It is what it is: Coping with a cold

I recently came down with whatever strain of the crud that’s been going around this fall, and discovered that my reaction to being sick is much different now than it used to be.

Before I get into that, I’d like to make sure to thank my wife, a teacher, and my kids for bringing home all those exotic new germs during the first month of school. It’s wonderful to have a family that loves to share.

Anyway, I don’t get sick too often (knock on wood), usually one nasty head cold a year. In 20 years of working, I’ve taken just a handful of sick days.

But where being sick used to faced with stoicism, I now just get ticked off.

It doesn’t seem like too long ago that the response to getting sick was something along the lines of “cowboy up.” Colds were something to tough out. I would take my medicine, then slog through a day or three feeling fuzzy in the brain from the daytime cold formula, and groggy in the morning from the nighttime version. I’d put in a full day at the office, all the while maintaining a stiff upper lip (as well as a pile of tissues and a bag of cough drops).

This time around, symptoms included a stuffy head and a cough. As symptoms came on and gradually worsened, I found myself getting more and more annoyed with the situation. Perturbed would be a good description of my mood, and while the symptoms really weren’t all that bad, I found myself having difficulty mustering the focus and energy to get anything done. In fact, I remember talking to one caller who was asking some technical questions about submitting a graphic, and having to apologize for being unable to give him a coherent answer.

I even took up an offer from a staffer who volunteered to handle my evening duties — something I never would have done a few years ago. I’m honestly not sure if she was feeling sympathy for my condition, of if she was annoyed with my disposition and just wanted me out of the office.

In any case, I have become much more appreciative of a nice bowl of chicken soup and hot cup of tea, and found myself with less patience for those daily annoyances.

I recently saw an social media meme referring to this condition as “man flu,” implying that somehow we gentlemen are wimpier when it comes to coping with a little discomfort brought on by a cold or flu.

I prefer to think of it as simply having a better understanding of when it’s time to step back for a moment and get myself healthy. Perhaps I’ve learned that if there’s one thing worse than being annoyed about being sick, it’s forcing other people to have to cope with an annoyed sick person.

Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at

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