Because real life tends to get in the way sometimes, Karen‘s bad head cold has inspired this Weekend Assignment:
Extra Credit: Are you getting a flu shot this year?
It seems to me that I got sick more when I was younger. I remember missing school for a week at a time a few times a year, but rarely for anything extremely serious – just a combination of symptoms that made staying home a lot more comfortable. The worst illness I can recall during high school, which probably was some form of the flu – I remember fainting a couple of times, and serious intestinal distress a few days later – hit during Christmas break. It’s still true, even once your school years are over: being sick during vacation time is the worst. While my ex-husband was in grad school, we both were hit with a bad case of the seasonal flu one year. Then there was the time our friends came to visit for Commencement weekend and brought a miserable stomach virus with them, but we lucked out in a way with that one – it was somehow adult-specific. Neither their son (14 months old) or ours (almost 5 at the time) caught it, so we weren’t trying to care for miserable children in our own weakened conditions.
At this point, I rarely take more than two or three sick days off from work a year – as a result, I have about six weeks of sick time accrued, which will be good if something major actually does happen to my health. This is partly because I really don’t seem to get sick very often any more. I have sniffles and sneezes pretty often, but that could also be due to minor allergies. I get headaches when I’m overtired or there’s a change in the weather looming; I have sinuses that seem to sense impending pressure changes or something. I may catch colds a few times a year, but they’re usually minor – and yes, I am one of those annoying people who takes a cold to work with them. I’ll only stay home if I truly don’t feel up to working; otherwise, I’ll get myself through the day and then crash early when I get home in the evening.
I think that when I was younger, part of the appeal of staying home sick was having someone taking care of me – that’s less likely as we grow up, but in the last few years, I’ve grown more and more inclined to “tough it out” when I get a relatively minor illness. Becoming a parent myself probably influenced that, although I was tremendously lucky in having a child who was rarely ill himself. Living on my own after my divorce probably steered me that way even more, though, since I had to take care of myself, the dog, the house, and whatever else came up, no matter how I was feeling at the time. I still tend to think that way, even though I’m not by myself any more.
When I’m getting a cold, I usually know it first by a sore throat and an itchy feeling on the roof of my mouth, and then I start self-medicating. My preferred treatments are Ricola cough drops (honey lemon or green tea, both with echinacea), chicken-noodle soup, and Zicam. (The nasal-spray version of Zicam has been identified as potentially harmful to the sense of smell, but I’ve used it for years, and as the person who usually picks up after the dog, I can confirm that my sense of smell works quite well.) If I’m feeling particularly worn out or weak, I may stay home for a day, but otherwise I tend to just keep going.
I don’t usually get flu shots. I got one a couple of years ago because I had a regular checkup scheduled during flu season and my doctor’s office offered me the shot while I was there; if that happens again this year, I’ll probably take them up on it, but otherwise I probably won’t bother with it. My husband and stepchildren have already gotten theirs, though (the kids got the seasonal-flu shot; they may be going back for H1N1).
Has “cold and flu season” started up for you and your family? Will you stay home and convalesce, or tough it out?