Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The demoralizing reality of the common cold...

As hard as I tried to avoid it, I fell prey to a devilish cold that's been plaguing my loved ones and colleagues. All the hand washing in the world could not keep this little bastard away from nestling itself happily in the back of my now dry, scratchy, swollen throat. The worst thing about having a cold is the psychological havoc it wreaks. It completely breaks a man down, from the inside. Normally well-adjusted adults transform into whimpering lumps, mimicking their former child selves. I am easily the worst sick person. I lie on the couch and proclaim, "I'm sick!" repeatedly in what sounds like the voice of a 4 year old due to my congestion and defeated spirit. This must drive my husband crazy. He made me chicken soup. He's a saint.

Perhaps it's the lack of energy, the dependence on others, or the fact that you look like complete crap, no bones about it, having a cold is simply depressing. Ironically, clinical depression has been shown to weaken the immune system and lead to an increased vulnerability to getting colds. Well, what the hell is a person to do? Benjamin Franklin, 18th century smarty pants, documented his personal research on the common cold and concluded: "People often catch cold from one another when shut up together in small close rooms, coaches, etc. and when sitting near and conversing so as to breathe in each other's transpiration." Ew. His solution? Well, he suggested exercise, bathing, and moderation in food and drink consumption to avoid the common cold. But what about a cure? We've put men on the moon, cloned animals, and now we have both a black man and a women fighting for the oval office. Isn't it time we find a cure for the common cold??

This may seem like a petty and tired request, but colds are a great cost to the country. This poster from World War II highlights the cost of a cold back then:

As you may very well know, things have gotten mighty pricey since then. According to Wikipedia, my favorite website ever, the total economic cost of cold-related work loss exceeds $20 billion. Yes, you read that right...billion. You would think that the big pharmaceutical companies would be chomping at the bit to find a solution...it would be an absolute gold mine! It seems that a few companies are working on it but there doesn't appear to be much of a fire under their rears to get this going fast.

The next time you're laid up with a nasty bout of viral nasopharyngitis, you might think that research efforts towards a cure might not be too shabby. Perhaps this is just a manifestation of my cold-related regression to a time when I thought my mom could do anything...including curing the common cold. I think more research should be done on the therapeutic effects of chicken cutlets and ThunderCats. Ah, ah, ah, chooo!

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