Down and Out During Cold Season

Jennifer Dennard  @JennDennard
February 02, 2018  | Last Updated: February 02, 2018
Young woman lying in bed blowing nose --- Image by © Mike Kemp/Tetra Images/Corbis


I’m closing in on the two-week mark of a head cold that seems to have taken over my entire family. I noticed my husband’s sniffles first, and immediately poured myself a tall, cold glass of Emergen-C. Several days later he was as helpless as a newborn babe (as I’ve heard husbands can typically be) – laid up in bed surrounded by tissues, cough drops, and cold medicine with a full-blown cold. I carried on the family routine as usual (using copious amounts of hand sanitizer all the while), caring for the kids and the home, making sure homework got done and normal routines were adhered to while fitting in my full-time job.


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After 15 years of marriage, I’ve come to realize that the way my husband suffers through a cold is a bit different than my ability to cope with a similar set of symptoms. While I can maintain the status quo while not feeling well, I try to be proactive when it comes to staving off illness. As I saw my husband’s condition deteriorate over the next day or two, I knew there was no way I’d escape upper respiratory ailments completely. Being the chief household officer, I immediately looked at our family’s calendar. If we both were out of commission, what would need to be rescheduled, turned down, and just plain canceled? It’s times like these that I realize just how much we collectively have going on.

Sure enough – on the day of our wedding anniversary no less – I felt a tickle at the back of my throat and promptly texted my husband, “You gave me a cold for our anniversary. I was hoping for flowers!” Since my symptoms were still in their infancy, and he was putting up a brave front, we decided to keep to our dinner plans. Hibachi with a hint of menthol-flavored cough drop never tasted so good. (And I ordered the hot sake purely for its medicinal properties.)

The next day found our roles reversed, which is when you know it’s bad. He took care of me, mainly keeping the kids out of the way so I could spend most of the day in bed. I did cuddle with my laptop because, let’s face it, the day’s work still had to get done. The following few days, which thankfully fell over a weekend, were a blur of phone calls, texts, and emails to reschedule our various activities due to both me and my husband needing at least two days off from obligations so we could rest up for the workweek ahead. With the exception of a playoff tennis match I knew I couldn’t get out of without letting the entire team down, I managed to have a truly relaxing weekend with my family.

Is it sad that it takes an upper respiratory infection to force me to slow down? Perhaps. But that downtime also made me appreciate the flexibility I have in my life. I could work in fits and spurts from the comfort of my bed. Friends stepped in to teach our Sunday School class. My daughters’ respective gymnastics and horseback riding coordinators were very understanding. And should I have felt the need to go to the doctor, a visit was only a short video chat away thanks to the telemedicine benefits of my health-sharing plan.

As I finally feel the last symptoms begin to drain away, I am looking forward to getting back to the usual routine. The laundry machine is running full tilt, weekly grocery shopping is looming, and preparations for the school- and workweek will begin shortly. But I have to admit, being down and out during cold season can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered.


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