The woes of the common cold

Heather Stewart

Faculty: Science and Engineering
School: Vision and Hearing Sciences
Course: BOptom (Hons) Optometry
Category: Vision and hearing sciences

20 February 2015

Calamity of all calamities, oh the horror, oh woe. I caught a cold, and on a Friday too – perhaps the worst day of lectures. I think internally moaning to myself about how much I didn’t want to be sat in that last late lecture may be the only thing that got me through it. Thankfully there wasn’t much maths involved, that’s a brave new world at the best of times, never mind when you’re seriously considering trepanning as a solution to your headache. I slithered off home to hibernate with a bowl of porridge and a DVD, cursing the winter chill.

The next day, all hell broke loose, or should I say, all the mucus-producing goblet cells in my respiratory system broke loose. I was too hot with cardy on, frozen with cardy off, too hot in my incubator of a room, frozen in the kitchen where we keep the windows open at all times, and the less said about trying to revise for exams the better. I like to cook nice things on the weekends as I usually can’t be bothered during the week, but what was the point when you couldn’t taste it? I wept. Not literally, metaphorically, for the uncooked food possibilities you see. Anyway, I Skyped my family, and finding little pity there (it’s already much colder where they are), I took to whinging on Facebook. By the next morning I was seriously running out of hankies and felt like painting a big red cross on my bedroom door – abandon hope all ye who enter here – but it was most likely one of my flatmates that infected me and it’s already doing the rounds there anyway so there wouldn’t have been much point.

Instead, I decided to ‘man-up’, as the saying goes, and I went out for a jog. Ostensibly to blow away the cobwebs and clear out the nasal passages, but also to spread my germs freely among the good people of Cambridge. I managed my usual route, several tissues lighter and melting in every possible way by the time I got home. I felt like that guy off X-Men that turns into a big blob of water and bursts. I even resorted to putting deep-freeze gel on my face to relieve the tension headache I had, I don’t think it really helped.

Monday rolled round, with the hope that day three is supposed to be the last day of a cold, after which they dry up and you go on with your life. It also seemed like as good a day as any to do our Human Anatomy exam, and thanks to mastering our VM Ware software, I could even do it at home. I cracked out the digestives (nice and wholesome), coffeed up (though coffee tastes rank when you have a cold for some reason) and settled in. Four hours, several biscuits, and one tense time-out later (where I nipped out for a bit and the software timed me out so I thought I’d lost all my work, but after restarting the laptop found it was still there, phew) I finally finished. Had my cold gone? Had sheer brainpower defeated that all-powerful virus? Was I free to gambol about town without feeling the need to pluck my face off, rinse it out and shove it back on again? Nope. I evidently wasn’t hibernating properly, though fortunately I’ve been here long enough to be able to drift off without too much effort, the mattress topper helps too.

So my advice to you is, don’t get a cold. Especially if you haven’t had one in years and have forgotten how to handle it, like me. Just don’t do it. Say no to the little viral beasties, Say no, I can’t hang out with you, I have exams and I like my face the way it is, and I like to be able to taste food, so try next door.



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