...and when they do, I sound like I belong in a TB ward.
I'm used to my coughing. My husband is used to my coughing. My son is used to my coughing. My whole extended family and my husband's family, they're all used to my coughing. Outside of those folks, though, people give me The Look. You know, that look. The one that very clearly says, as they inch away from me while trying to not look like they're inching away from me, "Wow, she's got flu or something. I better get the hell away from her!"
I had this happen to me today, at the library of all places. I was on one of the computers, looking up a book I wanted to read, and there was a woman not much older than I am at the next computer. I was coughing, because, you know, I'm just getting over a cold, and I do that. It was pretty loud, and the woman at the computer next to me sighed noisily and muttered, "That's it. I'm outta here." And she flounced off.
Now, I don't know for sure she left because of me. I didn't even really notice her until she did that, beyond the vague awareness that there was a human next to me. But this sort of thing has happened to me, pretty much on a weekly basis, since I was very young. My aunt told my little cousin he had to hold his nose and cover his mouth around me because I might "give him something". I eventually forgave him, since he was only seven or so. I have never forgiven my aunt, who was an adult and should have known better, especially since my mother had explained to her what my deal was. I was bullied from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade on this issue, in addition to other things. And no matter how many times I experience it, it still hurts.
Not much better are the comments: "You sound terrible! You should see a doctor about that!" No, really? I like to cough like this and constantly draw attention to myself, thanks.