A good time to get sick?

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/31/19

There isn’t a good time to get sick, but there are times we get sick that seem more ill-timed than others.

The start of a three-day weekend is one of those times.

That was the situation I was …

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A good time to get sick?

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There isn’t a good time to get sick, but there are times we get sick that seem more ill-timed than others.

The start of a three-day weekend is one of those times.

That was the situation I was in Friday afternoon. On the cusp of the long Memorial Day weekend, I first felt the tell-tale tickle in the back of my throat.

By nightfall, any optimism I’d mustered that the tickly situation was fleeting — or could be blamed, as we like to do with these things, on “allergies” — was fading faster than my energy level.

As unwelcome as this health report was, it wasn’t entirely surprising. I’d spent the two days prior keeping what I hoped was a safe distance from my school teacher wife, who’d been the recipient of one last illness for the 2018/19 school year. Just in time for the EOG’s, she’d succumbed to sore throat, sneezing and coughing; and though I’d done everything I could short of moving into another house for the duration, by the time I pulled the sheets up to my chin Friday night, shivering underneath, I knew the bug had been passed to me.

This is as good a time as any to note that the common cold, as we know it, badly needs a new agent; and I’d suggest it hire whoever represents the flu because common though it may be, a cold can pack a punch, too, and deserves credit.

This one certainly punched me, zapping me of energy, appetite, stamina and all the other things we rely on to get through an average day. By mid-morning Saturday, I was bleary-eyed, sweaty and miserable. My quick trip to the grocery store for saltines and frozen ice pops — the only two things I thought I could manage to eat — took nearly all the energy I had left.

After a meal of two frozen pops — one orange, one grape — and a couple of saltine crackers, I settled in for what I knew would be a long day.

I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for myself. This, after all, was precious time wasted. While our neighbors were taking full advantage of the sunny weather with family and friends and cookouts, we were shuttered indoors like a couple of zombies. I don’t dislike a lazy day; I just like to be well enough to enjoy it.

Throats hurting and heads throbbing, we tried nevertheless to live as normally as possible, attempting to divert our minds from our ailments with Netflix; but at that we were only partially successful. A new Spanish-language drama called “High Seas” looked like just the salve we needed. What better way to spend an ailing afternoon than getting engrossed in an Agatha Christie-like period mystery set aboard a ship carrying 1,600 passengers from Spain to Brazil? If only I’d had the energy. I couldn’t focus on the intricate story and reading English subtitles for the Spanish production required more bandwidth than I could manage.

About 11 minutes into the second episode, I fell asleep.

And I slept for what may be a personal record.

I was knocked out for the next 16 hours, with only a couple of brief interruptions: one, my wife stirring me momentarily (at about 8 p.m.) to make sure I was still alive; two, waking on my own around 2 a.m., badly in need of another frozen pop (this time, cherry).

But sleep was, it turned out, exactly the thing I needed.

By Sunday, I wasn’t ready to run marathons, but I was much better; my head no longer pounded, the sore throat had largely abated; I could stand for more than a couple of minutes without fear of falling; and I believed I would live to see another day.

We managed in what remained of the weekend to finish watching “High Seas,” but, even though I felt a bit better, my improving health couldn’t compensate for the drama’s many plot holes. But it did make me think about something other than my own misery, and for that I was grateful.

When I started seeing a light at the end of my tunnel of sickness, I noticed an irony: the timing of my illness, though bad on first blush, was actually perfect. It’s true it ruined the classic joys of a long weekend. But it was also that long weekend that afforded me the thing I most needed to get better.

So here’s something the common cold’s publicist would probably rather we didn’t know: there is no good time to catch a common cold, but if you have to, try and catch it when you can fit in 16 hours of sleep. Colds don’t seem to like that.


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