Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

'Roid Rage

by Robison Wells

Alert: Men are big whiny babies.

The neat thing about this news is that I don't think there are many men who will disagree. When I get sick, there's nothing I like more than to tell the entire world how terrible I feel, and have neighbors bring me casseroles and hold candlelight vigils. Because, like, I'm really sick. My personal favorite illness activity: I take my temperature about every four minutes, just to see if anything's changed. I like having a fever because it's indisputable proof that I'm not just making it all up.

Last week I was on vacation, enjoying the heck out of Disneyland. And yet, even though it was eighty degrees and sunny--not to mention the happiest place on earth--I had a nagging, persistent cough. I'd stand in line for Storybookland, and by the time we'd get up to the front the rest of the crowd would have squirted Purel into their mouths for fear of inhaled infection. With my wheezing, painful cough I sounded not unlike the eighth and ninth dwarfs: Wheezy and Painful.

And it wasn't like this was the beginning of the cough. This thing had been going on for a good month. The kids had gotten it, and recovered. My wife had gotten it, and recovered. But I got it, and it stayed and stayed. This cough was The Cat in the Hat, and I had no Clean-It-Up-Quick machine! (Sorry, I couldn't think of a Disney-movie unwelcome guest.) (Pocahontas?)

So, everyday in California my wife would tell me that I needed to go to the doctor when I got home, and I'd tell her that yes, I did, but that the best therapy I could get in California was a frosty chocolate milkshake. If my antibodies couldn't damage this cough then I'd freeze it out! Or chocolate it out!

Eventually the vacation ended and the vacation budget was spent. No longer could I afford medicinal ice cream, and my insurance certainly didn't seem to be in a hurry to cover it. So I went to the doctor.

And the verdict? Asthma.

My dad has had asthma his whole life, and my sister developed it as an adult (or as adult as she's ever been--OH SNAP!). But more than that, all of my grandma's brothers and sisters had severe asthma, to the point where two of them died because of it. Kinda makes you want to bring me a casserole.

So, the bad part is not the cough which, you know, is just a cough. Yeah, it's annoying and painful, but I've had coughs before. No, the bad part is that I'm now on a steroid treatment. It's long been rumored that I'm the hunkiest LDS writer around (possible exception: Jack "The Body" Weyland), but now my sinewy muscles ripple with dreamy good-lookingness. In fact, the cover of Stephanie Black's latest potboiler romance will feature a painting of me, in a pirate costume. The only problem with the steroids is that I'll now have an asterisk next to my Bestseller ranking:

"The Counterfeit, #3 Bestseller at Seagull Book and Tape, July 2006*.
*Possibly the result of performance-enhancing drugs."

No, the real problem with steroids is that they suck and I hate them. When I got them from the pharmacy, I was informed the side effects were "you'll get agitated, and they might make you grumpy". (When I related that news to my family, they all asked "But how will we tell the difference?")

Also: the steroids cause a ton of joint pain, particularly in knees and elbows, but also, for some stupid reason, in my sternum. So, I can't breath, and I can't sleep, and it hurts to do everything. The only good news is that I also got some cough medicine with codeine. Codeine, my friends, is an opiate. I'm thinking I ought to just head back to Fantasyland and join the hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Now the thing is, everyone on earth has asthma. It's not that big of a deal, really, what with modern medicine and high-tech SCIENCE. If it weren't for the steroids' side-effects, I'd be pretty much okey-dokey. But even so, I plan to milk this thing for all that it's worth. I'll be passing around a dinner calendar shortly--no Tuna Surprise, please.


At 2/28/2007 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you want to know the weird thing? when I had pain in my sternum (later diagnosed as arthritis of the sternum) the dr. gave me steriods to STOP the pain.
So are steriods the every medicine now?

At 2/28/2007 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob, that's really rotten news. The asthma, not the fact that you spent a whole week with Mickey Mouse and friends standing in line for the tea cups. I have some even badder news: the "roids" the body builders (and Jack Weyland) use are not the same ones they prescribe for asthma. The ones you're taking usually cause some swelling, make you look twenty (or fifty) pounds overweight and hide any definition your previous high precentage of body failed to cover. Sorry about that. Not only will your sternum ache to high heaven, and your fantasy-induced world crumble before the bathroom mirror, you will likely not be able to get into your tights. A big bummer (I mean that in the most literal terms).

Have you or any of your extended family that suffers from asthma tried changes in diet to rein in the effects of their condition or to completely recover? Depnding on the serverity and the type of asthma, there are some homeopathic and nutritional regimens that have shown some excellent success. If you live in Utah Valley, there is an excellent Harvard Medical school-trained naturopath with a practice in Alpine, UT. I think she's had some success with asthma patients. Just a thought.

Hope you're not swelling too much. You may have to reschedule your WWF debut against Nacho Libre.

At 2/28/2007 1:42 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Yeah, I've heard about the weight gain. Fortunately, I'm only supposed to be on the pill-version of steroids for two weeks, and the inhaler steroids should only last a couple weeks after that. So, at least it's not long-term. (Also, would a steroid regimen really make me gain any more weight than my milkshake regimen?)

As for the naturopath, I imagine that it might possibly help, but I'd need to see some real academic studies on the subject before I wasted my time going down there. No offense to anyone, but I'm of the opinion that most homeopathic and alternative medicines are generally quackery. (And this isn't just me blowing smoke: in pursuit of a migraine cure I tried: regular doctors, neurologists, chiropractors, massage therapy, cranial-sacral therapy, aroma-therapy, reflexology, and a bevy of herbal remedies. Experience after experience seems to indicate that it's baloney.) Again, no offense, but I've never seen it work for me.

Incidentally, I did see and allergist several years ago and had the big scratch test. There was nothing there that indicated any food allergies.

At 2/28/2007 4:46 PM, Anonymous Fellfrosch said...

As Rob's brother, I have to admit that "But how will we tell the difference?" was my immediate comment upon hearing the steroid side effects. So, you know there was at least one part of that post that wasn't entirely made up.

At 2/28/2007 5:20 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Rob, I'm sorry to hear about the asthma and the yucky steroids.

Don't forget the sitting tomorrow for the book cover painting. Bring your own parrot.

At 2/28/2007 5:26 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...


My husband developed asthma as an adult as well. I didn't even know adults had asthma--I always thought it was something you outgrew.

At 2/28/2007 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO! Rob! Don't die on us! You're the best entertainment around! :P I'll bring you a casserole but I can only do Tuna Surprise. sorry.

At 3/01/2007 10:38 AM, Anonymous Josi said...

I took steroids in 6th grade for a blood disorder. It did the trick, I am now among the acceptable platelet population, but I did swell up. It's not fat, it's swelling and that's what it looks like "Did you get your wisdom teeth out?" was one I heard a lot because a lot of the swelling people notice is in your face and hands. Remember Tina Yothers from Family Ties? If I'd only know how much money was in look-a-likes back then I coulda made a fortune. I did deal with some depression that got me out of Mr. Peterson's class about once a week for six months and I had a chocolate craving that was unparalleled although I haven't yet determined if that was just the whiny baby in me demanding my props because Mom felt sorry for my 40 pound inflation problem.
The good news--I dropped the swelling in about a month and my neighbor gave me a really cool ruby necklace thing. Pity can be a good thing.
Glad you're not gunna be on it for long. Best.


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