Coughing, sneezing and sniffling greet us in the new year

Serious illness doesn’t bother me for long because I am too inhospitable a host.

– Albert Schweitzer

 

You know it. I know it.

Those listening in church this morning know it from the coughing cacophony around them.

The cooties are here. Season‘s greetings.

Sniffling, hacking, throat-clearing, post-nasal dripping January has arrived in all its miserable splendor.

You can’t spell mucous without “U.”

Last week I went to work each morning wondering whether this would be the day some airborne germ bomb leaped from a co-worker’s room-clearing sneeze into my vicinity, breaching the defenses and setting up shop in my sinuses.

My concern is valid.

I am surrounded by wheezers who should have stayed home, proving yet again that misery not only loves company, but craves it.

“I could die in my bed,” one explained between sniffles, “and nobody would find me.”

I smile (perhaps too broadly) at the thought, and reach for the alcohol-laced hand sanitizer that now seems to serve as my personal cologne.

“Thanks for sharing,” I say, rubbing my hands with (and I quote) acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, benzophenone-4, much like a miser mulling his money.

OK, I know it’s bad this year. According to the CDC report a few weeks ago, the flu season started strong and by mid-December, eight states had reported widespread activity. This is the earliest regular flu season since 2003-04, and less than half the population had been vaccinated before Christmas.

I feel for them. I’ve had the flu before, and it wasn’t fun.

I know people who’ve had it more recently – the “real flu,” not the I-just-didn’t-want-to-come-to-work flu. And I’m sorry.

But I don’t want it to happen to me or to those for whom I’m responsible.

My son headed back to college the other day, and I sent him with a “Cold Kit” – a collection of appropriate over-the-counter purchases that might not prevent him from getting sick far away from home but might make it more bearable.

This was a challenge because one shelf at the store where I usually find the cough medicine his doctor recommends was empty, cleared out by an earlier cast of Les Miserables.

I’m not discouraged, however, because experience has taught me one thing about warding off winter’s worries: No cure works forever. Time after time I have found success in a drug store darling, only to have it fail to do the job the next time.

“Some people build up a resistance to disease,” my wife explained. ”You build up a resistance to cures.”

Yes, apparently I make medicine sick.

But that’s better than the other way around.

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