Giving Your Loved One a Cold is a Gift You Wish You Could Take Back

Oh man, now I really feel bad. My husband had to stay home from work today...sick. He’s finally caught whatever crummy bug I’ve been dealing with over the past several weeks. He’s miserable. Now it’s my turn to help take care of him.

The past month has been a bad one for being sick. First, I developed some type of infection with a fever that caused me to become a sweaty, achy mess with lymph nodes that had doubled in size. Since my body temperature normally stays in the 96-97 degree range, it was quite uncomfortable when my fever approached 100 F. But my body seemed to do what it’s supposed to do and took care of the problem. I was sick for less than a week and never did identify the source of the infection. No GI problems, no congestion. Just a high fever.

About a week later I developed an earache. Not too bad of an earache, but definitely present. On day three of the mild earache, my throat started burning and I could hardly swallow. I finally called the doctor and tested negative for strep throat. Her diagnosis: a cold. Congestion began that evening.

Now it’s been two weeks since I saw the doctor and I’m still not over this cold virus. I’ve been coughing, dripping, congesting, sneezing, aching, sleeping, humidifying, chicken-souping, and tissuing my way through the days and nights.

I finally started to feel a little better over the weekend, just in time for my husband to start feeling like he was getting sick. Uh oh. His is a dry cough while I’m still congested. He’s sticking with chicken soup and clementines, while I felt good enough to bake cookies yesterday and do laundry.

I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do. I think that I caught my cold when we went out shopping before Christmas. Since I work from home, I don’t go out - in public - all that often actually. When I do go out to crowded places such as the mall, I risk picking up a virus. Drugs I use for RA (methotrexate and rituximab) lower the immune system and make one more susceptible to infection.

In general, though, I don’t develop infections all that often. I make it a point to stay away from people who are sick, including children with snotty noses, and wash my hands regularly when I’m out and about. I have a few important music studio rules as well: students must always wash their hands before touching the piano keys and if they are sick, they must cancel their lessons until they are no longer contagious.

There is, however, one thing that I normally do when I start to feel something coming on that I didn’t do this time. I didn’t take mega doses of vitamin D as soon as my throat started to hurt. I had started doing this years ago because of something I had read online about mild antiviral properties of vitamin D, and it has often seemed to help reduce the severity of any viruses I encounter.

But earlier in the fall, my blood levels of vitamin D tested way high so we lowered my daily dose to try to get them back into a normal range. Because of this, I chose not to take extra vitamin D to fight back against a possible cold-in-the-making this time around; maybe I should have. But coincidentally I went in this morning to have my blood drawn to be retested (to see if my reduced dose has had the desired effect) and to check routine blood counts and chemistry.

I think that I’ll take a megadose of vitamin D tonight to try to knock this cold on its butt. I think that I’ll make Rob take some extra vitamin D as well. Although he’s been loading up on vitamin C, it couldn’t hurt. And if it helps, then maybe I’ve done a little something special as his caregiver. It’s only fair that I can return some of the favors he’s done for me over the years. I just hope that he feels better soon.

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