Take Your Cold And Go Away

Take Your Cold And Go Away

As cold and flu season quickly approaches, I am keenly aware of it.

Why?

Because people don’t realize that their next cold or flu could be my next hospitalization.

Every year, I cringe when I am riding public transportation or am otherwise next to someone who is coughing and sneezing.

I don’t like to profile people, but if you are acting like you’re sick, I am going to try and stay away from you.

Some friends know me well enough to know that if they are sick, they will check with me first, and depending on what they have or how they are feeling or I’m feeling, we will reschedule our plans.

But obviously, not everyone is that conscientious. That diligence is the exception, not the rule.

And I’ve been known to give dirty looks to people that are sick, and either aren’t covering their mouth when they cough or their nose when they sneeze, or don’t seem otherwise concerned that they are exposing people to their yuck.

I’m not saying that people aren’t allowed to be sick. I’m just saying that I don’t want to be around them when they are.

For my sake.

And this comes from evidence. Maybe not scientific evidence, but evidence nonetheless.

Should I tell you how many times I’ve been on a bus, sitting by someone who is hacking up a lung, and two days later, I’m sick?

I don’t think I’ve talked myself into this. I think it really happens. I think my immune system is just that bad. If it’s not overactive, it’s underactive.

The disease makes it worse. The medications make it worse.

And that’s a frustrating thing. It’s just another area of life in which we have lost/been forced to give up control.

The other problem is that what might knock someone out for a day or two, knocks me out for more like a week. So not only do I get sicker when I’m acutely ill as opposed to a “normal” person, but I also get sicker for longer.

And this often hampers my plans.

It’s a reality that we have to face, and it’s important to take things seriously. If we don’t feel good or something seems off, we need to be vigilant about that.

We can’t always sit by and simply wait it out.

As my uncle, a doctor, used to say:

“Run around the block a few times and then you‘ll get pneumonia – that we can treat. But we can’t cure the common cold.”

I think that quote is appropriate because people hem and haw about having a cold.

I get it. You don’t feel good. And every time I get a cold or the flu, I reminded what it’s like to be acutely ill, and how that feels different than dealing with chronic illness.

But, on the other hand, I know that it wasn’t me or anyone else who caused my chronic illnesses.

However, nine times out of ten, when I become acutely ill, it’s because someone I came in contact with was sick, and was generous enough to share the wealth.

So I say, don’t be so generous. If you’re sick, try not to spread it.

What are your tips and tricks for staying as well as possible during cold and flu season? How do you protect yourself from those who are otherwise healthy when they are acutely ill?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (18)
  • Kathleen Pimlott
    4 years ago

    I am right there with you on this one. It makes me crazy because like so many of us with compromised immune systems, either because of disease or medications, when we do get sick, we get SICK! My grandchildren had a stomach bug, threw up once, done. I threw up for 6 days and ended up in the ER. So, I am very careful too. On Christmas Eve we went to a candlelight service. The minister had us greet the people around us by shaking hands. After I sat down, I “discreetly” took out my hand sanitizer and cleaned my hands. Later in the service he had us high five the people around us. Grrr….. More hand sanitizer. I didn’t want anyone to think I was commenting on how gross they were, but I don’t take chances if I can possibly avoid it. I always sanitize my cart handles if wipes are offered in a store.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    It’s important to protect yourself. IF you offend someone by sanitizing your hands, that’s really their problem.

  • Connie Rifenburg
    4 years ago

    This is so true for all of us. I feel like wearing a “Hello” badge that states, “I have an autoimmune disease, please be careful with your germs”. …or something to that effect…

    For those of you who have seen the commercial about the “first grade teacher who got tired of catching colds so she created Airborne”. Who knows if that’s true, but I will say – for me – it works. There is another one made by Herbalife that is like a fizzy. I take it as a preventative. I’m on a lot of meds (as many of us are) and I’ve never had an interaction with either of these products. My sister swears by Zicam. I think the thing that is common among them is Zinc.

