The plight of Rhinopharyngitis

The Common Cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, acute coryza and, my personal favourite, rhinopharyngitis).

Symptoms: Frequent sneezing; throat like sandpaper; obscene amount of snot flowing indiscriminately from nasal region; general fatigue and listlessness, decreased appetite for everything other than tomato soup and chocolate-based foodstuffs.

Incompatible with: Sleeping soundly; going about your daily life, exercising, being cheerful.

Cure: INCURABLE (to put this in context, there’s recently been talk of finding a cure for AIDS, yet the most common illness of them all cannot be conquered? Who are these scientists? And are they serious?).

Did you know that the average adult contracts two to three colds a year, with the average child contracting between six and twelve? Whilst not debilitating, colds have the ability to zap us of our joie de vivre, making even the simplest of tasks seem suddenly unbearably difficult.

It starts with a general feeling of malaise and exhaustion. You’re too tired to go for a run, to cook dinner, to meet friends for a drink. Even the thought of hanging up the washing leaves you drained beyond all reasonable measure.

Then comes the sneezing; huge howlers that catch you unawares on buses and tube trains, prompting all those in the immediate vicinity to turn away in disgust. You wander the streets like a leper, residing in the shadows with mouth covered and a grotty tissue clasped in your sweaty hand.

Your throat is scratchy and no amount of water, wine or hot Ribena (just me?) can quench your thirst. You catch sight of yourself in the mirror and feel certain Caspar the friendly ghost would envy your complexion. Even your hair is lacklustre.

You go about your tasks like an automaton; without enthusiasm. You begin to avoid people, conversation dries up. Your single waking thought revolves around your need to be in bed – alone, and with a box set of your favourite TV programme. You have, in the space of a few short days, become a virtual recluse.

If armies used the common cold virus against their enemies in war it would surely help them secure victory. Imagine a whole squadron of trained killers feeling a bit below par, having to stop every now and then to blow their nose or take some cold and flu tablets. Imagine the gains the opposition could make!

Put simply (and crudely-from the mouth of someone in the throes of one right now), the common cold sucks balls – big, hairy, snot-filled ones.

So there.

I’m going slightly against my picture rule today but thought I’d spare you a picture of my ghostly face and eye bags, and instead post a picture of the common cold itself. Pretty little blighter ain’t it?

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Spring has sprung

It’s been a long old winter this year, one that’s greedily stretched its icy fingers all the way into April. Roads have been closed, leaving cars shrouded in snow looking like strangely shaped, grotesque and faceless snowmen. Homes have been without electricity and thousands of elderly and vulnerable people have been housebound and alone.

And all the while an overwhelming, cloying, crushing malaise has settled on the dwellers of London, this city I call home, as I’m sure it has across the many other towns and cities in our fair (or, let’s face it, not so fair in recent months) land. The kind of malaise that leaves you wondering with alarming regularity why you don’t just move somewhere with guaranteed sunshine and be done with all the greyness and the bitter cold once and for all.

But we Brits are a hardy bunch, and our impressive ability to moan is surpassed only by our ability to bear the weight of such an oppressive spell of poor weather. The lack of Vitamin D has no doubt been a factor in our collective mood this past few weeks, but deep down each and every one of us has been stoic in the face of the Big Freeze, purely because we knew it wouldn’t – couldn’t – last forever. We have been playing the waiting game.

And if today’s weather is anything to go by, that waiting game may soon be at an end. For when I stepped outside this morning for my run something felt different. There was still a slight chill in the air, granted, but as I ran I could feel the warmth of the glorious sunshine on my face and I just knew in my bones that winter was finally losing its war against spring. Clapham Common was full of runners, their gloves and hats stowed away at home for the first time this year, as were mine. Parents pushed prams lazily, without rushing or wincing in the biting wind. The collective malaise had lifted, at least temporarily, and in its wake were cheerful people blinking in the light like newborns, ready for whatever life saw fit to bring. 

Though we dream of jetting away from it all, we Brits are a hardy bunch.