Sunday, 17 February 2013

Fanfare for the common cold

When we sneeze whilst driving at 70mph we will cover approximately 10 - 15 metres with our eyes shut. We will also propel a cloud of nasties into the air which will hang around plenty long enough to find another host to cling on to. And with the sneezes come the coughs, the thick head and the need to walk around with your mouth open looking like a complete retard because you can't breathe through your nose, which is either blocked solid or running like a tap. It's not pleasant and it's definitely not attractive.
But when you have a cold you're not really ill, are you? Sure you feel like crap, you can't function properly and you're highly contagious, but it's only a cold. It's not a proper illness like malaria or mad cow disease (or mad horse perhaps), and if you were to phone in sick simply because you had a cold you'd feel like a wimp because even the most severe case of man-flu is still just a cold wearing brass knuckles.
So you make the supreme effort to gather up your supplies of paracetamol and aloe vera Kleenex (in the vain hope of avoiding ending up with a nose like Rudolph), and you drag yourself to work piloting a 1.5 tonne projectile in a public place when you really shouldn't be in charge of anything more dangerous than a wooden spoon. Once you get to work of course, everyone tells you that perhaps you shouldn't really be there, but by then it's too late and the cold is making its merry way around the entire workplace.
The fun doesn't stop at work though. Oh no. There's dinner to look forward to when you get home which regardless of how fancy it is, even if it used the finest ingredients combined and cooked to perfection, will taste like an old car tyre because your taste buds are shot to bits.
Actually this is a misconception - what you're missing is the ability to smell because that's what makes up 90 percent of the taste experience with the tongue filling in the rest with the sweet/bitter/salt aspects. So there.
So with the tasteless meal out of the way you can look forward to staring at the TV for the rest of the evening because that's all you're fit for. So you sit on the sofa surrounded by the corpses of dead tissues, looking like an extra from Shaun Of The Dead, wondering if simply dying might be less aggravation than continuing trying to breathe and having to sleep on the sofa again.
When you finally emerge from the other side of the cold you begin to remember the pleasures you take for granted. Taste, smell, the ability to think clearly, your own bed, and a nose that's the same colour and texture as the rest of your face are all reminders of why we should stay at home when we have a cold, wrapped up warm with lots of chicken soup and watching all the Star Wars movies for the hundredth time just so you can see the bit with Princess Leia in the gold bikini again (or maybe that's just me).
The common cold really should have been cured by now. Scientists have made so many great advances in medicine with cures and vaccinations against all manner of ailments, and yet the cold still seems to elude them. The average age at death has gradually increased over time as more old people are kept going beyond what nature intended thanks to downing so much medication every day (in a box with carefully labelled compartments in case the Alzheimers gets worse) that they'd rattle like a maraca if you shook them. Whether this is right or wrong isn't something I'd want to get in to, but it begs the question - if they've been able to achieve this then how come we still don't have a cold vaccination? It's not as if they're short of test subjects now is it?