Is there anything worse than an in uncontrollable cough? Yes. Yes, there is.
An uncontrollable cough in church.
I tried to prepare for this. I had a pocket full of cough drops, and I drank plenty of water before the service started. I sucked on a preemptive cough drop in an attempt to numb the tickle in my throat. I mouthed the words during the hymns so as not to strain my voice. And I gave myself a stream of calming thoughts of serenity and silence to keep the urge to cough off my mind.
It didn’t work.
A hint of a tickle started towards the end of the sermon. I made a little noise, a cross between a cough and a hiccup in an effort to tamp it down. I quickly popped another cough drop and tried to keep calm. It got worse. Pretty soon I was making small, discrete coughs behind my hand, trying to be as quiet as possible. I cleared my throat. I sucked desperately on the cough drop. The coughs grew more frequent and a little bit louder as the feathers in my throat tormented me. The quieter and more reverent the service became, the worse the cough became. Before long I had abandoned all pretense of polite coughing and was hacking away and measuring in my mind how many steps it would take to get to the nearest exit.
Where was a wailing baby when I needed it? Surely the whole congregation was distracted by the choking noises coming from my pew!
Finally, in relief, the organist started another hymn and I stood up, ready to make a run for it. As soon as escape was in sight, though, the tickling started to subside and I was able to take a deep breath and start to relax. Still frantically sucking on the cough drop, I knew I was past the worst of it and could make it to the end of the service.
Is there anything worse than an uncontrollable cough in church?
Well…the enormous SNEEZE that came out of me next during the closing prayer was worse!!