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I Had a Cold

 

A couple of weeks ago, Mom came home from a day out in the city with a cold. It was brutal. The canine nurses and I worked around the clock to help her out of the sea of snot, and listened to an enormous amount of grumbling and whining (which is only fair, since Mom listens to a lot of grumbling from all of us on a daily basis). Of course, after Mom recovered, the cold passed on to me. I’d been dealing with allergies for weeks by then, so it took a while for me to recognize when it switched over, but when I found myself desperately searching for a new tissue box at four AM, I got the message.

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“Why are we awake?”

There’s something about a cold that, even as it wipes me out and makes me feel like I’m drowning and suffocating and clearly the most afflicted person on earth, I also feel like, but, it’s only a cold! I should still be getting stuff done!

This delusion could have something to do with years of hearing my brother say that it wasn’t fair that I got colds so often, and therefore got to stay home from school. One time he got Chicken Pox over winter break, and missed no school at all, and then, of course, little sister got sick the day we were supposed to go back to school. I heard a lot about how lazy I was, and how unfair it was that I got extra time with Mommy, and so many bowls of matzo ball soup.

So, deep into the cold, I started to obsess about what I should do if I finally get a job and then get a cold. Should I go to work anyway? At one of my internships we were told to never come in when we were sick; at the other internship, people came in to work with every imaginable germ and shared generously, on the assumption that it was more responsible to come in than to cancel appointments.

My brain went on and on, telling me how lazy I was for not running a marathon in the middle of the night, since I was up anyway, and created endless scenes of how one or another illness would get me fired from my imaginary job, and I would never be able to support myself, and I would suffer and struggle and fail for the rest of my days.

So, it was a few long, sleepless nights.

And then, as I started to recover from the cold, I found out that my friend’s son had pneumonia. It’s really hard to nurse a good case of self-pity for a cold when a little boy across the country has to deal with pneumonia. Though I still made the effort.

Now that I’m feeling better, I’ve been watching the dogs, in case either of them starts to have a drippy nose, or bad cough. I don’t even know if dogs can catch colds from humans. I’ve seen them eat tissues, but never sneeze into them.

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“What? It’s fiber.”

I’m not sure the dogs even noticed that I was sick, to be honest. It’s not like I’m a bundle of energy the rest of the time, and I still took them for walks (loading my pockets with tissues and sucking candies first, of course), and shared my food (I mean, it was chicken soup, how could I not share it?). They spent a lot of their time napping next to me and staring at me when I blew my nose (possibly because it woke them up). And they looked longingly at my Dayquil and Nyquil capsules, certain they were some new form of candy.

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“Candy?”

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“Chicken?”

I don’t know of any way to avoid getting colds if you spend time around other humans, so I’m going to have to accept that getting sick will be a regular obstacle in my working life, and I will have to come to grips with the fallout, whatever it may be. I think the deeper fear the cold set off is that I will spend the majority of my working life dealing with the same disabling health issues I’ve dealt with during school and all of my writing-at-home years. And it will suck.

My next priority will be to learn how to not catastrophize at the smallest bump in the road, but the dogs are no help. They believe that the world is ending each time their people leave the house for five minutes; just imagine the horror when they find out I plan to go to work? For hours at a time!!!!

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“What?!!!!!!”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish girl on Long Island named Izzy. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes is true. Izzy’s father decides to send her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

83 responses »

  1. I suspect colds are inevitable, at least once a year, but some precautions are sensible: always get a flu shot and always wash your hands (with soap) as soon as you come in from anywhere public (if not before). While in public, avoid touching your face with your hands (or only the backs of your hands, at least). Being a recluse helps a lot!

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  2. I’m glad you’re feeling better!

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  3. Oh, dear. Clearly the girls did not know about a J-O-B. And bless you when you sneeze!

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  4. Nyquil and dayquil are wonderful things. What is even better is Thieves Essential Oil. Young Living brand is excellent. Sniff it anytime you are exposed to someone sick or are starting to feel puny. It kills all the germs (and smells great). You can even put a drop inside the neck of your shirt. It works wonderfully for me.

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  5. I’m glad you are better! I hope you are, anyway

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  6. Good to know you are feeling better now.

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  7. Those little faces are so expressive!

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  8. There are times when they can’t really be avoided. Get well soon Rachel.

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  9. I believe you have made the best choice by being a recluse. Our daughter gets frequent upper respiratory infections. She says it’s chronic Bronchitis that is the problem. She is very Godly and is training to become a Pastor. I tell her it is all that hugging and handshaking that is the problem. All churches should hand out surgical gowns, latex gloves and surgical masks to their congregations as they enter, especially during Flu season. I stopped going to church during the winter. I always get a Flu shot each fall. When they ask me where I have been, I say to Florida. They have begun to believe that we are wealthy. I won’t tell them any different.

    I will say and testify to the fact that it has been a few years since I’ve had a bad cold and certainly not the Flu. So, I will keep on keeping on with what works until it stops working. I’m a big believer … a believer in “If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it.”

