Monday, December 1, 2014

Productive? Bah humbug!

Gentle readers, let me warn you about something. In a way it falls under the category of "truth in advertising." In a way it's more about semantics and euphemisms and saying what you mean. In yet another way, it .. well ... it just SUCKS. 

Sorry. No pretty pretense or delicacy about it, folks. We've got a big ol' suckfest going on here.

My teenage daughter got sick the day before Thanksgiving. As is my way, I like to share things with my teenage daughter. So, I got sick the day after Thanksgiving. And, when I say "sick," I mean sick, sick, sick. S-I-C-K. (Not "sick" in a modern, good way, like "sick nasty." Simply sick.)

In the past 72 hours, we've had, in no particular order, fevers, headaches, stuffed noses, running noses, red and raw noses, hacking coughs and horrid sore throats. These delightful symptoms necessitated a speedier than planned removal from New York City, vast amounts of herbal tea, and a trip to the local CVS for an assortment of over-the-counter cold and flu medications. (My husband, so far, hasn't caught the bug and has been instrumental in all of the above.)

One box promises to clear our heads and (I quote) make our coughs "more productive."


The word "productive" is not one that we take lightly in this house. I'm the mother of a teen and I run a business. My husband commutes up to three hours a day to work at a company thirty miles away (trust me, this math makes sense to anyone who lives in the greater Boston area). My daughter juggles homework, horses, family, friends and two part-time jobs. We know from "productive." It is something to which we strive. Bottom line, "productive" is a good thing. 


At least not when it's a cough. A "productive cough" is one with phlegm. Lots and lots of phlegm. (Gross word, I know. Would you prefer mucus? Or sputum? So glad I'm not a doctor!) In theory, a productive cough is less painful. In theory, a productive cough aids in shedding irritants, whatever it is that you caught in the first place that's making you sick in the second place. In reality?

It's disgusting. And, for the record, it still hurts.

Why, oh why, didn't I invest in Kleenex?

So now my cough is "productive." It's thoroughly unpleasant and the word itself takes me back to another unpleasant experience. I'm reminded of a little drug I took seventeen-plus years ago at the Salem Hospital Birth Place. You see, my water broke at about midnight and we checked in at about 2:00 am. They told me to try to sleep (Hello? I don't think so. Labor, people!!!). They would check on me in the morning. Apparently I hadn't progressed enough overnight, so they started a Pitocin drip "to make the labor more productive."

Guess what "more productive labor" means? Pain, pain and then more pain, that's what. 

To add insult to injury, after several hours of pain er, I mean, "productivity," an obstetrics nurse brought in a birthing ball. The giant rubber sphere was purported to make my labor ... you guessed it ... "more productive." Let me tell you, there's only so much "productivity" one pregnant woman can take. Not only did I refuse to try it again after the first agonizing time, but I made the nurse take the torture device out of my room entirely. (To this day, I can't take a Cardio Sculpt class if it uses a stability ball.)

So, does this blog post have a point? (It may not; I'm on a lot of medication.) "Productivity" isn't always an entirely good thing. Sure, it may get you where you want to go (cold-free or new baby), but it can be pretty un-pretty along the way.

Then again, I lived through Pitocin, the birthing ball, fourteen hours of labor and about ten tons of ice chips. I can live through this cold too. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Or produces a lot of phlegm. I can't remember which.

Please pass the Kleenex.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of Lovin' the Alien at  

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