Having a cold is like You’ve Been Framed, or childbirth. You forget how bad these things are till you’re right in the middle of them. Plus there’s an element of denial. Every single Day Zero (the day before I realise I have a cold), I take antihistamines by the fistful, convinced that my non-stop sneezing is due to an unseasonal outbreak of hay-fever, brought on by all the, er, snow pollen. I do vaguely wonder why the Clarityns aren’t working but generally my cotton wool head can’t be bothered thinking about it; a cotton wool head being, of course, another Sign Of A Cold.
Then I awake on Day One, with a rasping throat seemingly lined with jagged Kettle Chips, and light dawns. I Have A Cold. The next phase is pondering out loud how I could possibly have contracted this virus. It remains a mystery until Man of the House points out that the children have permanent colds all year round, and that more specifically, Thing Two sneezed in my cereal the other day. “And you just carried on eating,” he accuses, making his ‘my wife is disgusting’ face. I’m not saying I did carry on eating, but I will say that it was the last of the Shreddies.
Day Two is when you wake to find your pillow more drool than polycotton, because your nose has delegated the role of breathing to your mouth. Day Three is when you start sketching blueprints of processing factories that could harness the power of your extraordinary quantities of mucus, and turn it into alternative energy. This is also the day when you put false hope in chemical cures. Two aspirin, a decongestant, an ibuprofen chaser, and a Lemsip to wash it all down, that’ll sort me out, you think. But this Belushi-esque drug cocktail merely trades Coldy Person for Stultified Person. Beware any Day Three decisions you make: they may be dangerous, and will definitely be unstylish. Such as deciding new brake pads are not as essential a purchase as that pink tartan Fedora, to take a random example.
Day Four is when you forget what it’s like not to have a cold. This is it now, you think, dragging your dull body round like a bulging sack of miserable. This is how it’ll be for the rest of my pitiful life. Coincidentally, this is also the day when friends and family become unsympathetic, and say things like, “It’s only a cold,” “Your used tissues are not an art installation, please remove them from the table,” and “Take off that ridiculous tartan Fedora.” Day Five you remember you’re meant to feed a cold, so you make up for lost time with a king-size Galaxy Bubble bar.
Day Six the cold starts to wane. It’s almost been worth having it, for how wonderful you feel when you start to get better.
Beth Miller, 11th Dec 2012. Published in VivaLewes.com