What Does Not Kill You…

I know you are all breathlessly waiting for the follow up to last week’s post “Another Woman’s Life–The Sequel,” but I am breathless for an entirely different reason. No sooner had I clicked ‘Publish’ than I came down with a very nasty virus–not Covid, we checked–but honestly, it’s bad enough it deserves it’s own pandemic in my opinion.

* * * * *

I try all the usual remedies–guzzling guaifenesin in liquid and tablet form–I’ve yet to crush it up and freebase it but it’s only a matter of time. I gobble down Mucinex-D daily and worry about running out. I go to a nearby drug store and it is only when I am standing in front of the counter asking for a controlled substance that I remember that I don’t have my Driver’s License (don’t ask) and this means I can’t get any of the good stuff medication that requires a State I.D.

No doubt, the clerk now thinks I am a drug dealer–or at least someone who pretends to be sick to get ahold of pseudoephedrine to make meth. (If so, that means I’m totally a method actor–just not a very good one. Despite my very realistic coughing fits, I could tell the girl behind the counter was not buying my death’s door act at all.) She politely confirms that I am out of luck and she is probably on the phone to her supervisors about this ‘shady lady’ as soon as I left. Good thing it isn’t my usual Walgreens or it might be awkward when I go back now that my license is back in my possession again.

Side note: I could not buy amped up cold medications without my driver’s license but, as it turns out, I could vote without one. They accepted my Veteran’s I.D. with nary a word. I’m not sure what this says about our nation, but I was glad I could do my civic duty despite wanting to lie down and wait until the undertaker could make time for me in his busy schedule.

I forget every single time how bad colds and flus can be. I become the biggest whiner on the planet–when I can catch my breath to kvetch about it. But honestly, I start using my asthma inhaler just to see if it will help…but apparently the phlegm is made of sterner stuff than regular allergens are. Or maybe I don’t know exactly what an inhaler does? Because it doesn’t make a dent in the spastic coughing, wheezing, congested mess that is my lungs.

Hot tea at least provides comfort, if not a cure.

Honey Lemon Tea
I finally get brave enough to try some bold teas. Lemon with added honey hits the spot!

Then the post nasal drip gets on board the phlegmy-express train through pulmonary town and I stop sleeping.

My friend assures me that this is a good thing:

You are probably nearing the end and this is your sinuses letting go.” Cheery friend says.

Or it’s trying to drown me.” I say, hacking something up to prove my point.

After two days of no sleep, I get desperate. I ransack my cupboards and find something I’d bought at a Farmer’s Market this summer but never tried–an Elderberry Kit that promises to boost immunity or help you recover from an illness faster.

I am, by nature, suspicious of homeopathic remedies. But I have had it with the coughing, hacking, choking and various other words, like sputum, that make me gag when I’m healthy. I’m willing to drink a witch’s brew if it means I’ll be over this crud faster.

In less than half-an-hour, the deep purple liquid is ready. I gulp some down and post of my desperate plight on social media. It only takes a few concerned…nay alarming…replies to have me Googling what I should have Googled before I drank anything containing this particular fruit:

While ingesting elderberry extract or syrup is totally safe, don’t go picking the berries and popping them in your mouth—they need to be cooked. The unripe fruit and other parts of the plant can cause cyanide poisoning, with effects like nausea or vomiting.

So…I’ve been drinking cyanide juice to get over a cold? I should be more worried about this, but after last night’s nose-flute sonata in the key of squeak, I’ve decided it’s worth the risk.

As they say, what does not kill you makes you stronger.

32 thoughts on “What Does Not Kill You…

  1. My sincerest sympathies. I’ve been there. I once was coughing so hard and so loudly that the dog was barking in response. My doctor found that amusing but I was too sick at the time to see the humor. I can laugh now… I’m hoping the berries in the kit were cooked and that magic occurs and by the time you read this you are recovered!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You may rest assured the berries did not kill me. The subsequent Covid I caught on the rebound did it’s damndest though. I can be thankful for the vaccine if this is what it feels with some protection.


    1. I’d thinking I’d better bone-up on my Nietzsche then. I only know one other quote: “Man is a a rope stretched across an abyss.” (I Googled this only to discover that is a truncated version of a much longer expression. However, in our modern era, I think Nietzsche would twitter in sound bites, don’t you. All the best nihilists do!”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lot of fruit contains cyanide in the seeds. It tastes terrible and is supposed to discourage you from crunching them.

    You could kill yourself with enough crushed apple seed or peach pit core. The seeds are designed to be swallowed whole by herbivores, passed thru intact, and deposited with a bit of fertilizer and moisture, Or not be swallowed at all.

    A clever human with the right knowledge can prepare the seeds such that the little bit of cyanide is either neutralized or driven off. Roasting and boiling are most common.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Fred,

      You have a disturbing amount of information to hand. I sincerely hope you never offer me a ‘special’ apple cider. I will look at it suspiciously and say, ‘No, thank you.” Though, I do appreciate your enthusiasm in the retelling.

      As to death by peach pits and apple seeds–the quantity required to suffocate/crush me would probably begger most serial killers. So, making cyanide would be the easier course of action, I think.

      This is where we find out if the CIA or FBI has ‘eyes and ears’ on the internet looking for wackadoodles plotting death and mayhem. We can only hope.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. LOL!. I learned about the poisonous characteristics of various pits and seeds as a child. A long time ago, there was guy named J.I Rodale,. kind of a health guru and founder of Organic Gardening and Farming magazine and Prevention magazine. (Believe it or not I was an avid reader of OG&F as a preeteen!) He was wondering if apple seeds were good for you, so he started eating hands full of them. Soon he started having health problems and the side of his face became paralyzed. When he stopped eating, the problem went away. After all this happened he started to do research on the contents of apple seeds and discovered they contained cyanide.

