It’s Ranting Time Again
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I know I usually blog on writing and books, but I’m a writer, and if I get sick, I can’t write, so a bad cold ought to be a writing topic, right?  And since my husband and I are both feeling wretched, a little rant is perfectly justified in my Sudafed-addled mind.

Why can’t I get decent cold drugs anymore?

Once upon a time, I could go to the drugstore and pick up 12-hour Contacs and not even notice I had a cold. No longer, at least not in Missouri, the meth head capital of the world. Medicine has taken giant leaps backwards when it comes to the common cold. And they disguise the fact behind all the multiple similar labels and incomprehensible ingredients, few of which do what needs to be done. I assume we have meth heads to thank for the loss of the most powerful drugs, but not for the intentional mislabeling.

Did you know that Vicks Nighttime Cold and Flu has no decongestant? Go look at the label. The ones on our store shelves have painkillers and cough suppressants. Fat lot of good that does when you’re sneezing and honking all night. The decongestant Vicks has to be purchased from the pharmacist, and our drugstore doesn’t carry it. What is the point of a cold medicine if it doesn’t stop runny noses, I ask you?

So now we have to buy one pill for a decongestant (Sudafed and it’s copies), one pill for pain, one fake Benadryl if you want to sleep because Sudafed will bounce you off the wall, and a suppressant if you have a cough. And maybe some of that mucus stuff the doctors recommend, just in case. At approximately $16 a box and with most of the pills only lasting four hours, who can afford a cold? I can’t even sleep long enough to justify four or five boxes of pills!

So as long as I’m sitting here with my head too stuffed to think, I need good reading material. I’ve galloped through Terry Pratchett’s Dodger, a historical fantasy set in the sewers of Victorian London with Charles Dickens as a major character. I’ve lapped up Darynda Jones’s Third Grave Dead Ahead— her humor is outrageous and who can resist a sarcastic grim reaper, especially one fatally attracted to the son of Satan, who just happens to be in prison? What else do you suggest I read? Downloading e-books is so danged easy, like dangling chocolates before a chocoholic—probably not the same as chicken soup, but pretty darn close for comfort and satisfaction!

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It’s Ranting Time Again — 10 Comments

  1. Get well soon! For the first time in my life I have a cough for five weeks now…. Everyone I talk to though says that the colds were harder on people than usual this year though. So maybe the virus has mutated?

    Anyway – have you read Rivers of London? That sounds like something you might enjoy. It came to my mind reading about you reading the Pratchett. It’s on my own TBR, so I can’t yet second all the great reviews.

  2. Apparently the reasoning is that if you make it impossible for ordinary people with colds and allergies to easily obtain pseudoephedrine (the primary ingredient in Sudafed and I assume the decongestant in Contact and other combined drugs), you will keep people who manufacture meth from getting their hands on it, too. From reading the many scare stories about he meth epidemic, I gather that’s working really well (insert sarcasm mark here).

  3. Yeah!! I looked through the pharmacy in the cabinet and found that the new, within expiration date, Nyquil doesn’t have Pseudoephedrine like my old, out-of date batch does.

    I took the old one.

  4. In Oregon, you need a prescription for Pseudoephedrine. When that law went into effect, I assumed that the substitute worked just as well. Ha! I finally went to the trouble of getting a prescription, and Oh! the difference!

    If it’s any comfort: Years ago, I read in Consumer Reports that you get better results taking remedies individually. There are OTC “cold” drugs have less-than-therapeutic level dosages of some of the ingredients. CR recommended taking the specific things you needed to get better results.

  5. What drives me crazy is that–since I cannot take dextromethorphan, the primary ingredient in cough suppressants–it’s either cough all night long, to the detriment of my lungs, my sleep, and my husband’s peace of mind, or go on bended knee to my doctor and beg for cough syrup with codeine. If I get one cold-that-nears-the-bronchitis-stage a year, that means roughly one bottle of codeine cough syrup, which is hardly indicative of addiction, but prising the stuff out of Dr. Lynch makes me feel like I’m down on a street corner looking to score something illicit.

    At least in California, you can get the high-test decongestants, but you have to go to the pharmacy counter and show them ID to prove you’re not up to anything sinister (meth-heads don’t have ID?). I could see a “only buy one package at a time” law, to make it harder for the Drug Lords to stockpile pseudoephedrine, but this mother-may-I approach makes me a little crazy.

    Feel better!

  6. There’s something that comes packaged as Mucinex (guafinesin?) that can help prevent a cold from going into bronchitis. Knock wood, it seems to be helping my husband who always hacks and coughs for weeks after a cold.
    Here in MO, we’re supposed to be able to get pseudoeph if we go to the pharmacist, but in reality, some communities have banned it and pharmacists have simply given up. And I’m wondering if there’s a medical lobby conspiring to force us to go to a doctor for prescriptions.

    Rivers of London by Aaronovitch? I tried his first book and thought it was cute but lacked the characterization I like. But I’ll take a look at this one. The concept’s good.
    Thank you!

    • I’ve found Mucinex to be wonderful for clearing up chest congestion and warding off bronchitis. I don’t take it for run-of-the-mill sinus congestion, though. That’s what I use Sudafed for. If the Texas Legislature tries to restrict it further this year, I’m going to go testify against it on behalf of those of us with significant pollen allergies, especially when the cedars are blooming (which they are right now).

  7. Don’t get sick in the first place. The second I have an inkling that I might be getting a cold, I hit it with 2500 mg of vitamin C and about 10x the daily RDA of zinc and do that 2x a day. I usually end up with 24 hours of runny nose, which I can dry up with Benedryl and I’m over it. I so hate getting sick that I will do pretty much anything to avoid it! 2 colds in 10 years and that is it. Makes up for the down time I incur anyway when I come off my horse and break something!
    There’s always internet drug stores. You can stock up on the stuff you can’t get locally when all else fails……
    Hope tomorrow finds you feeling better!

  8. Alison, this is the first cold I’ve had in decades. If I get so much as a sniffle, I take a decongestant until the feeling goes away. That tells you the power of this cold.

    I’m feeling better, even if the sniffles aren’t quite gone. I’ve been forced out of the house to take tax classes, so I can’t sit around and sniff and read tomorrow, dang it.

    Still not much in the way of writing getting done, unfortunately.

  9. It’s the same problem everywhere. All of us have to suffer because a few people can’t be bothered to read instructions or use medications to make drugs. I don’t like pseudoephedrine and try not to use it, but if you’ve got the flu or a serious cold, it’s the only thing that actually works. Pills against throat aches are pretty much useless these days, because the stuff that did work was banned years ago. I have found a decent cough suppressant after a lot of searching, but the cough syrup I used before has been banned, because someone gave it to their baby, which died, even though there were big warning labels – “Do not give to children under 2” – all over the package. And even that stuff didn’t work nearly as well as the codeine syrup of old. And they won’t give you codeine painkillers, even if you’re in serious pain. In 2010 I had an inflamed ischiatic nerve and the resulting pain made moving, sleeping, sitting, etc… pretty much impossible. I still had some leftover codeine plus paracetamol tablets, which were the only thing that helped. However, the doctor kept trying to push diclofenac on me, never mind that I don’t like diclofenac and that it’s been associated with a heightened risk of strokes. Still, it was either diclofenac or suffer. No codeine, because you might be a drug dealer or something.