough).

And keep the humidifier on HIGH.

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 03:13 AM:

Fresh-squozen? Shouldn't that be "fresh-squoze"? Or maybe fresh-squoze is the noise the prairie-dogs make, plashing feather-footed through snot-sodden sinuses.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 06:39 AM:

It's the archaic form of the verb.

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 07:27 AM:

Teresa wrote:
"I've been feeding Patrick the fresh-squozen juice of tangelos, ortaniques, and honeybells, which is good for making you feel like a character in a Jack Vance story."

And I seem to have been lucky enough to have missed having the annual Winter Cold this past season. Usually without fail, I'll have a honking, snorting, dripping, gasping, shoot-me-please cold for a week or two in the winter, and again in the summer.

Celestial Seasoning's Bengal Spice Tea is a good soothant for sore throats and packed sinuses. (And since no single store carries their full product line, their website actually has a feature to direct you to the nearest store that stocks a particular blend. Cool!)

And Hilde and I have spent years in an ongoing argument over whether Jack Vance blows away Robert Heinlein in portraying "Competent Men". (Dare I blaspheme? Even when Heinlein's characters are -acting- competent, you still want them to Shut The Hell Up.)

(Literary conflict -- keeping marriage interesting for over a quarter century!)

janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 07:47 AM:

Heidi has had the same thing going into her second week. Has watched a LOTG of movies. Says not prarie dogs but more like bigger, slow-moving animals, maybe armadillos. And we have to give a major speech together this weekend in Ohio. At least it wasn't last weekend.

Keep on dosing.


Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 07:58 AM:

The only sure-fire remedy I ever had was supplied by my sister-in-law, the professional singer. Lemon juice, real maple syrup, brandy, and cayenne pepper mixed together, then mized with boiling water. The combination of drinking that while sniffing it (and unfortunately I don't have the recipie at hand) was a sovereign cure for UR problems, all the way up to marmots. Probably work on prarie dogs as well. I like your recipie too, Teresa.

The only problem is that since I am now a diabetic, all I can use is sugar-free Ricolas . . . bummer. Keep warm and get well soon.

Nina ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 08:07 AM:

Thinking healthy thoughts in your direction. Be gentle to yourselves.

Emma ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 09:33 AM:

Cuban Cure for All Sinus Ills: Vicks Vapor Rub in boiling water. Inhale Steam. Then rub some on your chest and get in bed. Stay there for two days, periodically drinking strong hot tea with lemon. You will get up healthy. Promise!

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 12:00 PM:

Where do you get the prairie dogs?

The house I grew up in was about a half mile from a large prairie dog town. I loved walking down there through the yucca and crunchy, stubbly Colorado weeds and looking for skulls. The rancher who owned the land tried poisoning them, probably out of a belief that the cattle would step in a hole and break their legs, but they always came back. And the rancher never tried to fill in the old holes, either, that I can recall.

In my decades of exile, the whole area of my old house has been 'developed.' What poison and predators could not do, little platted streets did. Funny, I used to dream of seeing those streets once in a while. I got the layout wrong, though.

But a couple of years ago, I was visiting my sister, and I went by the new location of the prairie dog community, a couple of miles away. As I drove past, there were the familiar little yellowish quadrupeds, standing tall to whistle warnings and dashing into their homes (warrens?), just like in the good old days.

Sigh. Prairie dogs.

Oh, I hope you feel better soon, Patrick. You know, they really aren't intended for internal use.

Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 12:14 PM:

A thousand apologies, but I have a horrible feeling that it was I who infected you with said rodents. I mean, I'm just getting over the nasty cold I hatched at Boskone (and which turned into mild bronchitis around the time I got home). And just about everyone else I know who was there seems to have come down with the same bug.

(As there were at least two other major conventions in the previous week at the Sheraton, I suspect it must have been doing the rounds there and the air conditioning from hell assisted it on its travels.)

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 01:43 PM:

Patrick, these people say that they can take care of prarie dogs, but I think that their approach is definitely for external use only . . .

David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 02:43 PM:

Doesn't anybody else reach for the medicine cabinet when they have a nasty head cold? I'm all for home remedies on a theoretical basis, but Dimetapp or the like (they all have essentially the same active ingredients) are cheap, they work, and they're perfectly safe as long as you aren't planning on taking a bunch of it and then going to Baseball Training Camp in 100 degree weather.