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  10. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Your pups are so adorable, they will take good care of you. I’m always so happy to be at home with my cats or to arrive home to them after being away all day or a few days. There will always be fears and at the same time, beautiful things around to give us happiness.

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  11. Glad you’re feeling better. Whenever I get a cold, it saps all my energy and I can’t do anything except blow my nose and sleep a lot. But I haven’t gotten a cold in what seems like years. My secret? Vitamins and aging!

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  12. I hope you make a complete recovery soon. Head colds are awful. That feeling of congestion and the constant tiredness.

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  13. You were misdiagnosed. You actually had the Lone Gisland Flu. Not so serious.

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  14. Glad you’re feeling better. Nothing worse then a summer cold 😕 at times I feel summer colds are actually worse and harder to get rid of..

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  15. My dog definitely knows when I’m sick and is sweet about it. I swear they are better souls than we are . . . all that unconditional love!

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  16. Glad you’ve recovered and have now received so much great advice on how to avoid picking up more germs.

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  17. I find that small children are the ones to avoid the most. Every time I see our grandson, he seems to have a cough or cold, and you can be sure that one of us will get it when he has left. I call him ‘Infecto-Boy’, and have even threatened to get him a t-shirt with that name on it. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    • There was a long swath of time when every time I visited my brother’s house there was snot on the face of at least one of the kids. And those little boogers don’t believe in tissues.

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  18. Hand sanitizer lotion is my friend.

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  19. Be gentle with yourself as you fully recover.

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  20. Hope you are feeling better and know you will!

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  21. “Sea of Snot.” Good phrase. I like it. There could be a Netflix show with that title. Or a poem but probably not a romantic sonnet.

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  22. I long to come over to your house and turn off that dreadful tape recorder in your brain that keeps berating you. I hope you are on the mend and that at some point you can accept that we all get sick and feel rotten at some time or another and not start that condemnation tape running. I have managed to chuck some of my old tapes and life is easier. Of course I still play plenty of them.

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  23. lots and lots of vitamins, and a little shot of brandy every now and again. 🙂
    Also, did you ever think of turning that conversation in your head into something you could use in a novel?

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  24. Aww, colds can be awful, rather than ‘just a sniffle’ a cold or a flu can totally wipe you out. I get the guilt tripping a lot because of being poorly in general, so when you said about your brain telling you how lazy you were I could empathise. We’d never think that of anyone else, and we’d never talk to others the way we do ourselves, so we really can be our own worst enemy when what’s needed is just rest! I’m glad you’re doing a bit better now 🙂 How’s your friend’s son doing, the one who had pneumonia? Hope he’s okay too.. poor boy.
    Caz xx

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  25. Hope you kick the cold completely into touch soon Rachel. Hubby and I hated having them, as it boomerangs, usually with him getting it twice.

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  26. I managed to come down with a cold a few weeks before my knee surgery. NOT GOOD. Two weeks before the surgery, I went to urgent care to get some meds to help clear it up. Just managed to get the infection cleared up a few days before my surgery. I didn’t want to reschedule the surgery.

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  27. Looks like you are in good hands (or paws).

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  28. the senior weaver

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better. Hugs to Cricket and Ellie.😊

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  29. Dogs can’t catch colds from humans. Common colds just don’t jump the species barrier for some reason!

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  30. My favorite memorable moments from this post: those wonderful photos and the matzo ball soup. Feel better, Rachel.

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  31. Little tardy, Rachel, but hope you are feeling better.. you have the cutest canine nurses🐕🐕💚

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  32. I believe that one reason colds last so long is that people don’t do what their bodies are demanding they do and that is rest. And I also believe that one reason so many people get colds is that when they have one they don’t stay home and not share it with everyone. Our societies warped attitude that you can’t stop even when you are sick is part of the problem.

    I am glad you are feeling better.

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  33. I don’t often catch colds but when I do I hate it with a passion. At the moment Australia is in the grip of a bad flu season with thousands of cases reported – many people hospitalized. I have never had the flu injection and I have managed to stay clear- as has Annabell. We are about one third of the way through what is called flu season here – basically most of the winter. Anyway, stay healthy – the dogs will look after you and make sure you are good.

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  34. I’m so sorry you had this debilitating cold. I hope you’re over it sooner – not later – and can go back to feeling energetic (not necessarily a ball of energy … Just your normal self-will do!). Yes, I fo belief our furry friends sympathize and know when we’re sick. And by the way, I love this word: catastrophes. Gotta remember that one!

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  35. I never went to work sick. But, I did suffer guilt from staying in bed. Then again, I hated my job. So bed was always better. When I don’t feel well, I always take it easy. Now, others may be different, but I am what I am and that’s just how one has to be. I never push myself when I don’t feel well. It’s not how I am. So, my vote goes for bed when sick.

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  36. Great story. When I worked I was in the medical field and caught colds a lot. Now that I’m retired I’m much healthier.

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  37. I am glad you are feeling better. I had 20 migraines in June and that was truly horrible. I try to make art when I can see right and am not in chronic pain. They aren’t contagious but there is a genetic component. I didn’t mean to write about my migraines but rather to thank you for liking Whisper and Deep Sleep on my website.

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