I had this great idea for a post, but then I got a cold.



Not just any cold, but a lay-you-flat-on-your-back, aches-and-chills cold. It was the sort of cold that hits hard, lasts for three or four days, and leaves you with unpleasant memories of sinus bleeds and unimaginable mucus production.

From the time I was a little kid, I've never been able to get sick like normal people. Instead of just strep throat, I end up with scarlet fever (senior year in college). Instead of a stomach virus, I get something nasty that makes the doctor wince (age 14). And instead of a nice, boring, take-some-Dayquil-cold, I ended up with the same thing that flattened two of my coworkers and made me want to die.

This morning, though, I felt better. Not good enough to work out with Attila, but good enough to work out. And that got me thinking about what's good to do when you have allergies, or your tummy is tempermental, or you have The Cold From Hell.

Please bear in mind that, although I am a medical professional, I am not the person you should be listening to on life-or-death matters. If you have chest congestion, body aches, fever, or weeping sores, please stay in bed. If you're not in that category, and the cart with the guys yelling "Bring Out Yer Dead!" hasn't stopped by your house in a while, keep reading.

Things to do when you have a cold:

1. Walk.

This is one of the few times that I would recommend dressing for the weather and getting outside at midday, when it's warmest (in winter) or early in the morning, when it's coolest (in summer). A nice, gentle walk of a mile or so will do wonders for your mood, your circulation, and will loosen up all that junk that's been sitting in your head for two days.

2. Drink.

No, seriously. The whole point of cold medications is to make you more comfortable. Unfortunately, the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicine hasn't been shown to be any more effective than a placebo, and it can have nasty side effects. Plus, the usual cold medicine contains stuff that can raise your blood pressure, damage your liver, and make you hallucinate. I'm a big fan of the old-fashioned hot toddy: One part cheap-ass whiskey to one part honey and a dash of lemon juice, all mixed up in very hot water. Take that with your Sudafed and ibuprofen and you'll sleep all night.

Just please don't mix acetaminophen with alcohol, as I don't want to see you in my CCU.

3. Yoga.

No sh*t: Yoga, while challenging at times, can sort of realign your whizznits and make your zoombahs work better. At least, that's what I found during this latest bout of Snotball Express. Downward Dog isn't the best position to hold for more than ten seconds at a time, but yoga in general will make you feel *so* much better.

4. Hot water bottles.

Can't live without mine. It's better than a cat for warming your feet and getting rid of that "I want my Mommy" feeling. Buy one from the drugstore, wrap it in a pillowcase after you fill it with nearly-boiling water, and stick it at the end of your bed. Your tootsies will thank you. Note that this is also a useful device to have around when you lift too much or strain a shoulder muscle.

5. Good nutrition.

There are times when any calorie is a good calorie, and times when every calorie should count. Having a cold or sinus infection is one of the latter times. I suggest low-sodium chicken broth, spiced up with garlic and poblano peppers, lots of good-quality fruit, and a multivitamin. When you can't smell anything, you're less likely to eat, so getting all your daily allowances of vitamins is doubly important. Lemon or orange juice in water soothes a sore throat and cuts the crud, and hot chocolate--in addition to being tasty--can give you needed calcium. I'm partial to acidic fruit like pinapple, kiwi, and oranges, and full-fat dairy in small amounts. Most people can go for days without consuming protein and have no ill effects, but vitamin C and zinc are essential to good immune function. I myself take a zinc supplement, but there's no clinical evidence that it helps with colds: I'm banking on the 30% cure rate of the placebo effect.

Now that I'm feeling better, I'll start working out like a demon again. Attila has promised new tortures for me this week; you'll hear about them for sure. Meanwhile, I'm going to celebrate being able to breathe through my nose and not having to sleep upright.

(It wasn't so much the stuffy nose that bothered me as the sleeping upright in a chair. And it wasn't so much the sleeping sitting up that bothered me as it was the fact that one of the cats took it upon himself to curl up atop my head while I slept. And it really wasn't so much the cat on my head as the fact that he snores something awful.)

Wash your hands and eat your greens, People. And when it happens that you feel okay-but-not-great, do something gentle for yourself. Then have a hot toddy and park yourself in a nice comfy chair. I'll send the cat.

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