Thursday, April 2, 2009

Soft enough to be facial tissue

Tears flow freely from a child's anguished eyes. A gentle mother leans in with a caring hand to wipe them away. The child looks up in astonishment: "Toilet paper?" "But it's soft," replies the mother.

I can't even remember what brand of toilet paper that advertisement was for, but I have, for much of my life, used facial tissue (otherwise known as Kleenex) and toilet paper virtually interchangeably when it comes to nasal congestion. Having been sick over the weekend, I whipped through an entire roll of your regular kitten brand toilet paper and half a box of facial tissue (that's right, they do make tissue also...). I managed to fill up half my garbage bin. One has to wonder how much fluid loss is accounted for in such a constant clearing of my sinuses.

Being sick is one of the worst feelings. It doesn't matter if you're only a "little bit" sick - it still feels terrible. As time goes on, it only becomes more terrible, and you become sick of being sick. Sick of the headaches, stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, and dysfunctional brain. You forget what it feels like to not be sick. Studying for histology in that condition was murder.

But it raises an interesting point, which is our limited ability to retain memories of sensation. They say time heals all wounds, but it's not just wounds that are forgotten. When we are well, we quickly forget the anguish and discomfort of being ill. Similarly, when we're unwell, we gradually fail to recall what it feels like to be asymptomatic. This is an adaptive mechanism no doubt. When you're past an unpleasant situation, there's little point in reliving it. Similarly, if you're stuck being chronically ill, it's probably best to reset your baseline expectations of the norm. Nonetheless, it doesn't lessen my exasperation at this danged stuffy nose.


Joyce said...

Yo man, you've gotta use Puffs or Kleenex Extra Soft tissues!

/is really anal about tissues when sick 8D

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ. When I shadowed in the OR, I found out what melena smelled like, which is supposed to be one of the worst smelling thing in medicine. I can still vividly recall the smell to this day.

sandlot said...

Hmm. It seems that you normally get sick when exam time comes around.