Forget for a moment the threat of terrorism that we all live with these days. Instead, consider the threat of the nasty bronchitis that's wreaking havoc with just about everyone in this area. My house sounds like a tuberculosis ward every time I walk through it and we've managed to take turns getting knocked flat by the nasty bug making its rounds.

As bad as staying up all night taking care of sick folks is, walking around all day in a Sudafed stupor is worse. But it's the only way I can get through the day. My biggest fear is that drug agents will come kicking my door down believing I have a meth lab cooking in my basement due to all the cold tablets we've been buying.

Believe me, they aren't being purchased for that purpose.

The worst part is dealing with children fighting this nasty stuff. As a parent, I always wish I could take the cold away from my child so they don't have to suffer the misery. Of course, that's impossible. Instead, they just share it with me so we're both miserable.

It's difficult to say what's worse, the virus or the cough medicine prescribed to fight it. If the intent of pharmaceutical companies is to make this stuff so disgusting tasting to keep people from chugging it, they have achieved their goal. The biggest challenge for most of us is just keeping it down after taking the required dose.

I make a game out of getting my kids to take their medicine. They put it off, hoping it will go away, but there the little cup full of vile liquid awaits them. We all know exactly what that feeling's all about because we were exactly the same way. I keep saying, "Hurry, just pour it down your throat real fast and take a drink." Then my boys usually have a countdown and a scramble to reach for the glass of water before their faces and throats melt due to the petroleum product they are required to drink.

The good news is that they don't see the gyrations I go through every time I have to take similar medication.

Not much has changed since I was a kid and had to choke down that same nasty green medicine that I'm not sure even worked. My theory on that medicine was that it was so nasty, you had great incentive to make yourself believe you were getting better. As far as I know it was nothing more than Pennzoil and a shot of alcohol. Whatever it was, the flavors haven't improved much over the decades.

In a few weeks this will all be behind us, I hope. In the meantime, that hacking and coughing you hear might be my family. Then again, it's a pretty good bet that your own family is doing plenty of this on its own.

My heart goes out to you.

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