Imagine you are lying in a comfortable position. There is a warm blanket wrapped around you, and a warm drink easily reachable at your side. You are being waited on hand and foot, only expected to lie there and be comfortable, and you spend days at a time like this. To some this could sound like paradise. To others it might be torture. Either way, it is a lifestyle that can only be lived by two groups of people: the fantastically wealthy, and the terribly sick.
Last time I checked, I don’t fit into the former group. Considering I spent the last two days in the situation described above, I must belong to the latter. I must be sick.
I do not mean sick in the context of, “that was a sick kick-flip, bro.” Rather, I mean that I am ill, unwell, ailing, indisposed, or under the weather. Despite being afflicted with nothing more than a common cold, it has been a burden.
It is no surprise that movies never feature a main character that is sick. “I could have been a contender, if it wasn’t for this cold,” or, “To boldly go… to the bathroom, to blow my nose,” just do not have the same impact as the original lines.
How is a person supposed to do anything fun when they can barely breathe? Even rest and relaxation is ruined. Every time someone with a cold puts their head down, there is the chance that they will be overwhelmed by a coughing fit.
Coughing is the worst. It is a violent form of breathing that hurts not only the lungs, but makes the whole body ache. While all coughing is bad, some varieties are worse than others. Given the choice, I would choose a wet cough over a dry one. Actually, I would choose not to cough at all, but that sounds like a secret option that requires cheat-codes to activate.
Both types of cough are painful, but with a wet cough at least something is being coughed up, providing the sense that the sickness might be ejected. Dry coughs hurt, and rattle, and there is nothing to show for it. I don’t know about you, but when I have been coughing and wheezing, I want to see some phlegm.
Then there are the secondary symptoms of the cold. There are the all-over aches that seem to grow stronger with every heartbeat. At least those pains can be mitigated with icepacks and painkillers, unlike the sore throat. A sore throat is a pain that is on the inside, and much more difficult to deal with. I have yet to find a remedy that provides more than mediocre and extremely temporary relief. Sure, there are a lot of things you can try, from simply drinking water to gargling elaborate solutions. They all have the same results: two seconds of relief followed by a complete resurgence of the pain.
My personal favorite is the headache. All of the other symptoms have their own special talents, but a headache can make a person dizzy, nauseous, and feel the need to throw up just because they looked at light the wrong way.
Modern Western medicine provides many antidotes to the cold. The trouble is that these just cover up the symptoms, and can sometimes make things worse. You take painkillers for the sore throat and headache only to find that now your stomach hurts. You take cough syrup to sleep, only to be awakened later by the bowel movements it causes.
The mental symptoms of the cold might be even worse than the physical ones, and there isn’t even a mediocre remedy. Being sick makes me feel worthless. It makes it so I can’t even think straight, let alone live up to my responsibilities. It is an embarrassing malfunction, and there is absolutely nothing proactive to be done about it. Trying to fight the sickness just makes it worse. Trying to, “walk it off,” just makes it last longer. The best thing to do is to do nothing, which is very Zen, but a difficult concept to embrace.
However, there is one good thing about being sick. At least it can get you out of work.