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On the Subject of Cold Sores …

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I get cold sores. My wife doesn’t. She loves to make fun of me when I get one …

If you’re not susceptible to cold sore, then you’re probably not aware that they are caused by a viral infection. Likewise, you don’t know that this infection has no cure: Once you get it, you’ll carry it around in your bloodstream for the rest of your life. It won’t make you perpetually sick, but you’ll be subject to periodic outbreaks of painful and annoying blisters on a part of your body where the tissues are especially sensitive – your lips. If this sounds a lot like herpes, it’s because the two viruses are virtually identical. This aspect of the disease adds greatly to the mirth that my wife experiences during my episodic bouts with cold sores. Like it’s not funny enough that I have an enormous, open sore in the middle of my face, there’s the added hilarity of comparing my condition to a venereal disease! Ha!

Scientists aren’t exactly certain why cold sore outbreaks occur, but there are several well-known factors that can serve as triggers, such as acidic foods, or prolonged exposure to the sun. One of the most well-documented of these triggers is stress, and most sufferers can personally attest that cold sores are prone to occur when dramatic events are unfolding in their lives; in other words – at the most inopportune times. If there were a way to document such a thing, I’m sure it would be demonstrated that far more cold sore bearing people have been forced to attend their own weddings or important job interviews than can be explained by random chance.

Like I said before: If you suffer from cold sores, then nothing in this essay will come as news to you. However, if you’ve never experienced the pain, discomfort, and overall “oogy” feeling of having a giant blister on your lip (on your LIP for crying out loud!), then you just can’t imagine the length that victims will go to to obtain relief. The thing about any kind of skin blister is that the area is sensitive, and so you want to avoid touching it. And yet, when you have a blister on the sensitive tissue of your lip, there is a constant, unconscious compulsion to probe it with the tip of your tongue.

A couple of years ago, a pharmaceutical company came out with a topical medication that will decrease the duration of a cold sore outbreak, if not prevent it entirely. The caveat for use of this product is that you have to apply it at the first indication that a cold sore is imminent. If you wait until the blister actually begins to appear – usually only an hour or two after the first, telltale tingling sensation – then it will essentially be too late for the salve to have any effect. This means that you must carry the medicine on or near you at all times; or else you must be prepared to drop everything at a moment’s notice – your Annual Performance Review, for example – in order to rush down to the Rite-Aid and purchase some Miracle Cold Sore Cure.

And speaking of buying this stuff: Be sure to take along your credit card, because it costs approximately as much as antimatter. To compensate for the high price of the medication, its manufacturers have attempted to package the substance in “single-use” apportionments. That is – one container of salve presumably contains enough medication to treat one cold sore outbreak. Although the salve comes packaged in a tube by necessity, the amount of material that the tube contains would be more appropriately handled in one of those microchip laboratories where all the products are manipulated in sealed chambers under electron microscopes. Consequently, there’s a very real possibility of vaporizing your entire dosage by applying slightly too much pressure to the pea-sized tube.

Getting back to the subject of my wife: What explains the transformation of this normally compassionate woman into a malicious fourth grader whenever I get a cold sore? I’ve given this some thought, and I believe that this is her version of “whistling past the graveyard”. The idea of having a festering wound on her lip is so abhorrent that she must utterly reject the mere possibility of such a thing. She accomplishes this in her own mind by ridiculing the object of her fear … me. In her defense, I would note that I’ve observed a similar reaction in many other women in response to another common, feminine fear:

Male pattern baldness.

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Written by mainecartoons

December 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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