Boot camp for aspiring cold-killers
Dear Sara, how can I avoid getting sick over the winter?
Well, reader, the first and hardest part is acknowledging that you have a problem. In this case, your problem is other people and how much of a threat they pose. Fortunately, I have a knack for repelling people, so get ready for some insider tips on how to avoid them like the plague.
Before I spill all my secrets, though, let me tell you a story. Earlier this term, I was going about my regular life when I started to realize that something was out of place. People were less enthused than normal. They stayed in more frequently. Classes emptied out, and not just because it was midterm cramming season. Everywhere I looked, people were dropping like bowling pins. My roommates kept to their beds and only came out of their bedrooms to eat. My neighbours were sniffly, their eyes duller than normal. I was a pretty unhealthy kid when I was younger (I used to have an average of five attacks of acute bronchitis every winter), so I knew what this was right away. The common cold had struck again.
Of course, I eventually succumbed to the infection. After both my roommates and neighbours got it, I had no chance. I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in residence, reader, but it’s not so much a “mi casa es su casa” situation as it is “mi virus es su virus.” When I did get sick, it came down hard. My nose became inflamed, and then encrusted in a dry shell of cracked skin. I could almost feel the skin split open when I tried to flare my nostrils. My sinuses were clogged, but breathing through my mouth hurt because my throat was swollen, so I had to do this noisy bellowing thing through my nose to clear a passageway for my breath.
The first night I tried to sleep, but lying horizontally meant drowning in phlegm, so I stayed upright most of the night. I don’t know how I made it to the doctor’s the next day, but I still remember that hopeless feeling when she said I had a virus and there was nothing I could do but wait it out.
There is one remarkable thing about this story, reader: I lasted two weeks in the middle of a sniffling, infectious mass before my body caved in. Considering my living situation, that’s a pretty big accomplishment. If you want to do the same, I would refer you back to my first point: avoid people like the plague.
When they were sick, I never came within two metres of my roommates and neighbours. If they were sitting on their bed, I talked to them from the doorway. (I tried making a cross with my fingers and hissing at them while we talked too, but they said that made them uncomfortable. Give and take, reader.)
I did not share utensils, dishes, bedsheets, towels, or desk surfaces with them. I deadbolted their doors so that they were locked inside their rooms for the duration of their illness. This might seem harsh, reader, but that’s the price you sometimes have to pay for your own health.
If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend who so much as clears their throat violently, instantly cut off all contact with them. Don’t hold hands, don’t make direct eye contact, and for heaven’s sake, don’t kiss unless you want to create a little Petri dish of incubation for bacteria in your mouth. Cancel your plans with them until a week after they say they’re feeling better. If they insist they’re not sick, don’t fall for it. The virus is probably playing with their minds, and you should trust your own judgement before you trust theirs.
If you can do all this, eat your fruits and soup, and bundle up when it’s cold, you should be able to make it through the winter. I would also advise you to look into getting a flu shot; there was a clinic available at the SLC last week, and there are still more throughout the region. Find your closest location and man up, reader, for your sake and mine. I’ll even hold your hand while the scary lady gives you the needle.
If you have a question for Sara, please e-mail it to her and she would be happy to reply.