Cathy Hamilton: Denial 1st stage of cold


I should've kept my big mouth shut. I should have stifled myself when I was ahead. But, no-oooo! I just couldn't resist.

"Everyone in the house got the bug, except me," I boasted. "I know it's my new lifestyle - the exercise, sensible diet, vitamins and supplements - not to mention my positive attitude, a must in disease prevention. I haven't been sick all year. My immune system's a brick house. I'm the picture of health."

While my loved ones were coughing, sniffling and sneezing miserably, I smugly thought I was impervious to pain. Convinced of my resistance to the gazillions of bacteria lingering on doorknobs, countertops and remote controls, I waited on my patients hand and foot - picking their used tissues off the floor, washing their teacups, feeling their foreheads for fever every 15 minutes.

"There's not a virus on Earth that can get the best of me," I declared, confidently. "Not with my trusted Neti Pot, vitamin C and elderberry! Dr. Oz called it a secret anti-viral weapon!"

Never underestimate the power of germs.

The bug came on stealthily - on-and-off headache, intermittent pain in the sinuses, a sniffle or two in the morning. I dove into a little river called Denial, No. 1 of the five stages of communicable disease:

"There's nothing wrong with me. This is nothing but a fluky, springlike allergy attack, brought on by the orchid in the bedroom that just bloomed. Or, it's the dry winter air. Nothing a room humidifier can't fix. No worries. I'm fine. I'm fine!"

The next day, my head and sinuses throbbed with intense, stabbing pain. My nose dripped like a leaky faucet. Razors pierced the back of my throat. My knees were sweating, uncontrollably. Welcome to Anger, stage two:

"Why me? I did everything right. I Neti'ed. Got eight hours of sleep. I washed my hands so often my knuckles are bleeding! This is so unfair. I hate everything and everyone. That includes you, Dr. Oz! You and your 'elderberry for what ails you' nonsense!"

Bargaining (stage three) followed closely behind as I negotiated for time:

"Just let me get through dinner with the girls tonight and my deadline Thursday. Then, you can lay me flat. I'll spend all weekend in bed, and I won't complain. And, I promise never to brag about being 'impenetrable like Wonder Woman' again. That was the elderberry talking. I was taking it in wine form, you know. Who knew there were chewable tablets available?"

Of course, my haggling didn't work and, the next day, I was down for the count with a full-out, multisymptom upper-respiratory infection. Depression set in, the dreaded stage four:

"What's the use? I was doomed from the start. I knew I should have doused those remotes in Lysol. Who am I kidding? I am not the picture of health. I'm 'The Scream' by Edvard Munch. That's how much my head hurts right now. What's the point of fighting it? The bug wins. I lose. I'm a loser. Shoot me now."

My pity party concluded, I entered stage No. 5: Acceptance. And forced everyone else to accept it, too.

"Listen up, everybody," I announced to the family. "I'm sick. I admit it, and here's what needs to happen. Someone go to the drugstore and get me a three-day supply of tissues, cough drops, nasal spray, lozenges, magazines and NyQuil. Do not skimp on the NyQuil - get at least two bottles - and don't even think of buying the generic brand this time."

"Next, I'll need my laptop, power cord, briefcase, pillows, blankets ... bring them here and set everything up on the ottoman. Vaporizer goes over there, not too close to the electronics. Put the remotes on the coffee table, within arms' reach. Don't worry about spraying them with Lysol. Too late for that now."

"I'll need a pot of tea with lemon and honey, big glass of water, Saltines, 7-Up and sugar-free Jell-O. Cherry or strawberry, preferably. And popsicles! Twenty-four. Assorted tropical flavors. No bomp pops!"

That's when I slipped into stage six - it's optional, but a personal favorite: the "Big Fat Baby Drill Sergeant on the Couch" stage.

Can you blame me? A picture of health like me may not get sick again for another year. Why not milk it for all its worth?

Cathy Hamilton is a 53-year-old empty nester, wife, mother and author, who blogs every day at


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