There are several different kinds of cough.
There is the cough one makes when entering a room unnoticed when others are present so as to avoid their embarrassment when they realize that they have been talking about you while you stand quietly listening.
There is that delicate cough you make when you doctor is holding your testicles in her hand and is trying to establish a connection between the brain area and the pleasure area, sometimes to no avail. This is not the same cough one find oneself making involuntarily when the prostrate is examined by a doctor responding to your request for a second opinion.
There is the cough one makes at exactly the wrong moment in a performance of a delicate string quartet that gets you into trouble with all around you, most especially your partner. While there are some string quartets where such a cough is probably more musical than the notes being crafted by the skilled players, generally it is not a welcome kind of cough.
There is the cough-like sound one makes to cover embarrassment – for example, when someone is about to provide too much information on a subject and you don’t want the listener to actually hear or to cover an indiscretion. “To look at her, you wouldn’t believe that my wife is actually (cough) years old”, is a helpful illustration of such a cough.
Then there is the hacking cough I had all last week which comes from the tip of your toes, through every sinew, stem cell, tissue and fibre of your body and erupts from the base of your stomach through your chest and out through a sore, desperate throat. The kind of cough that bruises your rib cage, leaves you a shivering wreck and exhausts you. In one hour of this, I counted that I coughed thirty six times – each one leaving me a wreck. I did this for eight hours solid this one day (Tuesday). That is close to three hundred coughing fits or 200 minutes of coughing. No wonder I felt like a fifty five year old dish cloth who had not a single thread of its cotton fibre left for such things as thinking, reading, smiling, talking. My brain numbed to a complete frazzle.
I am starting to get over all of this now, after nine days of flu-cold symptoms that have been most debilitating. A visit to the doctor produced what I already know – rest, plenty of liquids, no alcohol, cough syrup and throat soothers and let it take its course. Its course was meandering, painful and left me thinking how a real illness would be. But I am out the other side, coughing once or twice a day. Hot flushes now and again, snivels and the occasional heave from a tired and bruised chest. Not a nice time.