A Thousand Words About The Sniffles

I’ve been traveling quite a bit recently, which is probably how I came to have three colds in three months. It’s infuriating to me, this having three colds in three months, because I’m not a particularly “sick” person. I can go years without so much as a sniffle and then suddenly bam, bam, bam, three colds in three months and before you know it I’ve bought stock in Nyquil and turned into one of those people who carries around their own tissues, and I’m not talking about a discreet little packet of tissues, I’m talking about a box. Ever carried around a box of tissues? You look like an idiot. Plus it’s very unwieldy, a box of tissues. Doesn’t fit in most purses, doesn’t go with most outfits. Stupid accessory, really. I should attach a chain to a box of tissues, sling it over my shoulder like a tote bag, and make a mint. There you go, you can have that idea for free. Tissuepurse! Tissurse!

It sounds weird, but I can pinpoint, to an exact second, the moment I got this cold. I was walking down the street in London last Tuesday, on my way back to the office after picking up a sandwich, and a man right in front of me sneezed. He was walking and I was walking, and so because I didn’t realize it until it was half a millisecond too late, I walked right into the sneeze.

Isn’t that gross? Isn’t that the grossest thing you’ve ever heard? It was like a spritzer of a sneeze, a fine mist of mucusy raindrops. If you closed your eyes, you might think it had been a spa treatment. I felt like a bunch of carrots at the grocery store, the ones they keep under those tiny sprinklers and spray every thirty minutes to keep them fresh.

This cold, by the way, is a particularly British cold. People think I’m crazy when I tell them that---“a British cold? Really, you can tell? Hey, you do know you’re only supposed to take two Dayquil at a time, right?”---but I swear it’s true. There is something about this cold that just makes me feel like I should be experiencing it in the damp grey gloom of a British February, with the rain throwing it down outside. Something sinusy, I think. I can’t explain it. It just feels British. (Oh, look how multicultural I am with my split identity! Even my illnesses can’t decide where they’re from. )

I'm over the worst of it now, pretty much, but there was a point a few days ago where I had lost both my sense of taste and my sense of smell. This resulted in a strange condition whereby food became simply a means to an end. I could tell I was hungry when my tummy rumbled. I could tell I was full when I shoved something into my mouth and it stopped. It was a very weird, anaesthetized sensation to be so far removed from the enjoyment of my food. I liked it much better when my sense of taste came back and I could actually appreciate that cookie putting a lifetime on my hips.

The cold, I'm sure, was also exacerbated by jetlag. On the flight back from London to San Francisco last week, I didn't sleep a wink. And I was upstairs on the plane, you guys. Upstairs on the plane! I had to climb stairs to get to my seat, which was actually really nice in theory (isolation! fanciness! a sense of superiority!) but maybe not so much in practice because it took ages to get off. Most of the people in my cabin, you see, were really old people. I'm not sure why they put the old people upstairs---or me with all the old people---but it took them forever when we landed to get off the plane. Also, all the old people constantly ordered cups of tea, which is the sort of thing you can do in Upper Class and when they dimmed the cabin lights at 6pm UK time, the old people all went straight to sleep.

I didn't go straight to sleep. I just lay there and lay there and lay there. In Upper Class, they'll make your seat into a bed for you---it involves a complex series of buttons that need to be pushed in order for everything to flip and whirr and buzz satisfactorily--and top it off with crisp white sheets and big puffy white duvet. I lay under that puffy white duvet and I lay there and lay there and lay there and lay there, and all the old people were asleep around me, and I just lay there, trying to get to sleep and having to blow my nose every roughly thirty-five seconds.

Finally, I decided to listen to one of the meditation podcasts that were on the airline's entertainment system, one called "Get to Sleep in 20 Minutes" which was all IF YOU AREN'T ASLEEP IN 20 MINUTES, WE'LL RUN NAKED THROUGH THE PLANE SINGING JUSTIN BIEBER SONGS, THAT'S HOW CONFIDENT WE ARE. The problem was, though, that I couldn't take it seriously. The narrator's voice was sloooow and sooooothing, and the second or third thing she said was "imagine you are navigating a canoe down river" (except it was more like "imaaaaagine you are naaaavigating a canoooooooooooe down a riiiiiiver") and when I heard that I was all "screw this, I would never navigate a canoe down a river" because seriously, I can't imagine anything more stressful. I know nothing about canoes! Why would I ever navigate one down a river? That's the least relaxing thing I can think of doing!  I'd just be panicking all the time about how I knew nothing about canoes! Do I have a life vest? A compass? Can I even read a compass? Why am I navigating this stupid canoe anyway? 

