Unnoticed health pattern

I went to the doctor for a physical yesterday—no particular reason, just decided it was time for a checkup. Everything turned out to be fine; she said I should get more exercise, but I already knew that. Hoping to start riding my bike to work again soon.

But she said something else that did surprise me:

Every year for the past three or four years, I've gone to the doctor in February or March because of a lingering cough.

My perception and memory has been that once every three or four years, I get a winter cold that lasts an extremely long time, but that most years I don't.

And I have no memory of having gone to the doctor about a cough since three or four years ago.

But apparently I do it every year around the same time.

So the doctor suggested, even more strongly than the physician's assistant had a couple weeks ago, that this might be allergies.

It still seems weird to me. I've never shown any other signs of allergies that I know of, and I'm strangely resistant to the idea that I might be allergic to something; maybe it just doesn't fit my self-image or something.

I was so surprised by all this that it didn't occur to me to ask how to find out what I'm allergic to. The cough seems to have pretty much gone away, as of late last week (it had only been once or twice a day for a couple weeks before that), so maybe there's no easy way to determine that at this point, I dunno. Anyway, the doctor said that if it starts up again, I should try Claritin. So I guess I'll try that.

I searched my blog archives to see if I'd mentioned going to the doctor for a cough in recent years; I haven't mentioned it. And I still have no memory of it. Odd.

5 Responses to “Unnoticed health pattern”

  1. Anonymous

    Any chance that your body’s memory is reacting to the stresses of March 2005? Peter’s death and two memorial services (at Altera on the 12th and Pierce College on the 18th)? Or perhaps birth trauma on the 28th in 1968…followed five months to the day by “The Whole World’s Watching” in Chicago?

    You are respected, admired, and (most importantly) loved, Jed.

    [Let me know if the prior paragraph saves you the cost of Claritin, ok? 😉 ]


  2. Paul (Hartman)

    I didn’t mean for the above to be anonymous. If I actually hated technology I’d be a Ludite, but my fumbling just makes me look like one.

  3. Jackie M.

    I have something similar going on in the fall, where I’ll be sitting around and for no reason I’ll suddenly gasp for air. It’s a single intake of air, but it feels as if I can’t get enough, and I may do it several times per day. Exercise has no impact, and I passed my asthma test with flying colors.

    I did have Valley Fever a few years ago, and this intermittent problem only started afterward. But I’m also beginning to suspect allergies, so I’m waiting to see if it happens again next autumn.

    It’s all weird, huh? I know what you mean about the self-image. And I tend to think of allergies as involving red eyes and runny noses and very obvious misery. At the very least.

  4. Amy Sisson

    This makes good sense, especially since you live in a fairly warm climate, meaning that pollen comes out early in the year. It’s been very bad in Houston this Feb/March; our black Prius has a nice coating of yellow on it at the moment….

  5. Lane

    I have dear friends who struggle this time of year with Seasonal Affective Disorder. My first thought was like Paul’s, except that yours might be a combination of craving sunlight and feeling echoes of your father’s death. If this were true, it is not too surprising that you’ve been forgetting these visits. But then I thought, hmmm, I’ve never known psychosomatic stuff to manifest as coughing. I moved on to “mold allergy” or possibly a pollen allergy. Early spring things are blooming here; where you are I’m sure there’s a lot more going on. The allergy hypothesis is the easier one to test… next year, if the cough bothers you, give Claritin a whirl. If it doesn’t help, try getting more sunlight, especially on your skin, and maybe dig deeper into unresolved feelings about your dad. But doing the second would probably help, too, even if you do have an allergy that’s causing the cough. Add exercise on top, and I bet you’ll feel tons better. So sez Dr. Lane.


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