Sunday, July 17, 2011

Active Ingredients

I only get a really bad cold every few years or so, so when one hit last week, I didn't have any cold medicine in the house, specifically, Drixoral -- which I always found to be a pretty reliable over-the-counter remedy -- or actually behind-the-counter remedy. It's not a prescription, they just (presumably) don't want you to make meth with it.

fellow alum Lee described this July 4 photo as "a patriotic meth lab"
By Day 2 of the recent plague, I conceded home remedy defeats and dragged myself to the corner drugstore to ask the pharmacist for it. He was a young, non-helpful guy, who just said, "never heard of it," and handed me a box of generic sudafed. Too worn out to argue or inquire further, I came home and googled it, only to find it's off the market, and has been for some time. I didn't know, because I'd only averaged a box every five years or so.

Angry former customers had a lot to say about its removal, and I never did get a straight answer on the backstory, other than it might be possible to get some in Canada, and I noticed a few conspiracy theorists had some opinions about phantom lawsuits that they said were probably settled out of court under gag orders.

Geez, what do they put in that stuff? Seriously. I needed to know, in the hopes of re-creating it. The active ingredients are dexbrompheniramine and brompheniramine, so the BFF was dispatched to the Disco Kroger in search of anything that contained those. She painstakingly read all the labels and came home with Children's Dimetapp, and an assortment of capsules filled with Dextromethorphan, Guaifenesin, and Phenylephrine. Or as the husband-in-law put it, "you've gone Breaking Bad."

Because I didn't want to accidentally Heath-Ledger-it, I took out a little notebook and wrote down what I took and when I took it, observing the Dimetapp label that cautioned, "do not use to sedate a child or make a child sleepy." (That struck me as an advisory that might come in handy for the Moms I know.) Since it's designed for kids and didn't have a weight chart, I never did figure out the grown-up dose, which I suspect is a bottle a day. (I still have half a bottle left, so presumably I was taking less than Anna Nicole, which was what I was concerned about, since apparently I have a new phobia about celebrity overdoses, despite not being a celebrity, or a user of recreational drugs.)

The next few days, I survived via regular deliveries of soup, juice, and cases of Posh Puffs (with lotion -- which I now know are completely worth the wild extravagance). It took a village, and then some. Nothing worked. By Day 5, I had even unearthed my Mom's stash of Vick's VapoRub and fashioned a "poultice" with hot towels straight out of the dryer. It was just like that episode of Beverly Hillbillies where Granny insisted that she'd found a cure for the cold, and everyone who took it discovered that "in a week or ten days, the cold was gone."

All I know is, I had to sit out the July 4th funnelcakes and parades and festivals, making me feel exactly like I did when I was seven and came down with strep and had to miss the Christmas pageant. And I didn't even get the Lauren Bacall sexyvoice that usually accompanies the end of a cold. I just barked like a seal for a week, while eyeing (but never actually raiding) Cooper's kennel cough prescription.

Somewhere along the way, in my Dimetapp fog, I did think "Active Ingredients" would be a great name for a band. But it turns out, that is a band. (And I feel bad for any of their fans who actually landed here.)

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