Needless to say, I was not asleep in 20 minutes.

Now that I'm home, though, I can't keep my eyes open past 10pm, and since it's now 10:42pm, I'm going to call this a night, close my eyes, and use that very technique to fall asleep. No rivers or canoes for me, though. Since we're doing happy places, I'm just going to be navigating myself down the aisles of the Alameda Flea Market. Where everything has just been marked down by fifty percent.

Jan Ross
May 13, 2011

I NEED a tissurse! I picked up a nasty cold in Vancouver and carried a big box of kleenex on the plane with me and all the way home. I still have one practically attached at the hip.

May 13, 2011

I hate to play the "I have a grosser story than you!" game, but I'm a teacher and a few weeks ago, a student sneezed IN MY MOUTH. I was helping his partner, turned to add a comment and the kid sneezed. I wanted to die. I might have shed a tear. But? NO COLD. When you become a teacher, you don't get paid much, but you DO develop and iron immune system.

Pretzel Thief
May 13, 2011

Aw, glad you're feeling better! Also, loving "a spritzer of a sneeze, a fine mist of mucusy raindrops." BRILLIANT.

And now I kind of feel like travelling somewhere (ANYWHERE) in upper class...sans a particularly British cold, of course. Or a cold, period. DUH.

May 13, 2011

poor thing! hope you feel better. naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaavigate a canooooooooe also cracked me up, btw.

May 13, 2011

Sorry you've been sick, and the transmission of your British cold was both really well-worded, and very gross. "Navigate" is stressful word, I think. Why not "floooooooat down a laaaaaazy riiiver" instead?

May 13, 2011

*The description of "the transmission of your cold." Dumb Friday-brain!

May 13, 2011

I don't know how you do it but I cannot get through one bleeping paragraph of the book I've been trying to read all week (given, it's about the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but still! I picked the book!) but you write 1000 words about the sniffles and I don't miss a beat. I'm enchanted. Have you ever considered writing about the Middle East? No? Huh, okay, then please keep doing this and I hope you feel better soon.

May 13, 2011

I mean this with my whole heart, can we please be best friends? I'll even carry your Tissuepurse!

Okay. That came out a wee bit creepy. Even so, best friends! You'll have a built in Tissuepurse carrier for life!

May 13, 2011

London misses you, sorry we sent you off with something to remember us by! Hope you feel better soon.

May 13, 2011

It made me laugh when you typed that you can't imagine anything more stressful than navigating a canoe. Haha! You took that scenario very literally and I love it.

May 13, 2011

I went to grade school with a kid who wore a box of kleenex on a cord AROUND HIS NECK. I'll bet you didn't think of that when you were exploring the range of kleenex-based fashion possibilities.

May 14, 2011

I would've been worried about falling OUT of the canoe. Do you know how tipsy those things are? Which would've then made me think of falling out of a plane, which would've then made me think of the fact I was IN a plane, which would've then ruined my whole flight.

Also, I can't believe I was just so entertained by a thousand words about the sniffles.

May 14, 2011

I thought the same thing about the canoe! Not relaxing in the least.

May 15, 2011

I am trying to scour my brain clean of the stories about sneezes that have been posted on and around this blog, because.... aaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee!

And here I was thinking it was bad to be driving behind someone and being able to smell their cigarette smoke in my truck... because that means that person's actual BREATH was in my truck. Because that means we go around with other people's nasty breath in our mouths ALL THE TIME.

Those Asian people with the funny white face masks don't seem so weird now - do they?

May 15, 2011

Oh, how I love the whole bit about the canoe. SO ME.

May 16, 2011

Navigating canoes shouldn't put you to sleep, unless you want to wake up either capsized on a large rock and floating underwater, or going over some large rapids! It's like those magazine articles that tell you to do something fun and relaxing for yourself, like learning a foreign languague.

May 20, 2011

Ew. Sorry, just adding my gross sneeze story: I was once taking a brief from a client - we were looking at the same piece of paper, laid on a table, side-by-side. He sneezed really noisily and (sorry) wetly all over the paper (there were splatter marks in the ink). He wiped it casually with his hand and carried on talking. Didn't even say sorry. I caught the cold a couple of days later.

(You're right, Holly, British colds are different! I've also noticed that when Americans in TV programmes talk about "the flu" it involves their stomachs too... weird. I'm not familiar with that kind of flu. "Flu" in my mind is similar to a really really bad cold, but with aching joints.)

Right, that's enough sharing for me! :)

Jun 09, 2011

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May 18, 2016

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