Everywhere I turn lately, I realize that many people around me are sick. I’m talking about the germ-laden kind. This is, in part, due to me.
I confess (insert guilty grin here), but I have an explanation.
I can say with confidence this time that it wasn’t me who started it. I’m relatively innocent. I caught it from someone else. In prior years at my office, I’ve been affectionately known as “the outbreak monkey.” The past couple of cold seasons though, I’ve been quite healthy, thwarting “bugs” with my good immune system.
This time around, however, it was a co-worker who came into the office looking miserable, sneezing and coughing. Can’t blame me for that. Then, a few days later, I became miserable, coughing and sneezing. Now, another co-worker who sits nearby is frequently blowing her nose and talking about her need of cold medicine. We’re all sharing our cough drops. My editor also recently began a sneezing spree. The sharing cycle continues, and as my colleagues are used to blaming me for these “outbreaks,” I confidently point to our other co-worker and throw him under the bus, using the words I learned in childhood, “He did it.” Then, the pecking begins.
My hairdresser even called me to reschedule my appointment, her stuffy congestion evident in her voice. Someone I interviewed recently was unable to recall something and then mentioned his antihistamine haze. I found myself commiserating with these people, but I promise, they didn’t catch their colds from me.
My sore throat started after Thanksgiving dinner. The days following resulted in me and the couch becoming attached at our cushions. A box of tissues - the kind with lotion, lip balm, throat spray, cough drops, plus some day and night time cold medicines came with me as I moved each day from the bedroom to the living room. It was as though my new perfume was menthol.
My husband, the caring man that he is, brought me tea and soup and left me to sleep and watch old movies on the television while he strung Christmas lights on the house. To thank him for his loving service, being the good wife that I am, I shared my cold with him.
Now, I’m taking care of him, but still not quite over my cold. He had a business meeting and one of his colleagues wisely gave him an elbow bump instead of shaking his hand.
The ill timing of being ill has completely changed some of our holiday plans. We were planning to have a Christmas party, which I’ve called off because our house is still sporting fall décor and no one wants to party with sick people. We’re supposed to go to another gathering with friends and I told my husband that if he wasn’t feeling up to it, we should cancel. In his fever-induced incoherence, he mumbled that he was ready to party.
We haven’t even started with gift shopping and the outlook on that isn’t so good with my husband and I not feeling up to it. The only thing we’ve been shopping for is cold remedies. Having used up the supplies we had in our medicine cabinet, he and I ventured out one evening to restock. As we piled the zinc lozenges, value-size bag of cough drops, and daytime cold pills on the check stand conveyor belt, the perky clerk smiled and asked how we were doing.
“Can’t you tell?” was my husband’s response.
I, too, thought it seemed kind of obvious.
Dawn M. Henley is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.