Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down?!

What do a blizzard, NyQuil and candles all have in common? They all happened this past weekend. It wasn't the 2 and a half feet of snow covering the city or the loss of heat, power and hot water that got to me most or the lighting our place with candles. It was finding out that NyQuil has high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. What a disappointment, especially after taking it every night consecutively. Imagine a "remedy" full of sugar!

It happened right under my careful little nose. I check ingredients of everything-even soap. But several nights ago I realized that coughing all through the night wasn't just affecting my sleep--it was keeping my husband awake, too. That night I coughed so hard my nose bled and I threw up. I could hardly breathe because of the phlegm draining into my throat. I was miserable but determined to get through this au natural. Herbs, vitamins, tea, whole foods, water--YES, over-the-counter crap--NO WAY.

But I bit the bullet that night and climbed out of bed around midnight to enter the wild snow storm outside. I was delirious. My cough continued as I climbed over snow drifts and breathed in ice cold wind all the way to the grocery store.

I told myself I was doing the right thing. I had to get sleep and I hadn't had good sleep for days. I convinced myself to grab a bottle of NyQuil as soon as I got there and not let myself deliberate or check ingredients--but I was only surmising the chemical ingredients that would freak me out. Sugar never crossed my mind. When I arrived at the store I did just as I envisioned doing--I quickly grabbed a bottle of red nighttime NyQuil from the bottom shelf and threw it in my basket.

I guzzled the red, syrupy stuff before going back to bed and slept better than I had in quite a while. Every night I tried to skip the NyQuil but I had this crazy cough that started at night and would not let up. So I turned to the bottle several nights in a row and when Jeff got the cough, we toasted our elixir. Day 3 or 4 it occurred to me I hadn't checked the ingredients for sugar. I was so concerned with being scared off by the chemicals I didn't want to see, I had forgotten about sugar. High fructose corn syrup is listed after all the food colorings and before the glycols. Yuck. Did I still take the stuff after I found this information out? Sadly, yes. I felt trapped--either be awake most of the night coughing up my lungs or give myself a break and sleep soundly so my body can rest and repair. I chose the latter but only had to take it a few more times.

I feel taken advantage of. Gross. Angry. I was put in a catch-22 situation. I was not able to trace it back to anything or anybody which is disconcerting but I have let it go. I heard that some people have the cough for up to 8 weeks...mine has been less than two weeks, so I guess being healthy to begin with helps lessen the duration of such things.

Our power went out Friday night. No heat, electricity or hot water. The amount of snow that fell weighed down tree branches everywhere, including my neighborhood where the telephone pole and all the wiring fell and became tangled in the branches. Workers worked all day Saturday to restore power and by almost midnight we had some power. Still no heat or hot water. Sunday, Jeff and I made the most of it. We decided to build our own internal heat by walking around outside. It was crazy to see everything covered in a blanket of snow. Some cars completely covered, other cars with giant trees laying on the hood, broken and fallen.

We made the most of the fallen snow. Instead of rotting inside and getting cabin fever, we made an effort to be out in daylight. We found a great hill in our neighborhood where we tobogganed and took mad photographic shots of each other.

When we returned home, the hot water was back in business. It was a perfect way to end our perfect weekend. I definitely take too much for granted--my health, the weather, hot water, heat, etc.

The extra-perfect part of the end of our weekend included two new pairs of slippers.

Now my job is to write a complaint letter to NyQuil....


Kate said...

Hehe- this reminds me of the jello story... we always return to the old favorites in our greatest time of need ;)
I like to use a Eucalyptus balm for coughs (it has some other essential oils in it and no petroleum products- www.islandthyme.com), and any kind of herbal tea I can find at my local shop that helps with soothing my cough. Also, I find Chinese herbs to be very helpful for colds. I haven't had a cough in a loong time, but I find them to be very effective for sore throats and sinus infection issues. Sounds like you live in a big city back east? I bet you have a great Chinese herbalist nearby.
Feel better!

will said...

SO wonderful! I enjoy reading your blog so much. As for the ingredients in cold remedies.... have at 'em. They add aspartame and corn syrup to some of the kids ones. A little poison with your remedy? Where is the FDA? Should medication really taste like candy anyway? If you're sick enough to take that stuff you'll suck it down no matter how horrible it tastes. Most kids think medicine is yucky anyway, so why lace it with trash?

A friend of mine says she boils red wine with pepper and it chases congestion away. I've never tried it.

My Year Without said...

Kate-Thanks for the tips! I did manage to find a Eucalyptus balm as an expectorant, but I really didn't want to be using this and coughing all night. I had no problem letting my body cough and get rid of the junk during the day, but because I value the repair that happens with good sleep, I felt like I had no choice but to choose over-the-counter. Although, I didn't take into consideration Chinese herbs....I'm sure we have a place locally where I could find just what I need. My problem is that I am car-less AND our city (the DC area) was buried in snow so public transportation wasn't happening!

Thanks for the reminder, though. I will look into Chinese herbs in the future. I have had great success with them in the past.

Will-I totally forgot to mention my conundrum with cough drops. Almost impossible to find sugar free! The sugar-free Ricola's have aspartame and I was finding corn syrups and sugars in others, like you did. Very discouraging. I ended up with a great cough drop in the end, however, that I found at MOM's... Darn, I forgot the brand...maybe "Zand" or something like that. It was sugar-free and elderberry. They were delicious but I like your point that they should NOT taste like candy! What's the deal with that?!

Farty Girl said...

I'm a fan of Olba's cough drops... as well as Fisherman's Friend. I have no idea if they have sugar though. Olba's probably does.

Sorry to hear about your NyQuil dose. Isn't it frustrating to want to be healthy, and to be FORCED to consume something that isn't? Thanks, America!

That said, I think you did the right thing. You weren't going to get any better without sleep, and you needed meds to get that sleep. Any herbalist will tell you that herbs can only do so much. Modern medicine can be very helpful and is often necessary for healing.

I hope you are feeling better!

Mary said...

hey, I just found your blog and am loving it.
the only remedies we use in our family are all homemade.
If you have a horrible cough, put onions on your feet and then put socks on. My husband and daughter were sick a few weeks ago with coughs and this really works wonders. no poisons, no tricks, just real life remedies. I also have other ones, tribal ones (we're lakota) so email me if you want to know more!