After attending church on Sunday, my nose started to tingle by that evening. We visited the Praise Service and participated in an ad hoc Nativity Scene in which everyone chose a character to portray. There were Wise Men and Angels, Sheep and Donkeys. Joseph and Mary too.
Sue and I chose to be Wise Men. She was quite pleased to temporarily receive a sparkling gold crown to place on her head. “I like this crown,” she muttered softly over my shoulder. She looked cute in it.
Actually, she’s been the Queen of Workout Discipline of late. Her coach has her building a winter base with running and cycling workouts. Most of these have been done indoors on the bike trainer and treadmill the last week. A combo of heavy snowfall followed by zero degree temperatures has made running outside less than inviting.
But more impressively, she hardly let her head and chest cold symptoms slow her down at all. She simply excels at putting up with a cold. Despite aching muscles and phlegm that could choke a horse, she went through her paces including her plyometric exercises to build strength. Finally, her cold abated. Yesterday she announced, “I ran from the office to the train tonight and I feel really bouncy.”
Perhaps you know the beauty of that duality. Once you’re over being sick it’s like a weight is lifted from your shoulders. But if you’re in decent training mode, that can happen any day of the week. Your legs feel stronger. There’s a bounce in your step. Even the cold weather can’t keep you down.
I’m not training quite as hard as Sue. And yet, last Saturday I got out for six miles with a friend even as a stiff wind was nipping at our ears. Then came Monday morning and we went for a tough Masters swim workout with 6 X 100 tacked at 30-unders. This was all tacked onto a prodigious warmup session and some fast 25s between.
By Monday afternoon, there came a scratch in my throat followed by sneezing. By evening I felt slow and draggy. Then the sneezing turned into a hacking cough. Praise the Lord, by last evening, just two days after it started, the cold mercifully began to abate. It’s gross when the phlegm starts flying out, but it’s a relief as well.
What do you zinc about zat?
Perhaps my use of zinc tablets forced the cold to die out. I always take zinc when a cold is coming on and even through the first few days, because it seems to keep it from getting worse. Way back in the Big Training Days, getting colds was so common I learned all the little warning signs. Now when my nose starts to tingle or the throat goes a bit tight, I take Zicam or Cold-Eaze and let them melt in my mouth. It sure seems to help keep colds away. I seldom get them very often or for very long these days.
There was a time when I was perhaps a bit of a baby about having colds. Yet I kind of forgive myself for that. In my teen years and during college and through my 20s, the colds I got were so severe they were outright painful to endure. Part of that came from the lowered resistance caused by intense training.
Sometimes it’s just a fact of life that when you’re exposed to a cold virus in some ways, the symptoms can start and take hold no matter what you do. When I sat there in church last Sunday watching little kids cough without covering their mouths, I said to myself, “Well, this won’t end well.”
I recall another Praise Service at another church where one of the Praise Team directors had a morbid fear of germs. We were seated in the front pew waiting for children’s story time to begin and she was already visibly tense about all the coughing and hacking she heard from the pews behind us. When a group of twenty children sat down right below her feet and proceeded to cough and wipe their snotty noses within inches of her, she covered her mouth with a program. At one point, she literally waved her hand as if to shoo away the germs floating through the air.
I’m not so paranoid. Half the reason most of us are healthy in life is that we build up immunity through regular exposure to dirt and germs and conservatism. Society is learning that too much sanitizing and trying to control every blasted germ, virus or chunk of literal dogma can lead to weakened immune systems and lowered intelligence.
Flu shots my ass
Even the annual flu shots we receive are little more than the utility infielders of disease prevention. Medical experts pick samples of the most common influenza strain and dish out vaccines designed to increase the antibodies in our system that help us combat the flu. Doctors now admit as much. They’re not being assholes about it. They just want you to know that flu shots are not 100% foolproof.
And there is absolutely no such thing as a cold vaccine.This is true because there are so many strains of the common cold. Some start with snotty nose and go to a cough. Others start with a sore throat that evolves into the snotty nose, and that leads to a cough from the snot draining down your throat. Still, others start as a cough and stay as a cough. Those can last for weeks. The cough literally becomes part of your personality, like carrying around a Coach handbag or wearing a black whale tail thong under your white jeans. People come to know you by your quirkiest aspects, and a persistent hacking cough is one of those attributes people grow used to tolerating, but make no mention of it in polite company.
The best you can do for any cold is treat it preventatively with the mild chemotherapy of zinc or Vitamin C. Otherwise, there are cold medicines you can use. But these deal more with cold symptoms, because nothing yet invented provides a real cure for a cold.
Share and share alike
Perhaps my cold simply migrated in part from Sue’s nose and chest to mine. We’re close buddies, you know. Colds happen. It’s kind of like, so what? Like the vows say, “In sickness and in health.” It’s share and share alike in partnership. Take the bad with the good, because it means you’re connected to the world and each other in an intimate way.
Yet there is also an art both to putting up with a cold… and putting up with the cold. These two needs tend to go together. We’re all cooped up during the winter season here in North America. People are crammed together indoors, which turns us all into walking, breathing germ factories. We infect each other through human contact, by leaving germs on doorknobs and by carrying around hacking toddlers who crawl all all over the place including God’s own house, the church. Or synagogue. Or mosque. The common cold cares not about one’s religion or view of God. We’re all just spicy human meals to the common cold virus.
All you need is love
You just gotta love it, don’t you? It’s the human condition. Deal with it. Put up with it all. The human condition demands interaction, lest we all seek to live like the germ-fearing Howard Hughes, locked away with all that money and living in a prison of OCD about microbes.
Screw that. Rather than live like hermits unfit for this world, let’s all go forth and run and ride and swim and pray and share and love and catch a cold now and then. It’s what we’re living for.