Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's not a race thing

I am sick of being sick. I woke up Thursday morning with yet ANOTHER terrible head cold. I taught yesterday with a terrible head cold in which I had a coughing jag in the middle of class that had my students seriously worried that I was going to collapse. And a colleague of mine warned me that I should take it easy over the next four days and really rest and recuperate because he had something similar that lasted 6 weeks--in fact, I may not have caught something new; this may be a continuation of the head cold I got right after Christmas.

Why am I starting with this? Because when you are sick, the thing you think about the most is being healthy.

I am a professor who teaches and researches on the topic of race and anti-racism. My blog is called "Mixed Race America." But right now, I want to figure out how I can: stop coughing, get my voice back (I'm barely audible and when I do utter sounds I sound more like a toad than a human), and just feel better all around (I'll spare you the gory details of what I'm going through--lets just say, it's not pretty). In other words, I'm not thinking about race.

My friends and colleagues know that I think, and talk, about race a lot. Which is why I guess I can't be surprised that I get accused of turning something into a "race" thing or using coded "racial" language, even when I'm not (which was the topic of a blog post a few days ago).

I also get pigeonholed a lot, as an Asian American woman who works on ethnic American literature and race. At one cocktail party, I was introduced to my friend's neighbor, who asked what I did for a living. When I mentioned that I taught in the English department at Southern U., he said, "Oh, so you teach Asian American literature." Thinking my friend had mentioned me and what I did, I said, "Oh, did "E" tell you that?" and he said, "No, I assumed you taught Asian American literature because what else would you teach? You're Asian." To which I replied, "Actually, I almost wrote my dissertation on Jane Austen. There are a LOT of other authors I teach besides Asian American writers." The neighbor just shrugged dismissively. For him, I was an Asian American person who, of course, must work on Asian American literature because my identity limits my interests.

But here are a few things about me that tend to surprise folks:

*John Steinbeck is my favorite author.
*I golf.
*Italian is my favorite ethnic cuisine.
*The first album I ever purchased with my own money was AC/DC's "Back in Black." (The soundtrack to "Grease" was technically the first lp I ever owned, but I received that as a birthday gift).
*My partner is a non-person of color: in other words, Southern Man is white.

Anyway, I have an assignment for those of you out there reading this.

The first thing: Please listen to my fellow blogger and cyberfriend (I say cyberfriend because while I've never met her or even spoken to her live and in person, I feel like we are kindred spirits and friends) Tami doing her weekly podcast, "The Best of What Tami Said" (click here). Tami had invited me to participate in a discussion of the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama and the topic of race, but considering I don't have much of a voice and what voice I have could peel paint, I've had to decline, which distresses me to no end. BUT...I'll be one of her devoted listeners tomorrow (Sunday, Jan. 18) at 4pm EST. And definitely check out her blog, "What Tami Said"--it's a MUST READ.

The second thing: If you have suggestions of any type of remedies (home, homeopathic, organic, pharmaceutical, physical, metaphysical) to help with a really bad head cold (or to prevent against future colds and illnesses), I AM ALL EARS (or EYES). Seriously, I've been told to take

*Wellness forumla
*a flu shot
*saline nasal solution

I really am eager to know how you all stay healthy or get healthy once you are sick. Because lets face it, regardless of how we identify or feel about race, we are all susceptible to those germs out there this time of year.


Third Mom said...

Delurking to say that I love your blog, but also to offer a bit of experience with Mucinex in case you go that route. I had a reaction to the Mucinex-D, the one you have to get from the pharmacist, the first time I took it. I was on an anti-biotic at that time. Second time I had less trouble, but I offer the information just in case. You may want to test it at night so you don't have a reaction while driving.

Hope you feel better soon!

CVT said...

Here's something worth trying:

I had a black friend tell me that this was a "traditional Chinese remedy" (I'm Chinese, never heard of it - kind of have my doubts), but it worked.

So - put on a pair of cotton socks. With said socks on, soak your feet in warm water (til socks are fully damp, but not dripping). Then put on a pair of wool socks OVER your damp cotton socks. Finally, snuggle up in bed and pass the f- out.

I seriously doubted this until I tried it - and it REALLY worked, clearing out congestion, letting me sleep, etc. Give it a shot. Get back to those "Chinese" roots . . .

Anonymous said...

My mum always used to feed me chillis (in stuff) and laksa. Don't know if it is psychological or not, but I still do it now and it still works.

Greg said...

Hope you feel better. For preventative measures (too late, I realize, but something to keep in mind for the future), I recommend a daily vitamin. To relieve some symptoms, I like drinking hot water with a little bit of lemon juice and honey stirred in.

Jennifer said...

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I'm feeling *slightly* better today--I think mostly it's the amount of sleep I've been getting (8+ a night, unlike the previous week where the beginning of the semester had me to bed late and up early).

Third Mom, thanks esp. for delurking and telling me about your reaction to Mucinex-D--I tend to be allergic to a fair amount of stuff (like Penicilin--learned that the hard way) so I appreciate having a heads up on possible reactions.

CVT...I confess I did not try your remedy. There are two things that are problematic, for me, about your friend's remedy, despite your own claims of it working (which I do believe--and if I get worse again, I may bite the bullet). The first is, I hate wearing socks to bed. Always have. I can't sleep if I am wearing socks--and I end up subconsciously taking them off in the middle of the night (this was in freezing cold Boston where you want to have socks on your feet, but none-the-less, I ended up putting them on to bed and waking up without them in the morning). The second problem for me is the wet sock thing. If you wanted to figure out a way to torture me, you'd make me wear damp socks. If I had to wear damp socks for over an hour, I'd fold like a deck of cards--I'd tell you the location of weapons of destruction. I'd give you my Mom's secret recipes. So you can imagine the combination of wearing TWO pairs of socks, one of them damp, made me go squeamish inside just to read your suggestion. But I do appreciate the suggestion--and like I said, if I get desperate I just may well try it.

Stephiepenguin, I think there IS something to the food we ate in childhood when we were sick that makes us feel better. For me, it's my Mom's egg drop soup. Every time I feel awful I crave that soup, and since I know how to make it and it's simple, I usually throw a pot on and I feel better.

And Greg--thanks for the preventative advice--I should be better about taking a daily multivitamin, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. Your suggestion of warm water with tea/honey is also good--and very Chinese of you (recently had this discussion with a Chinese friend, who is from China, who said that Americans like their drinks on either extremes of hot or cold, whereas Chinese believed in balance and like their drinks warm).

Cipher said...

my biggest advice is real rest

stop work (researching and teaching) and take off if you have to, plus you're being a vector by coming into campus anyway... so sit at home, read pleasure reading and sleep a lot

hang in there!

also, i had a cold turn into bronchitis, but it was because i tried too hard to "push through it"!

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you're still sick and/or looking for remedies, but thought I'd suggest some that always work well for me:

--Vitamin C. I take these powdered supplements called "Emergen-C", which are basically megadoses of ascorbic acid. My father-in-law put me onto them, and they seem to cut down on the length/severity of colds and flu when I take them.

--Advil Cold & Sinus, IF you can get the good, older recipe with pseudoephedrine (not carried by a lot of stores now; thanks, meth makers, for ruining things for the rest of us).

--Sleep. I know it sounds simple, and it doesn't work for everyone, but when I'm sick my body just needs to go into "hibernation" mode in order to do repairs. I sleep 12-16 hours a day when I'm really sick. It helps.

CVT said...

I get you on the sock-thing (I have that, too), but I swear this is different . . . .

Now, back to the inauguration.