The doctor listened to my lungs and heart. I don't know what he was doing, because my distress was in my throat.
Small explosions were being set off by unidentified terrorists. Each blast resulted in spasms of coughing intended to quell the enemy. As it turns out, I'm terrible at fighting wars.
Younger son thought he might be the terrorists' personal messenger, since his recent visit coincided with the opening salvo of my wife's battle of the cough. A couple of days later, when I started hacking, he was sure of it. But the plain fact is we both probably had been exposed to The Crud days before our son arrived.
"Are you susceptible to weather changes?" asked the doctor. It was all I could do to make my brain, fuzzed by whatever combination of over-the-counter remedies was on hand, decipher "susceptible." It seemed like a mighty big word at the moment.
The doctor wanted to know if I had allergies. Of course I do. I live in Southeast Missouri. I take a daily pill that pretty much protects me from most allergies. If what I had was allergy related, I was in deep doodoo.
"What do you want me to do?" asked the doctor. He said he could approach my situation from several directions. None of them, he said, would "cure" me. There is -- still -- no cure for the common cold aggravated by allergic menaces.
Give me the Make It Go Away Pill, I said. For some reason, my doctor doesn't see the humor in the healing arts. He said he could ease my suffering, which might make life bearable long enough for my body to heal itself. Which is what my mother knew, and my grandmother knew and my great-grandmother knew. But they didn't have prescription pads.
So I settled for codeine and steroids. I would have taken carbolic acid if it had been guaranteed to take away the itching in my throat.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch-style house we call home, Missy Kitty was keeping the neighborhood cats at bay and chasing leaves falling from the ash tree. She is as much an outdoor cat as she is an indoor cat. She likes to come in for snacks of milk and cat crunchies or an occasional bit of real chicken or fish. Then she's ready to go back out.
At first I thought it was the chill in the air that made Missy Kitty linger in the family room. Then it hit me. We are sick. Miss Kitty is rising to her duties as comforter.
Animals are like that. They know when their special humans are off their game. Cats and dogs respond to these conditions in many interesting ways.
The current Missy Kitty hasn't seemed to care much for laps. She generates heat like an Iranian nuclear facility, so she prefers the coolness of the floor or her wicker chair when she's inside.
When my coughing subsided enough for me to doze off in my La-Z-Boy, I thought I might catch up a bit on the lost hours of sleep the night before spent trying to hack up nonexistent bombs in my throat. As I slipped into a dream, I felt an unfamiliar pressure on my legs. I opened my eyes enough to see Missy Kitty in my lap, looking at me earnestly as if to see if I had any special requests. Then she curled up and went to sleep. So did I.
So, for several days now Missy Kitty has made it her mission to keep my lap warm. In the world of feline medicine, it is well-known that a warm lap can cure just about anything.
Missy Kitty also is being extra-nice to my wife, whose main allergy is -- of course -- cat dander. Although she doesn't spend time in her lap, Missy Kitty offers to share her healing warmth. The offer counts just as much.
It really does.
Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.