I have a mystery. My annual colds are getting more debilitating each year. I missed 5 work days with this cold, and I was sick on both connecting weekends too. I still have nasty lingering symptoms. This year was so bad that I’m freaked out about next year already. Usually when I get a cold I’ll miss a couple days of work and get some reading done. I didn’t even feel like reading this year.
Why? Here are some possibilities:
- I’m getting older – is a cold harder to handle at 59 than 49 or 39? How will they feel at 69, 79, 89?
- I’ve been taking flu shots for the last three years, could this be a side-effect?
- I’ve been living in a new (old) house and it has a new heating system – could that affect my system?
- I’m exercising less because of a back problem – could reduce stamina hurt my ability to handle a cold?
- Maybe I just hit a run of stronger cold strains and things will change?
- Or is it only a matter of self-deception and the current infection is always the worse?
Looking back over my life I don’t remember colds being this unpleasant, but the one I’m getting over now has been a doozy. And to be honest, after studying colds and flus, some of my memories of having the flu might actually have been a cold, so that I did have some bad colds when I was younger.
Wikipedia has a wonderful essay on the common cold. It says the average adult gets 2-4 colds a year, and the average kid gets 6-12 cold infections annually. It also says the average length of a cold is 7-10 days with some symptoms lasting up to 3 weeks. Now that describe my “bad” colds. And hell, I don’t ever remember having that many colds, either as an adult or a kid. (If you do the math from Wikipedia, something sounds fishy though. Some people must be sick all year round.)
I do think I’m on a four winter streak of ever worse colds, and I wonder why.
Under normal conditions having a cold wasn’t all that bad, I took off from work and read. I’ve even thought that a cold produces a nice high that’s perfect for rereading favorite novels and wallowing in nostalgia. This year I couldn’t read. I watched damn little TV. I just tried to sleep as much as possible to escape the misery of the moment. It’s been 12 days now, with the last three back at work. I’m better, but I have a lingering hacking cough that scares my co-workers and keeps me up at night. I’m still coughing up green pus, blowing out green snot (which is sometimes bloody), and if I leave my eyes shut for any length of time they will gum up with green goo.
People keep telling me to go to the doctor and get antibiotics. Several people have said green is a sign of infection and I need antibiotics to fight it off. I found this article that contradicts that. And besides, I’m afraid of going to a doctor. I picture her waiting room filled with sick people with even more germs to infect me. And I’m also chicken about taking antibiotics. I ended up in the emergency room in my twenties and I was told it was probably a reaction to penicillin.
I’m a total wimp when it comes to getting sick. If I can barely handle a cold now, how will the flu feel? If my body can’t handle a common ailment how will it do if I have a heart attack, or pneumonia or cancer, or any of those other diseases old people get? I need to build up some stamina if I’m going to even make it to my social security years. It makes me wonder if God is getting me back for my skeptical life, or at least my body is getting me back for living a slothful, overweight life. How can I redeem myself?
My friend Mike is four years younger than me, but when he had some health problems, he took control, lost weight, and is now running half marathons. I need to make Mike my role model, but there’s one problem. Mike has always been very disciplined and I’m not. I’ve been trying to lose weight for twenty-five years and never have succeeded. And that’s despite the fact that I’ve given up eating most of my favorite junk foods.
Be that as it may, I still need to work a little miracle of self-transformation on myself. I just don’t know how. I also feel that if I don’t find some method of aerobic exercise that my back can tolerate that my vitality and stamina is in a slow decline. I bet next year’s cold will be even worse than this year’s cold.
JWH – 1/26/11