WORDS BY BEN DUNGAN
In the previous three winters, I have had two colds. Do the math – that means one entire winter season, I went cold-free. That also means I went an entire year without having to scour the pharmacy aisles looking to buy the right “nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, so I can rest” medicine.
I even bragged about it. Deep down, I knew I probably shouldn’t have, but I was proud. Friends and coworkers would come to me complaining how they felt bad and I’d in turn tell them how I went a whole year without a cold. I am sure it was exactly what they wanted to hear.
But all of that was before this winter. Karma has a funny way of revealing itself. In the last month, I’ve had not one, but two colds. Maybe I should quit bragging. Maybe I’m not as immune as I thought.
If April showers bring us May flowers, then Christmas hugs and handshakes bring us January coughs and sinus headaches. There’s no way around it.
After a busy and stressful holiday season, our immune systems are shot. And as a result, you end up like me – two colds in one month.
When you’re sick, everyone has advice. Especially the mothers out there.
All it takes is one cough, one sniffle or one sneeze, and mothers everywhere instantly become doctors. They dole out advice like doctors dole out prescriptions. Of course, the difference is, mothers do it with love.
“You should take this. You should take that. You need to drink hot tea. You need to eat more chicken soup. You just need to rest.” That’s the problem with the common cold – everyone’s an expert on how to treat it, yet nobody knows how to cure it.
Enjoying the article? Get online exclusives plus articles from the print magazine every Tuesday
Even the clerk at the WalMart self-checkout had advice. Usually self-checkout means, you know, you check yourself out. That’s not how it works when you want to purchase any sinus and cold medicine. They need to approve that.
So in addition to the purchase approval, the Walmart clerk also tells me how sick she was the week before and how she finally beat it. She was probably a mother too.
She proceeds to rattle off a laundry list of all the vitamins and supplements she’s currently taking including all of the B vitamins, all of the D vitamins, potassium, magnesium and I’m sure a half a dozen other things before I eventually tuned her out.
People mean well, especially mothers. But sometimes, all you want to do is curl up in a ball and just sleep. But that’s the problem with the common cold. It just knocks you back – but rarely knocks you out. Unlike the flu.
So we fight through it, go through our normal day-to-day routines. We carry on. We show up to work feeling subpar.
Maybe the reason we can’t shake the icy clutches of the common cold is because we try to fight through it. We feel bad, yet not bad enough to warrant laying in bed all day.
A wise person once said, “An untreated cold lasts as long as seven days and a treated cold lasts only one week.” This wise person was probably a mother too.
There is no cure for the common cold. It is a viral illness that just needs to run its course. In an age of “on-demand” and “there’s an app for that”, there is no quick fix for the common cold. It’s like a metaphor for the winter season we’re in. Only way out of it is through it. Hunker down and ride it out.
The older you get, you realize your mom was right. And while there is no cure for the common cold, there is something healing and comforting in a mother’s love, along with a side of chicken soup, and of course, rest.
Eventually, we all find a way to beat the common cold. Just not in the way we wanted to and not in the time frame we had hoped for. There’s more winter weather ahead and more hugs and handshakes to be had. Just remember what your mother always said – make sure you constantly wash your hands and if you go outside this winter, make sure you wear a jacket.
We wouldn’t want you to catch another cold.