The Cough

You may not know me. But you’ve probably heard me.

On February 18th, I was diagnosed with laryngopharyngeal reflux disease, a comorbidity of asthma and acid reflux. This was what was causing the terrifying sound that was coming from my mouth. The wildest part of laryngopharyngeal reflux disease is that its common name is “silent reflux”. Silent reflux. Did someone make a mistake? That cough was anything but silent.

Whether I’m walking through the halls hacking up a lung, or wallowing on the floor wheezing, you’ve probably heard what has become known as “The Cough.” Although “The Cough” is no longer with us, it has left a footprint that Collegiate will never forget. The altogether puzzling nature of the cough led to many questions, hypotheses, and much fear from my peers. There is a vast and varying amount of opinions from students and teachers alike about what exactly the sound resembled. This all lead to the same awkward stare, followed by the question, “Are you dying?” Give a listen…

The Top Ten Sounds I’ve Been Compared To:

1. A baby seal, whining for momma.

2. A southbound migrating flock of geese.

3. A dying cow.

4. A dying horse.

5. A dying pretty-much-anything.

6. An snorting elephant.

7. A roaring chainsaw.

8. A camel, in just about any context.

9. “A farting clown” -Sarah Smithson (‘16)

10. A race car, revving its engine.

Over the past 112 days, I have heard hushed snickers from the occasional senior boy, and even opened my eyes to find several teachers above me, in horror, after a seven-minute coughing fit. The Cough’s notoriety has steadily grown, even earning itself a feature on the AP Macroeconomics midterm. After many weeks of coughing, friends and teachers alike began to ignore me. Latin teacher Tyler Boyd called it “white noise.” This also lead to some fear and questions. Dorsey Ducharme (‘19) now refers to me as “Ebola.” I have been thoroughly interrogated about my well-being and the nature of my disease, with both concern and disgust.

The Top Ten Questions I Was Asked About The Cough, Now Answered:

1. “Are you dying?” Yes! I’m dying just as much as each and every one of you are.

2. “What do you have?” A cough.

3. “How long have you been coughing?” As of February 18th, 112 days.

4. “How did it go away so quickly?” Antacids.

5. “Why don’t I have it?” It’s not contagious.

6. “Do you have whooping cough?” However many times I may have been diagnosed with (and treated for) whooping cough, I assure you that I did not have whooping cough.

7. “What is that?”

8. “Why are you not freaking out about this?” It’s fine. I’m used to it.

9. “Why is no one else freaking out about this?” They’re also used to it.

10. “How long has it been since you last coughed?” I don’t exactly keep tabs, but I assure you it has not been too long.

So, to the whole Collegiate community, your concern and support has been greatly appreciated, and luckily I will no longer be heard from all over dying of “The Cough.”

Thank you.

Featured image courtesy of

About the author

Abigail Winfree is a junior, who is that weird horse girl.