Invaders at the Gates

It crept in at night, “on little cat feet” – the tickling whisker brush in my throat, the tingling clawing in my nose, the liquid gleam of my watery eyes. At first, I shrugged it off.

Allergies, I said.

Just need a good night’s sleep, I insisted.

But I had a flu shot, I whined.

Hah! I had caught the most miserable of all body invaders – the common cold. The one that rears up every season to wrack your body with dripping orifices, explosive exhalations of air, and above all the cough that starts at your toes and spasms upwards through every inch of your wretched being.

I don’t know where I got it. In preparation for the seasonal invasions, I shunned the grocery clerk who wiped a forearm across his nose; I avoided the cute little kids with smeary faces in the mall; I looked suspiciously at the mail carrier who shoved thousands of unwanted ads, handled by who knows how many infected fingers, into my mailbox.

Was it you? How about you? Maybe it was you…?

No matter. The Typhoid Marys are legion during flu season.

Despite sanitizing gel, pathological avoidance, and obsessive hand washing, I caught the cold like practically everyone else. As mentioned, it began with a scratchy throat and tiny pinpricks of discomfort at the back of my nose. My voice warbled in and out like a pubescent boy.

“Not a cold,” I tried to assure everyone. All my friends made the sign of the cross and backed away. Even my dogs crept into hiding when I sneezed like a crazed walrus all the way down the hall in a mad dash for tissues. They don’t understand nose drool, moans, and honking sounds.

Next morning I gave in. “I’m thick…” I announced to my daughter.

She scowled and stepped back. “Don’t give it to me.”

We both knew it was already too late. But I blazed the path. We stocked up on lemons, orange juice, honey, soup, vitamin C, antihistamines and lots and lots of gentle-on-your-skin tissues. I sat in my chair, huddled in a blanket, plodding bleary-eyed through a book that had enthralled me a couple of days before. I hopelessly watched old, old movies in an attempt to recapture the carefree joy of my healthy childhood. I stopped answering the phone because people selfishly wanted to talk about themselves, not the plague I was suffering under.

About the time my daughter turned feverish, I started getting better. The better where everything irritates you, you don’t want to sit, but every activity is stupid and you just don’t want to do it. I made her tea but only sloshed though half the dishes. Chicken soup out of a can is just as good…no it isn’t…as home made. But making it takes forever! And pizza doesn’t taste as good as it used to…

And surely some day the sneezes will stop, the fevers subside, and the coughs cease to erupt. Surely health and happiness will return to our existence.




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