If you're living a life of average health and average activity, colds are pretty easy to figure out. Their intrusion into your life usually goes something like this: Three days coming on. Three days with you. And three days of heading for the exit door. That's what I've always told my family, and it's pretty much held to be true.
Unless, of course, you catch it early enough.
Early intervention is, I am convinced, the easiest way to shave a week or more off that old adage. I have found that if I really take good care of myself at the first sign of symptoms, I can lose or reduce symptoms drastically, about 90 percent of the time.
But we Americans are a "get up and go" bunch, so getting people to "sit down and stay" is damn near impossible a lot of the time. But when you consider the lost wages, money spent on sick pay, plus the inevitable trips to the doctors for antibiotics once the creeping crud settles into your lungs or sinuses and causes infection, staying home for one day at the start of an illness is a pretty fiscally sound idea.
So yesterday I woke up feeling puny, and decided everything would have to go on hold for 24 hours. I spent the morning on the sofa watching TV, ate some chicken soup for lunch, and took a two-hour nap in the afternoon. That's usually my best indicator, for me, that I'm really sick -- napping. In general I have an extremely hard time sitting on the sofa for a couple of hours, much less falling asleep in the daytime. But yesterday it felt so good to do just that. In between naps and rests I sterilized my toothbrush by putting it in near-boiling water for 10 minutes, used echinacea drops every couple of hours, and stayed under the blankets to keep warm.
People always say that prevention is the best cure, but true prevention not always possible if you have children at home, deal with the general public at your job, or just have regular contact with people. But the one thing that is possible is catching symptoms early on and allowing your body to do what it does best, which is heal.
That crushing fatigue is your body's way of slowing you down so it can better mount a defense against an unfamiliar virus. Your fever is another defense, as few viruses can survive in a body warmer than 98.6. Our bodies have a huge store of biological wisdom stored inside our cells, from millions of years of evolution. Even your doctor can't claim that kind of healing knowledge.
So the next time you feel like you're coming down with something, listen to your body's wisdom and do what it's telling you. Sit down and stay. It's hard for us to do, but ultimately will put us back in the game much faster than if we try and hobble (and sneeze and cough) our way along, infecting others as we go and prolonging our own misery.
From the Land of the Living, I salute all you fighting the Creeping Crud or Mystery Sniffles today.