I cough at all the wrong times. Thank God I’m not Hillary Clinton | David Ferguson

Those of us with allergies know only too well what that tickle at the back of the throat feels like. Luckily, no one assumes were secretly dying

If you are a character in a Victorian novel which, much to my occasional dismay, I am not you know youre going to die if, at an otherwise slow plot point, you begin to cough. Within two chapters, your cough will be spraying drops of dark red blood on to your linen kerchief and before long, youll be carried off by consumption.

These days we dont live with the constant threat of tuberculosis and yet, from the way a certain segment of the rightwing fever swamp is treating Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, youd think she was Fantine from Victor Hugos Les Misrables.

Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, some ghoul named Steve Malzberg who probably cant help it that hes a dead ringer for 90s make-believe car salesman Joe Isuzu and even Republican nominee Donald Trump have seized upon Clintons seasonal allergies and resulting cough as a sign that she is trembling at deaths door, barely able to function.

People dont cough like that, Malzberg insisted on his Newsmax.com podcast last week. People dont have coughing fits all the time, in public, that go on and on and on and on and on and on. Not unless theres something going on thats not right.

Please allow me to disabuse you of that notion, sir. Plenty of people cough like that, myself included. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 19.1 million adults over 18 were diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis also known as hay fever in 2014, along 6.1 million children.

Ive got big sinuses. Its part of what makes my singing voice able to cut through layers of drums and guitars a network of large, resonant holes in my skull. My late mother sang opera and had a glorious lyric soprano voice that could fill a whole theater and shake the chandeliers.

Twice a year, for two to four weeks in the spring and fall, those holes in my head fill up with gunk and it makes my face and forehead feel like a huge, throbbing, aching, seriously clogged bottle of rubber cement.

If I dont get enough sleep, drink quarts of water, eat right and keep my stress levels down, that respiratory distress will move straight down into my chest and I will develop a booming, persistent cough.

For some reason, the fall of 2009 was particularly nasty. Id quit smoking the year before and thought that would make my seasonal battles with pollen and mold less miserable, but that first year, it seemed to have the opposite effect.

That was when I was a late-night classical music DJ. My show went out live to the whole state of Georgia four nights per week. I remember it was Thursday, 10 September, because I was queuing up John Adams solemn, exquisite symphonic remembrance of the 9/11 victims, On the Transmigration of Souls.

Our next selection, I began, is John Ad and I was seized with a violent coughing fit. Most radio consoles have whats known as a cough button for just such an emergency. It mutes your microphone until the cough or sneeze or period of hoarseness passes.

But this coughing fit didnt pass it just kept going on and on. I killed my mic and started the music because I wasnt sure what else to do. I was mortally embarrassed and for an awful moment felt sure I was disgracing the memory of all those people who were killed in the terror attacks of September 11 2001.

The control room phone rang. I gulped down two swallows of tepid coffee and answered, still weak-voiced and froggy.

You okay in there? It was my boss calling from home.

Im fine, I sputtered. Just fighting for breath.

He asked if I needed someone to come take over. I said no, Im fine, its already passing. I hung up the phone and it immediately rang again. I picked it up and it was my twin brother calling from his car.

Boy, that sounded terrible, he said, laughing. Youve really got to quit smoking crack rocks at work.

It went out live to the whole state, I said. Our listeners probably think Im dying.

I wasnt, though, any more than Hillary Clinton is. The fact is, even an able-bodied, healthy, athletic person like myself can get a cough that sounds like the end of the world. A week later I was back to running four miles a day and breathing like normal.

Sometimes, oh ye rightwing vultures, a cough is just a cough and the female candidate whose health youve never cared one iota about before now is probably just fine, suffering from as her personal physician disclosed in detail a round of seasonal allergies.

So, if youre expecting Hillary Clinton to keel over dead like Mimi, the consumptive heroine of Puccinis La Boheme, or Hugos Fantine, I wouldnt get my hopes up. I think shes got a couple of arias to sing first.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/11/i-cough-all-wrong-times-thank-god-not-hillary-clinton

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