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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!


#96. I once had strep throat and mono at the same time.

And you know what? As bad as it sounds, I think I’d recommend it.

See, for your usual sicknesses — the flu, or a garden-variety cold — doctors won’t give you the good shit. Oh, they might throw you an antibiotic bone if you’re lucky, but nothing that’ll make you feel better. You’re gonna suffer through your illness, and probably for several days. It’s a ‘wait and see’ kind of approach.

But start screwing around with Streptococcus, boy, and their ears perk up. Throw in another goodie — like mononucleosis — and they’ll actually dig into the vault and pony up some medicine. Real, live, stinkin’ meds. No lie.

Now, I get sick every year. It’s usually just a cold, but every once in a while it’ll turn into bronchitis. It’s been happening since I was a kid, and I’ve learned to deal with the coughing and wheezing and shit like that. So I don’t run to the doctor every time I get a sniffle. But this one year back in school, I felt like hell. Death warmed over, then left out overnight, and thrown back in the fridge. I’d had a cold for a day or two already, but I woke up one morning and just felt… different. Fluids of varying colors and volumes were coming out of just about every hole you wouldn’t want them to come out of. (Okay, for the record, I think my ears stayed out of it. I can always trust my ears to stick by me.) I was exhausted, weak, and achy. And I wasn’t hungover, so I knew something was wrong.

I remember shuffling to the campus doctor’s office, and hearing that strep was going around. Great. I saw the nurse, and she took a cheek scraping and gave me some medicine. Some off-the-shelf crap. Robitussin, or something equally as puny. Apple juice disguised as cough syrup. Bitches. I needed something good, dammit, before all the fluid in my body was gone, and I was dried up like a big prune. Or Bea Arthur’s ass, I don’t know which would be worse. (Who am I kidding; of course I know which would be worse! I was just trying to be polite.)

Anyway, I went home for a while and tried to sleep. The nurse could see that I had no business in class, at least, so I was off the hook there. But still miserable. Luckily, the lab tested my samples the same day, and found the strep. And mono, to boot. With my last ounces of strength, I pulled my shit together and walked back to the infirmary to pick up my new medicine prescribed by the doctor.

I expected something a little better. Extra-strength Nyquil, maybe. Something with a touch of booze in it, to take the edge off. I was pleasantly surprised when I got my little bottle of syrup, however. I forget what brand it was, though I remember that you could buy their watered-down shit off the shelf, too. But this was no pansy-ass honey sauce. This shit had codeine, and fifteen percent alcohol. You could get a buzz off the shit, if you took a couple of doses back to back. I was too tired to think about that, really. All I wanted to do was sleep, which is what I did about ten minutes after I sucked down the first spoonful.

And I slept, and slept, and slept. Oh, I woke up enough to shuffle from the bed down to the living room to watch TV with the guys. Lying down, of course, and about twelve percent conscious. And I must have eaten in there somewhere, though where I got the food from and what I ate is still a mystery to me. I was a walking, talking zombie. (Well, actually, a shuffling, slurring zombie, if memory serves. But isn’t that how all zombies should be?) I went through that little bottle in three days, right on schedule, and I think I slept for all but about an hour of it. It was wonderful.

At the end of the ordeal, I had a little cough, but damn, was I refreshed! Twenty-two hours of sleep, or sleep-like drug-induced trance, will do that for you. Or to you. You really don’t have much say in the matter at the time. Still, there’s something about codeine that’s truly magical. At least, I assume it was the codeine. But for three days, I had this overly-medicated feeling that said to me, ‘Hey, dude. Look, if this is the shape we have to be in to get better, we must be really sick. So let’s just relax, and rest, and worry about nothing at all for a while. We’re not doin’ shit until this wears off.

And I didn’t. It was like a spa of some kind. Okay, so maybe it’s like a spa in a crack house, or a mental institution. But still — spa is as spa does, boys and girls. Any time you can honestly tell yourself, ‘I’m not liftin’ a finger, and I deserve it‘, and actually believe it, you’ve scored. And I spent three magical days in that heavenly bliss. All it took was a half-day of miserable, painful hellish illness to convince the powers that be to fork over the codeine, and I was in. Really, you should try it sometime. Go lick somebody who’s got mono, and swab strep onto your nostrils or something. It’ll suck for a while, but it’s worth it in the long run. Cross my heart.

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