Winter - Iciclesby Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 3/2003

I finally have a title for my new book: “When bad colds happen to good people.”

Yes, I have a cold again and I’m not a happy camper.

I had bronchitis all of month (the same thing that killed the brontosaurus). I took my antibiotics (eventually) and I was better for a while, but last night, I started getting the body-aches, fever, and the “stuffy, sneezy, achy, need lots of meds so I can rest” feeling.

At work people say, “You look tired.” I tell them I have a cold and they shake their head. “Yeah, I had that last week. The sledgehammer pounding in your head gets bad on day four.”

This isn’t fair! I’ve done my time. I had my cold this winter. I had five colds last winter. Hell, I fell on ice this winter.

I’m a nice guy. Ask anyone. Really, you think of me and your immediate response is, “Nice guy. He shouldn’t get the flu like that.” I’m a nice guy. I pay my bills, I’m nice to people, I haven’t given any co-workers the beatings they so richly deserve, and I’m still polite in my letters to the CD club that insists I have to buy four more CDs at regular club prices.

So what interstellar goof-up has once again tipped my cosmic health scales toward being a sicky? I take care of myself: I get sleep, I go to the gym, watch “ER,” drink massive quantities of Coca-Cola — what’s up with this flu thingy?

And today I have the worse symptom of all: I’m whining. I don’t feel good, I need sleep, whaaaaaa. I HATE it when I whine.

Look, I got my flu shot last month — that should have made me impervious to the little microscopic buggers.

But then I realized, I probably should have got a FLU PREVENTION shot instead. Yeah, yeah, I know you can’t get the flu from a flu shot (so no letters, okay?) but the nurse said my flu shot injected supposedly “dormant” little viruses inside me to prevent the flu. Look, I know a thing or two about viruses. Have you have seen what a “dormant” virus can do a computer? It’s not for the faint of heart.

So maybe I didn’t get the flu from the shot, but when the dormant little viruses set up shop, they might have emailed some of their microscopic friends to come to my lungs and party.

Well, at least think about it, okay?

I want to be healthy again. I want the runny nose and achy head to stop. I want to run the Boston Marathon again.

(Note: The fact that I’m writing this column should factor heavily into your evaluation of that last statement).

Speaking of fantasy, forget those dreams of a cure for the flu. We’ll NEVER see a cure for the flu. I mean never. After all, look at the lost revenue. I have done extensive research and learned that the makers of all those cold relievers (Nyquil, Dayquil, NoonQuil, Tylenol-Sinus, Cold-Be-Gone, Vicks Vapor Cloud) enjoy a profit of just shy of eleventy gazillion dollars a year on their cold and flu potions.

Even if a cure exists, you won’t see it in this lifetime, that’s for sure.

Anyway, my cold has another familiar side effect: It has immediately awoken the helpful instincts of my wife, Susan Nightingale.

“When you come home I’ll make you some carrot juice,” she tells me.

“I despise carrot juice,” I remind her.

“I’ll add Echinacea,” she tells me. It helps support a healthy immune system, she says. And maybe some sweet grass. Best thing you can eat. Sure, it tastes exactly like old seaweed, but I’ll feel better.

Nope, I tell her. No seaweed.

“Sweet grass,” she corrects me.

I shake my head like a two year old — which every sick guy is, anyway.

“Then I’ll get you some limes,” she says. Sue’s family has a wonderful home remedy for any type of sickness — limes. Limes contain a straight shot of vitamin C, she tells me (so does my multivitamin, I remind her). Have a head cold? Limes are the answer. Congestion? Limes. Flu? Limes. Traumatic blunt trauma? Limes. Gunshot wound? Heart attack? Limes are the answer. Especially in a rum and Coke, I remind myself.

Sue’s got a good heart and knows a lot more about vitamins, minerals and supplements than me, but because of my male DNA I have to go with the tried and true “guy” method of dealing with sickness — a gulp of cold medicine, four Advil (if two work four work better) and sleep. I draw the blinds, curl up into a little ball under the bed and sleep.

Well, I’m off to bed. Hopefully I’ll feel better in a few days. And as always, please remember that the materials found in this article are not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed health professional. But take those limes!

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