        As long as you don’t crunch up the seeds they pass through without a problem. Crunching them up exposes the poison. It struck me that’s ought to have done the research before the eating.

        We have lots of plants out here with traces of cyanide in their pits/seeds. Holly leafed cherry is one that is extremely common. It has a pit that is surrounded by a thin layer of yummy cherry and in turn enclosea a large soft seed. Native Americans discovered that you could drive the cyanide off the seed by roasting or boiling and have a nutritious source of food. If you don’t do this, eating a hand full can make you sick.

        Toyon, “Christmas berry,” is another common fruit out here. When green it contains enough cyanide to kill you if you ate a lot. Wait until it is ripe and the cyanide level is greatly reduced. Bitds and mammals will eat it but it will given them mild diarrhea, which is to the toyon’s dvantage. Humans can cook the ripe berry to make them safe to eat.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You wouldn’t happen to be a mystery writer, by any chance, would you? It sounds like you would have excellent source material if you should ever try your hand at WhoDunnits!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I thought about it once. I did some research into injuries caused by various kinds of violence. I had a character who got shot in the chest and I wanted something that was potentially fatal but “fixable” in the field if you knew what you were doing. I settled on cardiac tamponade.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe the cyanide kills the germs faster than it kills you. *Every* time I get sick, I get post nasal drip that transfers all the crap in my sinuses into my lungs where it sits for the next four weeks causing a flemy cough that causes my coworkers to look at me with fear and makes me think of the word Coricidin with every cough because apparently my mother gave me Coricidin when I had a cough like this as a kid and now they are somehow linked with a Pavlovian connection. Hope you feel better quickly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was my thought! Sick the poison after the germs, so to speak. (Not sure if that’s the correct ‘sick’ or maybe it should have been ‘sic’? I’m in a grammarian quandary with that word choice.)

      I am on the mend after a very long–subjectively–time coughing. Let’s hope I’m done getting sick for the foreseeable future.

      Oh, and my grandmother swore by using Merthiolate on tonsils whenever we got strep throat as a kid. As an adult, I looked it up and it was/is poisonous. So, maybe those old remedies were the source of the phrase “What doesn’t kill you…” at least in part.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will say this, I finally tried lemon/honey/sugar and tea and am a fan. It was one of the few things I could tolerate while I was at the worst point.

        The Russian peoples would make it with vodka instead of tea, in case you want to make a balls-to-the-wall, hairy-knuckles kind of cure. You can make both and offer your wife a choice. Your decision to dress like Morpheus in The Matrix is totally optional. I will hope you are both on the mend very soon!


      2. Sober is good. I highly applaud sober! Though, there were days when I cursed the fact I gave up alcohol and then got hit by a pandemic/isolationist lifestyle. I will hope you are coping with all this nonsense bravely AND soberly.


      3. I’m deep enough into being a nondrinker that the desire is pretty much gone. Finding some decent alcohol free beers helps. I’ve thought a few times about my probable dinking habits if I were still drinking when the pandemic hit. My consumption would definitely have ramped up. Bravely? No, I freak out just about every day.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m lucky, though, only in the most ironic sense of the word. We caught Covid immediately after having the first virus. It was like a very insalubrious buy-one get-one sale on contagions. Avoid that sale, if you can! We are, thankfully, recovering now.


      1. I am glad to hear that you are on the mend! Everyone’s experience with COVID in particular is so different, that alone can be a tough infection! Someone I used to go to church with passed away a few months ago (he was younger than me actually), one of my husband’s nieces still can’t smell or taste things normally and it’s been nearly a year since her bout with COVID. Some members of our therapy team got it last year (at different times from people they were living with or other clients), and each of them had different experiences in terms of severity. And I know of more than one person who is a long hauler with this. So I am glad to hear you are feeling better! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My son swears by elderberry tea. For me, it’s got to be mixed with something else. The turmeric tea definitely works for me. I can tell because I hate it. I drank turmeric tea throughout my time with the plague. Once I was able to leave my bed, day five or six, I drank orange herbal tea like a fiend. I am so sorry you had such a nasty cold. Tea is life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tea IS life! Thank you. Especially for defending the amount of money I shell out for tea. (Which is probably close to the gross national product of a moderately sized island somewhere in the South Pacific–where I’d really like to visit because it is so freezing cold here right now.

      You know what. I’m going to go upstairs and make tea! Turmeric or otherwise, it beats shivering down here waiting for Summer.

      And yes, Elderberry is for the birds…and I doubt they’d eat it either.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. How long have you been waiting for this opportunity? It seems impossible that I wrote about Nose Flutes in the same week someone produced a Nose Flute Sonata! Was I your muse, or was it serendipity?

      Attempted translation into Esperanto:

      Kiom longe vi atendis ĉi tiun ŝancon? Ŝajnas neeble, ke mi skribis pri Nazflutoj en la sama semajno iu produktis Nazflutsonaton! Ĉu mi estis via muzo, aŭ ĉu tio estis serendipo?

      Provo de traduko al Esperanto: by GOOGLE TRANSLATE


      1. I wrote the sonata a couple years ago. The fact that I got around to recording it the same week is pure serendipity.

        Liked by 1 person

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