Hey, Aqualung.

Stages Of A Cold

Day 1, Morning: You wake up with a sore throat. It doesn’t seem bad, but it’s a harbinger of things to come. You gargle with some warm salt water and assume that the gagging that follows must be enough to dislodge any infection.

Day 1, Late Afternoon: The runny nose starts. This also doesn’t seem bad. The fluid is clear and a few good blows into a tissue seem to clear it out. By the time you walk out of the bathroom and down the hall your nose is running again and you decide you’d better just take a couple of tissues with you.

At this point you could take some cold medicine but why would you when you haven’t got a cold?

Day 2, Morning: You’ve got a cold. Your head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton, your voice is an octave lower, and you can’t pronounce glottal stops. You blow your nose into a tissue until it’s completely soaked through and starting to disintegrate. This takes approximately twenty-three seconds.

Day 2, Evening: You can’t remember whether the rule is “Starve a fever, feed a cold” or the other way around. Not that it matters because you’ve lost your appetite. The good news you still have your senses of taste and smell. The bad news is you don’t really want anything you can taste or smell.


Day 987: Actually it’s Day 3, Morning: It just feels like it’s been that long. You can’t tell if it’s the cold or the cold medicine that makes you feel like all you want to do is lie in bed and shiver.

Day 3, Late Morning: A scaly crust has formed on your upper lip. A quick search tells you the divot under your nose is called the “philtrum”. This is mildly interesting but you don’t see how you’ll ever use this information since at the moment you’re hot, sweaty, and leaking fluids and can’t imagine wanting to be near another human being ever again.

Day 3, Afternoon: All you want is just a few minutes of normal breathing, the kind you had in the distant, hazy past that was last week. And now the coughing has started. It’s just small coughs. You’re hopeful this is as bad as it will get. You’re also wrong.

Day 3, Late Afternoon: You remember seeing people put a towel over their heads and lean over a pot of steaming water. You decide to try this to see if it will work. The bad news is it doesn’t. The good news is you now know the fire extinguisher you’ve had in the kitchen for decades works. Next time will you take the pot of water off the hot stove before you hang your towel-draped head over it? Of course not. You’re never going to do this again.

Day 3, Evening: Still shivering uou take your temperature. It’s 68.9. Oh, wait, you have that upside down. It’s 98.6. Is the rule “Feed a cold”? Let’s just say it is. You heat three cans of condensed chicken soup. You’re halfway through slurping it straight out of the pan when you realize you didn’t add any water. While you’re finishing the rest you order a pizza. While you’re picking it up at your front door your six boxes of Chinese food arrive.


Day 4, Morning: The cold medicine you took last night is labeled as “working for up to eight hours”. At exactly seven hours and fifty-nine minutes terrible, hacking coughs cause you to fall out of bed. You stumble into the kitchen and blow your nose into a paper towel which now looks like someone hit it with a spoonful of crème brulee.

Day 4, Lunch: Your nose has become a gelatin factory. The less said about this the better. You’re cycling through hot beverages: cider, tea with honey, tea with lemon, tea with orange juice, tea with maple syrup, tea with yak butter.

Day 4, Evening: You’re tired but not so listless. You crawl into bed and almost immediately slip into a dreamless sleep.


Day 5, Morning: The cough persists but you can breathe deeply through your nose without any trouble. You think you just might recover.


Day 10, Evening: You’re out for Trivia Night with some friends. The host yells out, “What is that divot under your nose called?” You’re about to answer when a guy on the opposing team says, “Philtrum!” You avoid him. You don’t want to catch whatever he’s got.



Facebook Comments


  1. M.L. James

    Gonna take a risk and assume you’ve had a cold recently?! This sounds about right and if I weren’tworried about Karma I’d laugh because you nailed it! Except, I always lose my sense of taste and smell. Maybe that’s with a sinus infection, though. Hope you’re all better now. I’ll keep my eyes open for telltale signs of philtrum!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yeah, I had a cold recently and I’ve been trying to shake it ever since. I think I may have even picked up a second one which would be just the perfect reward for making fun of having a cold. I also read that sometimes when you get a cold the persistent cough can last up to eight weeks. Colds are the one downside of the cooler holiday weather.

  2. mydangblog

    Sounds exactly and miserably correct!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      You probably guessed I wrote this in the throes of a cold, trying to make some light of the situation, but then I ended up with a persistent cough that I still can’t quite shake. At least it’s diminishing steadily.


    The humor, the wit, and the observations are contagious, Chris.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      At least there’s an advantage in the distance between us: I can pass on only those things I want to share.


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