Tried to Think of a Sick Title, But I Came Up Cold

One joy of this blog is that I can read posts I wrote back when I was still young and naïve—specifically the post I wrote last week about appreciating llamas up close, because said llamas are quite possibly why I contracted the bubonic plague or whatever this is. It’s all conjecture at this point anyway.

animal virus
If we agree that “rhinovirus” is an acceptable name…

An essential stage of illness is reflecting on the times you took not being sick for granted, except I didn’t experience as many of those occasions as you’d think. This past year, I got sick every full month I stayed on campus—five, with each bout lasting about a week, making them 1/6 of my college experience. Considering how infrequently I saw even people in my academic programs, it’s likely that some acquaintances assume my voice sounds like a chronic goose impression. (More importantly, do they think I’m any good?) I wouldn’t say that my recurring cold ruined social interaction for me because you can’t ruin something that’s numb to existence, but the cold definitely didn’t help.

My fondest sick-in-college memories

  1. Sitting miserably through lectures, pointedly not clearing my throat so the irritation wouldn’t trigger unstoppable coughing, only to be called on and then have to quickly and audibly clear all the phlegm from my throat like I’d been storing a reservoir just for that moment
  2. Witnessing the skin beneath my nostrils accelerate 40 versions ahead of the skin on the rest of me
  3. Stomaching entire packets of Ricola lemon cough drops that roughen the roof of your mouth and so many ginger squares (the instant kind that, added to hot water, makes tea)
  4. Someone commenting that I was “always popping things” in class. I assured him they were Altoids to stop me from coughing, but I wouldn’t have believed me either.
  5. That one time I walked into my professor’s office hours, told him I was sick, and then went over a test with him sitting across the room, thirty feet between us, because he’d “never gotten sick in his 30+ years of teaching.”
teacher sick
I mean, props to him.

So, given all the precedent, catching a cold during the summer was a new development but not much of a surprise. I woke up at 3AM the first day with a sore throat and sat at the kitchen table trying to calculate whether I could afford to call in sick, in other words doing more math than I’d done all freshman year. It was only Wednesday, but I budgeted a week for the cold to run its course and didn’t remember if symptoms usually worsened by the second day. I ended up going to work, single-handedly exhausting the office’s supply of paper towels, hardly able to keep up with my running nose on account of my regularly skipping cardio. (Because… running. Ha.)

Day 2 felt like an invisible hand had planted itself in my hair and was squeezing my head to pulp. I let my supervisor know I’d be working from home. In context, it typically takes a lot for me to call in sick, because doing so feels like losing. To rationality. Except usually, I didn’t have splitting headaches that woke me up in two-hour intervals so I could get up and stuff sandwich bags underneath my pillow like some sort of vomit ward and resume dreaming about something I was trying and failing to do (obviously not specific enough parameters for me to remember my dream.)

tired sick
“In fact, I’m even MORE productive working from home.”

Mom also insisted on drawing me a “hot bath with ginger.” She’s adamant that taking scalding baths and drinking nasty ginger tea are the one true remedy, the logic being that taking these steps make you lose all the will to live, at which point the virus realizes its presence is no longer needed and departs.

This time, though, when the bathtub had become half full, Mom emerged not with the typical mug of ginger tea but a pot of boiling water. Forgetting that she must have had countless opportunities to kill me up until this point, I panicked as she approached. And then I saw what was in the water.

Ginger. Like, just slices of raw ginger. I watched the slices float into the tub and was filled with an ineffable frustration partly from the utter lack of scientific basis and to an even greater extent the high probability this quack cure was going to work. Probably the worst part of Mom’s method is that it’s so far always coincided with me getting better so I can’t even say anything.

I was right. The next day, my sore throat and migraine had subsided to a stuffy nose and ringing ears. Privately I considered a more likely explanation than the ginger bath. Maybe taking a day off and resting instead of struggling through a week to not miss classes had sped up my recovery. Or maybe I’d succumbed to DART germs and touching llamas had actually gifted me faster healing powers.

I’ll investigate further the next time I get sick… in about a month.

If you ask me, the problem is how affirmative the word “catch” is. “Catching” makes it sound like you’ve put forth effort to seek something out, when it should be the other way around if there’s any hope of discouraging me. Russia’s got the right idea; there, colds catch you.

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Also, if you’re still reading this, check out this Postillon article, “First intensive care unit opened for men suffering from cold,” I found while researching cold symptoms. It’s like the German-based Onion, I think. Happy Sunday.


13 thoughts on “Tried to Think of a Sick Title, But I Came Up Cold

  1. The last time I had a cold I decided to white knuckle through it and go to class. Three days later, I woke up sounding like a grandma that chain smokes three times a day. Apparently my cold had developed into bronchitis. Did I learn my lesson and stay home to recover? Nope. I went to class with bronchitis until my classmate looked me in my watering, sickly eyes and told me to go home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes! How long did it last? Did you go home afterward, at least? One of the joys I assume people have when others are sick is that they can freely tell someone they dislike to scram without repercussions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know I shouldn’t laugh at your sickness, but you make it sound so amusing. Not the symptoms, of course. The symptoms suck. For the record, my Dad believed in super hot baths while drinking scalding hot lemonade. I’d rather cough. If I do get a cold, I do the zinc thing. That helps more than scalding lemonade, anyhow. I’ll have to try the ginger…stirfry anyone?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “the logic being that taking these steps make you lose all the will to live, at which point the virus realizes its presence is no longer needed and departs.”

    UGH. This is how I feel about Lemsip. I would literally rather suffer through two weeks of a cold than drink those sachets of scum.

    Glad you’re feeling a bit better! I suppose we’ll never know whether it was the ginger bath that did the trick…! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What on EARTH is Lemsip? I mean, presumably it’s lemon-flavored medicine (dissolving tablet?), but if they couldn’t come up with a better name than that, I wouldn’t be too eager to try it out. Thanks! And of course, that’s how it always works :/


  4. I’ve been there, the unstoppable cough especially…i had to carry a bottle of water throughout that period,but that didn’t help much.. It was quite embarrassing..a friend was nearly asked out of the lecture hall because she came out to check up on me.. We shouldn’t wait to experience the bad(e.g illnesses), before we value and show gratitude for the good(e.g good health).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Vikki! Asked out of the lecture hall? Seems counterproductive if she was already outside, unless she was asked to leave again once she’d returned, in which case you’d think professors could be understanding human beings occasionally 😦


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