When I was a kid, I was never allowed to shirk school unless I was really sick. The definition of “really sick” was “not able to get out of bed”.
So, on the days when I decided I was too sick to go to school, I was obliged to stay in bed for the rest of the day. In those days I didn’t even have a TV in my room, let alone a games console. Staying in bed got rather boring rather quickly, and generally I decided I was well enough to go back to school the following day.
Of course, I was lucky enough not to be a sickly child. Apart from the usual childhood illnesses and the occasional bad cold, I didn’t really get sick.
This mindset has stayed with me into adulthood. I feel guilty about calling in to work sick. Generally, if I wake up feeling rotten, I will attempt to crawl into the shower anyway. If I’m feeling sort of OK after that, I’ll struggle into work. And then, I figure since I’m at work, I may as well stay there, since I got that far.
Generally I don’t have a lot of time off sick. Until the time I had bronchitis, three years ago, and was signed off work for nearly a month, I’d averaged maybe three days off sick a year.
However, times change. I’m no doctor, but I’m convinced the viruses are changing, too. Once upon a time you got a cold virus, you felt rotten for a couple of days and might be sniffly for a week, but unless you had flu you could generally go about your day. Not so anymore. I think as we develop these anti-bacterial agents that kill 99% of all germs, the 1% that survive evolve to become tougher.
I’ve just returned to work today after a virus that floored me for a week. It started as all viruses do – sore throat, sneezing, cough, stuffed up nose, foggy head. This kicked in the weekend before last, and I was off work on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I went into work, as I thought I felt a bit better. By the time I got there, it was evident I didn’t. I came home at lunch time, and ended up off sick the rest of the week. I spent my week wrapped up in a duvet on the sofa. Only the SyFy channel’s daily dose of “Buffy” and my significant “to be read” pile kept me sane. I couldn’t even spend the time at home writing – my head felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool and I couldn’t concentrate on anything.
Today I feel rather better so went back to work. I’m still coughing and blowing my nose constantly. However, I’ve spoken to quite a lot of people who’ve had this virus this winter, and it seems these symptoms hang on for rather a long time. Viruses spread quickly amongst commuters – no doubt it’s down to being packed in to tube carriages like sardines.
You’d think, in the 21st century, modern medicine advances would have developed a cure for the cold virus in all its mutations. But it seems not. You can waste a lot of money on cold remedies, but ultimately all that can be done with a virus is to rest and keep warm. And drink fluids.
Well, I did all that for a week, and I think maybe my antibodies are winning the war. But there’s still a few guerilla germs hanging on in there. I’m consuming Echinacea pills and vast quantities of Vitamin C in an attempt to beat off the stragglers. Begone, germs. Don’t you know when you’re not wanted?