This is your brain on drugs

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

What do you want to read about this week? My theory about colds and flus? How about my hypothesis about the 60-year societal pendulum arc? You want to hear about the impending end to newspaper journalism? How about my unified theory of the futility of human activity? Am I looking really hard for something besides the onset of the holiday shopping season to write about? Blecch, all these things and more bounce through my brain like rubber pinballs.

It’s Sunday, and I’ve suffered with a cold since Wednesday. Yeah, my first four-day weekend in six months, and I’ve been snorting and blowing snot like a toddler. I think it’s probably a result of my incorrigible youth, but I can’t take cold medicine, not comfortably anyway. If I take more than two or three hits of Afrin, the mucous membranes in my nose swell up like murderous sponges, intent on either strangling me or taking my life through the anxiety caused by taphephobia or its brother claustrophobia. And it’s not bad enough that they’re swollen, they feel like they’ve been abraded with a wire brush.

If I take anything—like the half dose of TheraFlu I took an hour and a half ago—that contains the decongestant pseudoephedrine, I feel, think and act as though I’m having some sort of mental or emotional breakdown. It’s most peculiar, really, like a Salvador Dali-directed movie showing on the movie screen of my brain. My blood pressure feels elevated and my hands feel shaky from the inside out, but hey, at least I can breathe.

Anyway, my theory—not to continue this recitation of over-the-counter drug symptoms—is that cold viruses don’t survive as well at temperatures higher than 98.6, which explains why people are more likely to catch colds when it’s cold out—and why I’ve been sleeping half-dressed with a stocking cap and socks. Or maybe that’s just the drugs talking.