    If I get a cold, I get pneumonia. Period. Two years ago, I had my first pneumonia ‘shot’. I had not gone 1 year in the past 10 without a hospital stay for pneumonia. Since I have had the shot, I have not had pneumonia for 2 yrs. I take Airborne or the Herbalife version whenever I am going to be around people. Like the wedding I’m going to this weekend. Starting on Thur or Fri, I will take one of those pills a day. On Sat, the day of the wedding, I will take 1 pill twice a day. I NEVER get on a plane without first taking airborne. Never. I lost my hearing once I had such a bad headcold and had to have tubes in my ears from a cold I caught (I feel sure) on my plane ride.

    I can’t say it will work for everyone. But you asked about what you could do when you’re around kids – especially, but any group of people… you can try these products and see if you get the same results. Flu Shot and Pneumonia (ever 5 yr) and I made it through the last 2 years without one stay in the hosp. YAH!!!

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    Connie, thanks for the tips. I haven’t tried Airborne since I have been diagnosed with lupus and RA, but the one time I took it, it made me sick.

  • Kathy P.
    4 years ago

    Cindy, I would say this is as good a time as any to start teaching the kids about hygiene. Tell them you have to be a lot more careful than most people not to get sick. Most kids, especially younger ones, want to help and be part of the adult world, so praise for a good job goes a long way. If you have to, make a game of it. If they do really well, they get some kind of special treat.

    We know little ones are germ factories. Plain soap and water is the most effective to prevent the spread of germs. Make it the first order of business when they come in to wash their hands. Have them wash their hands before eating and after toileting. This will cut down on a lot of transmissible germs.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    I think this is really good advice, Kathy! Thanks for sharing.

  • Cindy Cox
    4 years ago

    I just try to keep everything sanitary …stay away from sick people and rest , although I don’t get much of that ..my boyfriend who is younger has three children and last weekend their mom brought them home from her visitation …one of them sick and running a fever …now I would be open to ideas of how not to catch it when they live with us …she seems to always bring them home sick….I am petrified most times as I get very ill for a longer period of time than most people ….I really cannot afford to be down in bed sick…or in the hospital …

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    Could you wear a mask? I know they are scary looking and uncomfortable, but that would be my suggestion. I know that I plan to do that when I have kids and they are sick. It could also create a good teaching moment and conversation about your illnesses and help the kids get a better idea of what you have to deal with.

  • Kathy P.
    4 years ago

    I am a big believer in hand wipes. I wipe my hands after coming out of every store and before I touch my steering wheel. I keep some individual packets in my purse, and a container in my car. Lots of people don’t wash their hands after blowing their nose or going to the bathroom, let alone all the sneezing and coughing. I hate having to be so vigilant, but with the medications I’m on, I can’t afford to come down with anything. This is part of the new me, to take responsibility for taking care of myself.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    Kathy, I agree. It is annoying to have to be so vigilant, but it is necessary. As I said in the post, someone’s cold could be my next hospitalization, and that is a very big risk to take.

  • Kellie
    4 years ago

    Even pre-k and younger children are taught by teachers and by Elmo how to not share germs. Strange that adults can’t learn to also. Got my flu shot, going to keep my fingers crossed. Maybe I’ll turn into Mr. Monk and carry wipes everywhere!

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    Wipes, wipes, wipes.

  • Robyn Sanchez
    4 years ago

    I can relate but I am newly diagnosed and I just feel guilty mentioning it to family or friends. I know I need to get over that to be a good advocate for myself but not feeling like a whiner and not being perceived as a whiner is something I am struggling with. When I listen and read the stories here I don’t think “whiner” I think oh yes I can so relate. The truth is feeling sick and pain is my new normal…but really who wants to say or hear that? 🙁

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    It’s a difficult thing to do, but it is really important. Some people are more considerate than others and some just aren’t going to care, either way.

  • Robin
    4 years ago

    Oh,I so relate. Spending 5 days last spring in the hospital that went from a cold to pneumonia. So, after I shake hands or use a grocery cart or use a restroom door handle, out comes the hand sanitizer. I’m on hyper alert now for this season. Good health to all!

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    I totally get that. Sorry to hear that you ended up in the hospital as a result.

  • Kelly Mack moderator
    4 years ago

    Totally agree! Drives me crazy especially when people come to work sick. It’s like inviting me to catch it! And it always seems that I get sick worse and for longer than everyone with the same illness. Stay healthy! Best, Kelly

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    4 years ago

    Kelly, I’m the same way.

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