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19:06:07 - 2000-04-03

DEATH COMES KNOCKING ON UNCLE BOB'S DOOR

Alright. I'll be the first to admit that I can be a rather big baby when it comes to feeling a little under the weather. But for the last four days I have been suffering from a head cold from Hell that has been so severe that I am convinced I would rather go through the whole childbirth thing without pain killers than spend another moment with this congested monkey on my back.

Anyone who has ever slept with me (my wife, dog and this chunky gal in college that I met in a bar named Norma ... the girl not the bar), knows my lust for sleeping with the window open on a warm winter's eve. And I know that I take a severe risk of catching the deadliest of colds when I do this. But to me it's like Russian Roulette with my sinuses except there's less blood than a normal game of Russian Roulette.

This past Sunday night, this little charade caught up with me. I woke up about 2:30 a.m. and felt like I had swallowed a gerbil covered in sandpaper. I got up, closed the window, fell to my knees and prayed that I would not get sick, because I don't just get "sick" like normal people. I get "deathly sick" thankyouverymuch.

Monday morning I awoke to that awful ringing in the ears, which at first I thought was my wife describing her previous day, but then I realized she was still asleep.

The ringing combined with the swollen sinuses, the throbbing headache and a God-awful taste in my mouth made me feel like I had spent the evening partying with Dennis Rodman.

Instantly, as if by reflex, I screamed in pain, waking my wife, neighbors, and from what I understand, even giving Willard Scott a jolt while he wished a Happy Birthday to a "beautiful" 112-year-old prune from New Mexico.

My wife pried her fingernails out of the ceiling and asked what was wrong.

"I tink I godda heb cole," I whined in my patented head cold voice.

"Well you shouldn't sleep with the windows open, you fool," she hissed.

Sonofabitch! No sympathy for the damned! Apparently, I would have to scrounge for the "awww ... poor babys'" elsewhere.

I got to work, which was an amazing feat all in itself due to the sheer giddiness I was feeling from the extra dose of Dayquil I had taken with my morning coffee. At one point, I could swear a fire hydrant on the side of the road told me to slow down and that a bus was careening out of control towards me. Luckily, there wasn't but I swerved like a big dog anyway.

I made it to my desk and collapsed in a crusty heap, feeling a cold sweat trying to fight its way through the skin on my forehead. Our lovely associate publisher Lynn walked into the office a few minutes later.

"Huh-wo Lim," I said with pain oozing from my voice. I didn't want to offer the information that I should have been home on my deathbed. What I did want was Lynn to ask what was wrong, and then to have her feel awful that I was so incredibly sick. "How wub yo weekend," I asked with a pained look through my puppy dog eyes.

Lynn pointed at her throat and whispered, "Can't talk . Got laryngitis."

Goddammit!! Beaten at my own game! What are the odds of gettign sick and having someone at the office outsick you? This was not shaping up to be one of my better head colds. I had to wonder if Lynn was really sick or if she was an even bigger baby than me.

"Oh yeah," I queried. "How dib dat haffen?"

It was obvious to me that Lynn had reaped great praise in the sympathy arena herself in the past. She acted as if she had just swallowed a matchbox full of razorblades and whispered, "Went to ... beach. Lost my ... voice."

Oh ... she was good alright. A regular pro. I almost felt sorry for her had I not been so deathly ill myself.

"Thab's too bad, Lim. I gob a real suhbeer heb cole mysepp," I said, my nose getting stuffier with each word.

"I'm sorry," she strained with what seemed to be a genuine concern, which was as good as actually conceding in the war of the sickest employee as far as I'm concerned. Satisfied, I sat back in my chair and watched the walls dance and swirl to an imaginary tune.

After work, I stopped at my corner drug store to stock up on everything that gave me a half-hearted promise to clear my sinus passages. I spent $41.75 on everything from decongestants to Uncle Bob's Black Magic Nasal Potion and Phlegm Reducer.

I made my way home and began arranging my medicines in alphabetical order. I began with the Alka Seltzer Sinus Medicine. "May cause drowsiness," the side of the box warned me.

Fourteen and a half hours later I came up with a better warning: "May cause comatose-like state accompanied by hallucinations of your kindergarten teacher throwing lawn darts at you."

Never has any medicine laid my big booty to rest like this modern day miracle. I haven't been that drowsy since the night we went to Atlanta to see Gary "Radar O'Reilly" Burghoff as Daddy Warbucks in a way off Broadway version of "Annie."

Only problem was, I still couldn't breathe without my mouth remaining wide open and making this horrible wheezing sound like Captain Kangaroo pinned under a Ford Explorer with a punctured lung.

So, here I am, my Afrin 12-hour menthol nasal spray by my side, wheezing and whining my way through another day. So far I have only infected one other employee ... Matt, our production manager. It's obvious he doesn't feel good, he's sniffling and really doesn't seem to be himself.

And man ... is he being a big baby about it.

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