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2:24pm on Sunday, 16th December, 2007:

Bad Colds


I have a cold.

If you don't like descriptions of nasal goings-on, you might not want to read the rest of this post...

I get spectacularly bad colds. I caught this one from my wife, who shrugs colds off with ease. She had to blow her nose twice with this one, that's how much it affected her; I blow my nose more than that every day even when I don't have a cold. When I do get one, well, I've already been through two boxes of man-sized paper tissues with this one and I only came down with it yesterday.

I thought I was going to escape catching it, and was indeed succeeding, but two evenings ago I was drinking a cup of tea when some of it went down the wrong way and I managed to choke enough on it that a bit made its way to the back of my nose. I think it must have taken off some skin or some mucus or something, because at that exact moment I could tell I was going to get the cold. It felt sore, which meant that it was open to infection, and it duly became infected.

I don't get headaches, so don't suffer in that regard as much as people normally do when they have a cold. However, I have prodigious snot-producing powers. Once, I caught a cold at school and had no tissues with me; I had to keep using the same handerchief, and impressed all my friends with the amount of liquid I could wring out of it into a drawer during a chemistry lesson. It's corrosive, too, rapidly turning my upper lip and the sides of my nostrils into flayed, red masses. When I'm recovering, people sometimes ask me if I've fallen on my face, it can be that scabby.

Most of the time, having a cold makes little difference to me except for having to carry tissues with me the whole time. I don't get many of the secondary effects like aching limbs or shivering, although to some extent it depends on the cold (I got a bit of it this time round, for example). Most of the action takes place over the course of one day, which in this cold's case was yesterday; today I still need several tissues with me at all times, but I get enough time to remove one from my pocket when I need to blow my nose (yesterday, I had to keep one immediately to hand, so I could catch any sudden drips in time). As a coughing, gurgling mass of infection I'm hardly popular in company, though, which makes it touch and go as to whether I'll attend the Departmental Christmas Lunch tomorrow in Colchester.

For medication, the only thing that really makes a difference is an Actifed. However, this can in theory cause drowsiness, which means I can't drive after taking one. Things like LemSips aren't a lot of help; it used to be I could use one to fend off a cold when I felt its onset, but nowadays they pack them with so many extras they don't do much. If I don't have a headache, sort throat, or blocked nose (!), then taking something that aims to cure me of these ailments is rather a waste of time.

I don't get colds as much as I used to (when I was 5, I had 13 in one year, which left me close to being deaf), however I still get them. My mum gets the same kind of cold as me ("streamers", she calls them) and still hasn't built up an immunity to every virus. Every time I'm in full flow, I get the feeling that whatever my ultimate cause of death will be, there'll be a cold involved somewhere. Maybe I'll cough too explosively and give myself a coronary, or perhaps one will turn into pneumonia, or maybe I'll come down with one at the start of a 400-mile drive. They cause enough of a dip in my health that if I do have anything just waiting to go wrong with me, I'd expect some cold would be enough to trigger it off.

Still, I'm leaving my body to medical science when I die, so whoever gets to chop it up will be able to report on the damage a simple cold can do. At least I'll feel better for it, anyway.

Referenced by Urrr....

Referenced by A Sense of Doom.

Referenced by Cold Warning.

Referenced by Bad Cold.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).