Pseudoepehdrine is a wonderful product. This is the 21st century after all...

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 03:01 PM:

Having had the dreaded lurgy for the last two days myself, I am all sympathy.

Get well soonest.

Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 04:37 PM:

Oh my. You're the only other person I know of who describes this sort of thing as rodents in the system. I'm happy to be past the "there's a pissy mole in my does" sensation, as well as the "mice with cheesegraters in my throat" sensation. Best wishes for a quick and full recovery.

My mother would recommend umeboshi.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 05:21 PM:

When I had The Cold From Hell a few years ago, I tried the Garlic Shock Cure.

1 whole bulb (bulb!) of garlic
1 cup lemon juice

Peel all the cloves and chop their ends off. With the flat of your knife blade, crush each one. Let them sit for 10 minutes or so.

Pour the lemon juice into a blender. Turn the blender up to puree with the lid on (and the middle taken out of the lid). Drop in the crushed garlic cloves one by one.

Hold your nose and swallow ALL OF IT.

This has many unpleasant side effects, but when I did it my cold was vastly improved the next day, and gone the day after that. Allicin, a compound produced when a substance in the juice reacts with a substance in the cell membranes of garlic, used to be known as "Russian penicillin," which is inaccurate, because penicillin doesn't kill viruses.

WARNING: However icky your mouth is after this, DO NOT brush your teeth. It will HURT. Don't make my mistake.

Disclaimer: I'm no doctor. Try this at your own risk.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 10:40 PM:

David Bilek asked: "Doesn't anybody else reach for the medicine cabinet when they have a nasty head cold? [...] Pseudoephedrine is a wonderful product."

[raises hand] I've been living on it for days. Indeed, my doctor prescribed (among other things) a preparation called Miraphen -- pseudoephedrine and guaifenesin.

At this point I'm also taking antibiotics, because it's definitely gone bacterial. Right now I'm having that energy jag that accompanies the first rush of destroying bacterial civilizations. Tomorrow or the next day I shall slump into a post-holocaust depression. After that I should gradually improve. (What, doesn't everybody have complex psychohistorical reactions to antibiotic use?)

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2004, 11:04 PM:

I think the roots of my science fiction career can be traced to fever dreams at age six under the combined influence of antibiotics and Flatland.

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2004, 09:14 AM:


"Heidi has had the same thing going into her second week. Has watched a LOTG of movies. Says not prarie dogs but more like bigger, slow-moving animals, maybe armadillos. And we have to give a major speech together this weekend in Ohio. At least it wasn't last weekend.

Keep on dosing."

I guess I really shouldn't mention that armadillos are carriers of leprosy. That'd be no comfort at all to somebody who imagines that they have an armadillo colony infesting their body :)

A.R. Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2004, 01:30 PM:

There is only ONE real cure for recurring sinus troubles: go to a specialist, and have your sinuses surgically enlarged.

I did, and all my chronic sinus problems went away. The surgeon anaesthesized my nose, went in with a knife, and literally carved out more space in my skull... sounds terrible, but it wasn't.

Go to a specialist now, and spare yourself future suffering... :)

aha ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2004, 01:50 PM:

Patrick: Stay inside with the lights off. If those prairie dogs come out and see their shadow, you'll be sick for another six weeks.

Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 12:50 PM:

Are prairie dogs known for drooling? I had not previously considered the possibility that my cold was caused by macro-organisms, but now that you mention it, my head is definitely infested with a bullmastiff, or maybe a Newfie. Explains so much.

As if that weren't crowded enough, a small nest of whistling kittens has now taken up residence in my lungs. They do their thing at the bottom of each exhale. A good cough merely rearranges them.

Blessings on Bruce, for suggesting the Bengal Spice tea.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 05:36 PM:

Anyone for a responsive reading of "Dogs in Elk?"

Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 12:36 AM:

Having heard so many people who went to Boskone got this particular bug, I think I'm now glad I stayed home (not that I had an option at the time).

Now I'm wondering if I really should go to Lunacon. I noticed that if I don't go to winter cons, I mysteriously don't get the flu anymore.