Saturday, September 29, 2012

There's Something Going Around

     I came back from a short vacation on Cape Cod a couple of weeks ago with a wicked cold. I'm mostly over it now, but still have some leftover stuffiness and a lingering cough.

     My friend Peter was laid up last week. His wife came home from work with a cold and was out for a couple of days, then he got it from her, and since he never seems to be in great health anyway, he got it bad. He ran a fever and couldn't get out of bed for three days. What he had sounded different from what I had. Maybe the flu?

What works for you?
     "Did you get a flu shot?" I asked him.

     "Nah, I don't get those shots," he scoffed. "I got one when I was younger. Gave me a nasty case of the flu. I swore off the shots."

     I thought that might possibly be a coincidence. But nevermind. I asked him if he took vitamin C. No, he didn't do that either.

     I used to swear by vitamin C. But for some reason it seems to have lost its effectiveness with me. Maybe I've become immune to vitamin C, or maybe it never worked anyway. But still, I try to hang onto my belief, for lack of anything better, and I gobble down those chunky pills at the first sign of a sniffle.

     A few years ago when I got my usual autumn cold, I went over to my local CVS pharmacy. I stood there eyeing the dizzying array of cough medicines and throat lozenges and cough drops. I must have looked confused because eventually a young clerk sidled up to me and asked if he could help. I told him I had a cold with a bad cough and was looking for something to help me out.

     "Try this," he said, pointing to a pack of cough drops with zinc and echinacea. "I grew up in Buffalo, and that's what we always used up there."

     I figured anyone from Buffalo ought to know what cures a cold, and so I tried some. It seemed to work for me, so I've added zinc and echinacea to my list of supposedly-effective cold remedies. Like I said, I'm not sure how well any of it works, but you gotta do something.

     Actually, I've read that the best way to avoid getting a cold is not vitamin C or echinacea or anything else you might take. The secret is washing your hands -- often and thoroughly. The person who has the cold, so he doesn't spread his germs around. And the person trying to avoid getting a cold, so if he does pick up some germs he doesn't transfer them into his mouth or eyes or wherever.

     Anyway, something is definitely going around. B's coworker at the library was out for a few days last week. B's coworker takes a sick day if she breaks a fingernail, so it's hard to tell how bad she had it. But somehow, even with me being sick, and then her coworker, B hasn't come down with anything.

     But then B is a rock. The women in her family never get sick, and they live forever. Even when B does catch a cold she won't take off from work unless she's practically paralyzed. She's been working at the library for five years now, and you could count her number of sick days on one hand.

     Maybe it's the changing of the seasons, because it's not just around where I live. I talked to a friend in Washington, DC, the other day, and she told me she has a cold. And I was IM'ing with my ex-wife who lives in Georgia. She too is fighting a cold, and said her brother was sick as well. Her nephew has a young boy who goes to daycare. They're all sick. But then I know from experience, if you want to get sick, send your kid to daycare.

     Actually, B says it's good to get yourself exposed to all those germs. "Builds up your immune system," she claims. But that's easy for her to say . . . she never gets sick!

     I've got my annual physical coming up later in October. I'll make sure to get a flu shot then. Meanwhile, I'm going to wash my hands. May everyone stay healthy!



Linda Myers said...

We do Airborne for a cold.

rosaria williams said...

We drink hot water with honey and lemons. And, wash our hands often.

Rubye Jack said...

I was just sitting here thinking I'm getting a cold what with the sore throat and burning eyes I have. It seems every September when school starts up, the colds start up. I've never gotten a flu shot before but may this year since I've started working again.

June said...

"Even when B does catch a cold she won't take off from work unless she's practically paralyzed."
I'm sure her coworkers are ever so grateful that she tows herself and her viruses into their environment.

My theory is that the only way to get rid of a cold is to let it knock you over, send you to bed with tissues, anti-inflammatories, and a good book. After two or three days, bingo! you're better.

Retired Syd said...

I used to get 2 or 3 colds ever year when I was working. Then after I got over the cold that I got the first day of my retirement, I never got another cold again until I started working again.

Take two retirements and call me in the morning.

Madeline Hill,Astrologer,Tarot Counselor,Intuitive said...

We practice a lot of traditional chinese medicine in my family.They say at the change of seasons is a vulnerable time for your life energy (chi)..and in the east, they often get an acupuncture treatment at the change of each season. So, if you usually get sick in the autumn, a preventive acupuncture treatment may just do the trick!! I find having a good acupuncturist in my area that I can visit when I need her, is INVALUABLE! I hit a chronic fatigue period after moving and a couple of visits restored me! Anyway-- hope you are feeling better!!!!!

Arkansas Patti said...

Awwwww poor baby. Colds, flu both stink. I take echinacea at the first sign of someone elses cold as a preventive and get a bit fanatical about hand washing. Mostly works.
Feel better soon and sure hope that strain isn't south bound.

Olga said...

When I first started school I was sick all the time. When I first started teaching I caught everything that went around. Eventually, I was immune to nearly everything and rarely got sick. When I catch something now, though, it wipes me out for a while and I hate it. Lots of hand washing and staying hydrated are what I swear by for prevention.

Stephen Hayes said...

I notice that people who bite their nails (I was one of these people for many years) get colds more often than those who don't nibble on their fingers.

Retired English Teacher said...

Get better fast. I had my flu shot this past week. I hope to dodge the flu again this year.

Anonymous said...

Most often...maybe it's human nature, but I tend to critcize more often than I hail others. I've been reading your blog for a few months but wanted to show you some "love".
I really enjoy your succinct but casual comments on everything. Your views on the ordinary and even issues are both entertaining yet insightful. Keep it up.

Tom Sightings said...

In defense of B, I should note that I was exaggerating -- her female relatives don't really live "forever" and she is actually fairly responsible when it comes to staying home so as not to infect her coworkers with cold and flu germs. But the point is, she rarely gets sick, so that's hardly an issue for her anyway.

Drinking plenty of fluids is good advice. (Does beer count?) As far as retiring goes, I too found that once I'd left work I never suffered from any stress-related ailments (such as back problems) -- and, I guess colds are at least in part stress related. But I had never heard of the bite-your-nails theory. When you think about it, though, it makes perfect sense. Stephen, you should'a been a doctor!

And . . . Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. Thanks for the "love"!

schmidleysscribblins, said...

I always get a flu shot. I got my shot in September and had a mild something afterward, but its much better than the flu. Dianne

PS good luck with the physical.