I’ve got a real stinker of a cold. Not one of those little sniffling, piffling ones that don’t really count. You know the ones when you dab delicately at your nose with a little tissue. No, I’ve got one of those full-blown, all-consuming, brain-fogging, head-clogging colds. You know the ones – one minute you feel fine and the next you are streaming and your head feels like it has been forced underwater and weighs three times its normal weight and you don’t so much need a tissue as some industrial strength suction device to release the pressure in your nose. Point of interest – a cold such as mine also goes by the moniker of “man flu” amongst a certain section of the population (incidentally the term “man flu” is also often applied by the particularly feeble amongst this population sub-section to the type of cold which only requires delicate dabbing of the nose with a tissue.)
My cold is the sort of cold which means people instinctively move away from you as you approach and surreptitiously (or not so in some cases) put their hand over their mouths or hitch up their scarves in a desperate attempt to avoid your germs. Mine is the sort of cold which should make it a criminal offence to visit any public place unless absolutely necessary (ie to do the school run). Worst offenders are those who “struggle in to work” – DON’T, NO-ONE WANTS TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR YOU, YOU SELFISH, GERM-RIDDEN PERSON.
I like to think of myself as altruistic and to this end, I have cancelled all my engagements over the last few days, saving the small part of the world that I can from my germs. I have had coffee this morning with a friend who is similarly afflicted but we have kept our distance to prevent cross-contamination – we can’t be sure we’ve got the same cold, can we?
True to form, yesterday, I visited my local health store and invested a small fortune in various vitamins, supplements and cold remedies. I only ever visit my local health store when something is wrong, never in a pre-emptive strike, and I get some sort of comfort in my cold-embattled state from buying something to help me deal with it – makes me feel sort of cosy. Clearly, this is acting once the horse has bolted and what I should be doing is taken all these mega, super, extra, uber vitamins as a preventative measure. No, not me – I shuffle in there, full of my vile cold, bursting with self-pity and spend a small fortune on stuff that I shall only take for the duration of my cold; that will, of course, not alter the duration of my cold; that will sit in my cupboard for the next 10 years but will not get a look in when I go out and buy yet more when the next cold strikes. In fact, one look in my cupboard suggests that I could indeed operate my own independent health store if there was a legal market for already opened but hardly used vitamins, supplements and cold remedies.
It’s got me thinking though about the common cold. How extraordinary that in an age when we travel in space, we can use vastly complicated technologies, we can isolate genes responsible for so many of the more complex and rare diseases that affect us, we can map the human genome itself…but we can’t do anything about the common cold. That’s all wrong. Imagine how many days of productivity are lost for the economy due to the common cold (by the way selfish, germ-ridden people who “struggle into work” that does not mean that you should use lost productivity as an excuse for your determination to infect all your co-workers)? Why in this age of such advances, have we got no further forward in treating the common cold than generations before us?
I would be the first to admit that in my current germ-infested state, my brain is not working at full capacity – in fact, it is currently somewhat foggy (fuggy?) in there – but it seems to me that there are two possibilities when it comes to the riddle of the common cold: either it really is the Gordian Knot of medical afflictions or there is some sort of “cold” conspiracy going on. Stay with me even if you think I am showing signs of paranoia and incapability of rational thought…
Imagine if a cure for the common cold had actually been found and colds (and man flu I might add) were things of the past? How wonderful, you are thinking, how fabulous that never again would I need to sniffle and snuffle or cough and splutter my way through large swathes of the winter. Well, it would suit you and me, of course, but imagine how many businesses depend on the common cold’s existence. The common cold is very big business indeed particularly for the large pharmaceutical companies – imagine your local health store/pharmacy without any common cold remedies, any vitamins, any supplements or any of the other cold paraphernalia they sell? Imagine if people like me didn’t shell out for every new remedy on the market in desperation to feel slightly more human again? Forget butter mountains, imagine the mountain range we could produce if we all cleared out the half-used cold remedies, supplements and vitamins that reside in the dark recesses of our cupboards? With this in mind, perhaps that cure has been found; perhaps it was actually discovered years ago…in fact, it is right under our noses (excuse the pun) but we are being kept in the dark…
Perhaps my cold is making me paranoid and perhaps I’m just annoyed at myself for yet again falling for the “cold” comfort visit to the health shop. Whatever the truth, everyone likes a good conspiracy theory, don’t they?