The Sort of Cold


Oh no. The common workers’ dilemma. What the hell is this tickling in my nose? Oh,  it’s now a burning in my throat.

Well damn, it’s not too bad. I have a pretty good immune system. I guess I’ll go to work, wash my hands often, and won’t stand too close to people. There are bills you know.

This mini-episode of sociopathy and desperation is pretty common and indicative of the sort of society we live in. Sure you could talk all day about personal responsibility but life costs money and people get sick and sometimes they can’t afford to be sick. What can be done? I don’t really know but I think it’s worth mentioning.

What I can do, besides just bring it up, is offer ways to proactively deal with the bummer of the ‘sort of cold.’

The first thing you can do is view these mini-maladies as practice. Honestly, I sometimes get suspicious if I don’t get just a little bit sick at least once a year. How else am I going to know that my immune system is getting a workout? I don’t know how wise or scientifically sound this hypothesis is. But, it seems at least to be a better tactic then getting upset about sickness.

It is possible to lose your temper at common cold. I think that I have pretty good grounds for getting upset about it. Aside from the occasional double pint night or go at the cookie jar I’m pretty healthy. I exercise regularly, I eat a more or less balanced diet with an emphasis on protein, I make it a point to get enough sleep, and I have decent hygiene.

WHY AM I SICK? I could get justifiably mad about it but that’s not productive. Obviously assessing the nature of the illness, recovery plans, whether you need a sick day, or a doctors visit are the first steps you should take.

My two cents here is a tad more philosophical. It has to do with outlook.

The second thing you can do aside from viewing colds as practice is letting them inspire you. Sounds odd but it works. Due to a combination of luck and effort, I can generally remain feeling pretty great most of the time.

What happens when you feel strong and enthusiastic for a long time is you can lose touch with mortality and your vulnerability. This state produces complacency. A complacency that’s very helpfully broken by the common cold.

If you’re used to feeling well and are suddenly sick, even a little, it can be jarring. Jarring enough to inspire you to redouble your efforts at being healthy and strive to be vigilant about your vulnerabilities.

A good use for illnesses that you are 100% sure are gonna pass in a couple of days is to realize that they could be much worse, that they could be cancer, or diabetes, or dementia. Musing on ‘an even worse’ case scenario will inspire you to take the preventative measures we are all familiar with more seriously. It can inspire you to do more background reading and to be more sympathetic and understanding of situations and people because you’ve contextualized life as the complex and vulnerable thing that it is.

The third and final strategy that I’ll mention before I make a beeline for my coffee/honey/milk-fix is the trite but true method of letting sickness kindle a greater appreciation. A greater appreciation of what exactly?

Well, obviously of your health when you have it, of the fact that things work as well as they do in a world where something you can’t even see can kick your ass, and of the fact that you have the means to recover. I for one, due to avid reading, and some experience with slightly less than first-world conditions, am ecstatic as hell that I can munch on frigging pineapples, chocolate,  drink milk, and enjoy honey in December while exploring the world with keystrokes in a warm, dry, clean and well lit little office. I am also greatly appreciative that even if I am an odious toad and risk getting my coworkers slightly sick they’ll understand cause that’s how I got the cold in the first place.

Generally though, avoid going to work or even near family when sick. I only risk these things because I can knock out a could within thirty-six hours and think that whatever that slight burn is, is just the devastated phalanx of micro-organisms who chose to mess with the wrong Barbarian horde. This is already a bit silly but sometimes we can’t avoid silly.

Hope these tips have helped and use your own discretion. May your celebrations be bug-free and Happy New Year.

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