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*Cough, cough* ... Not again!

May 19, 2010 - Betsy Bethel

I am frustrated. As a parent, it's a feeling I get a lot.

This time, it's because I can't seem to keep my daughter healthy. Notice that the onus is completely on me. If she's sick, it's my fault. Period.

She had tubes put in her ears and her adenoids out in March after several ear infections last winter. She also is prone to sinus infections. The week before her surgery, she got strep throat for the first time. The week after her surgery she came down with a sinus infection. One month ago, she had another sinus infection. I'm told it's a bad allergy season, one of the worst ever. I'm told the Ohio Valley air is to blame. Whatever. It's my fault and I need to fix it!

Saturday, she started to lose her voice. By Monday, the coughing and sore throat moved in. Today, I took her to the doctor. No infection this time ... yet. It's up to me to make sure it doesn't turn into one. I feel the way Wile E. Coyote must have when he looked up and saw the boulder descending fast.

What do I do? The doctor recommended Mucinex DM. DM? Doesn't that stand for dextromethorphan? The doc said she's 4, so it's OK. I don't think so. You hear so many different opinions on what is OK and what you should steer clear of like it's the plague. The doctor recommends one thing, the pharmacist another, WebMD another and the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site another again. Your co-worker says such and such worked for her child, who is now 35 and has a chronic illness. Your mom says she has no idea. Your friend with kids your child's age tells cautionary tales and suggests only natural remedies.

Add to that, having to keep up with the latest recalls and new FDA recommendations that change every other day, and you can see why a 21st century parent whose child has a cough is a mite more frazzled than the 1950s mom who gave the kid a shot of whiskey and was done with it.

Meanwhile, my child is hacking up radioactive goo and before I can tell her for the bazillionth time to spit it into a tissue, she's pulling it into a string from her mouth or holding it out on her tongue for me to admire or trying to feed it to the dog.


I did discover something helpful, though, and I can thank my job for it. As OV Parent magazine editor, I receive lots of new products to test. Last night, I had a feeling Emma was going to have a rough night, so I grabbed the latest freebie from my desk, a bottle of ZarBee's Children's Cough Syrup. When the pitch man called, he said it was a great natural remedy you can give to children 12 months and older. I interrupted him: "You mean honey?" He said, well yes, indeed, it's honey based, and also has vitamin C and zinc added as immune system boosters.

I was actually stoked to try it out. So when the coughing started at 11:30, I dragged Emma downstairs to the kitchen. There we were, weak and bleary-eyed, Emma's arms slumped over me with her butt on the countertop and me pinning her in place and trying to get her to take this great new medicine.

"Come on, it tastes good." I attempted to sound cheery. "It's like honey! Cherry-flavored honey. Your favorite!"

"No, I don't like it. I don't want it!"

I got her a cup of milk to take with it, which sometimes works. It didn't this time.

"Look at the box — see the bees, aren't they cute?", my voice now unnaturally high pitched in manic desperation.

"No, I don't want it!" She knocked the box out of my hand.

Stern voice: "You have to take your medicine, Emma, so you'll stop coughing and we can all go back to bed!"

"No!" Then she whined: "I want to go to bed!"

Resigned voice: "I know. So do I. Take your medicine."

"No! It tastes bad!"

I assured her, again, that it doesn't.

It really doesn't, unlike most cough syrups, which were created by evil anti-family robots who hate children and enjoy creating the most vile formulas as a form of mass torture for families everywhere. But she doesn't believe me because I've lied to her in the past.

The "It will help make you feel better" or "It will keep you healthy" lines don't work anymore either. She is smart; she knows they are lies, all lies.

I finally pulled out the big guns, my final resort, spoken with a heavy sigh: "I guess I'll have to get Daddy to hold you down."

"No!" she grabbed onto me for dear life. 

But it was too late; Daddy was already coming down the steps — big, strong, grumpy Daddy, who had to be up at 4:30. Squinting in the light, he asked what's wrong. I told him. "Come on," he said. He scooped her up and plopped her on his lap. I expected a mutiny. She surprisingly relented. She took a sip of milk and I squirted in the medicine. Done.

Thank you, Daddy — you're on medicine duty from now on!

On our way upstairs, Emma coughed. "Uh oh," she said. "It didn't work." Smart aleck. I silently prayed she was wrong.

Less then five minutes later, we were all sound asleep.

Thank you, ZarBee's — YOU'RE on medicine duty from now on, too.

— — —


P.S. I've had great results with honey, by the way, and Emma doesn't mind the taste, although it can be messy. It's hard to get off the spoon and its gloppiness sometimes gags her. If it's too much of a gamble to get it down the hatch without getting it all over PJs, hair and hands, try diluting it in a little bit of decaf tea or water.

P.P.S ZarBee's is capitalizing on all the craziness with the latest recalls by giving away bottles of their cough syrup. They are having a "Cough Syrup Bottle Swap" giveaway promotion at Upload a picture of yourself with the recalled product to their Facebook page, and they'll send you a coupon for a free full-size bottle of their product, a $10 value.



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