It’s like walking around with a cartoon anvil above your head, ready to drop.
As soon as that scratchy warning niggle at the back of your throat announces itself, you’re a ticking slime bomb – you know you have only minimal days in which to get everything done as a functioning human, before you’re reduced to a clammy, tissue-strewn corpse who can only say “blargggh”.
If properly planned and furnished with the right pharmaceuticals, I believe having a cold can be a positive experience.
You get to catch up on your ITV2 viewing, not wear a bra for a couple of days and uncover a whole, fresh, new layer of skin on your nose.
So when I felt the warning niggle a couple of days ago, I said “ahoy! What have we here?
A cold on the horizon?” and set about battening down my hatches with all the stoicism of a wizened sea captain (who doesn’t quite know what battening means).
I even allowed myself a specific window of time in which to be ill. I pencilled it in my mental diary and faxed it over to my white blood cells – a whole weekend in which I had nothing to do but be a snivelling invalid.
I did some prep, by binge drinking Berocca for three days in advance and digging out my slipper socks.
It was going to be a congestion carnival.
A little paracetamol party for one. And, best of all, I got to spend a stupid amount of money in Boots.
I can probably blame the fact I’ve never taken drugs recreationally for the way I feast on pharmaceuticals every time I have an excuse.
This doesn’t count as recreational, of course; there is nothing leisurely about my attitude to flu treatments.
It is a full-time job, and I approach it like an Apprentice contestant approaches a weekly task – with minimum knowledge, maximum confidence and a little whiney voice.
And, oh, there have been such advancements in the world of lurgy-treatment since my last bout! Strepsils with added vitamin C, Olbas Oil-infused tissues, supplements with guarana so that you can fight germs and go to a rave at the same time.
So I embarked on my Designated Weekend Off swimming in advantage points, gathered my blanket pile, positioned my tissue bin, and made sure I was within easy reach of fluids and the remote control. And waited. And waited some more.
When, by Saturday evening, I still felt pretty chipper, I started getting anxious.
Either I had managed to bypass the cold altogether, or it was working on its own agenda.
Two days on, I have learned the following things – recovery speed is not directly proportional to the amount you spend on drugs (antibodies do not conform to schedules) and it is far less fun being a clammy, tissue-strewn corpse who can only say “blargggh” in the office.
*This is a lie. There are plenty of things worse, of course – waiting for a donor organ, waiting for a delivery man to call between nine and five, waiting for a night bus in the rain.
Waiting for Godot.
But being ill gives me an inflated sense of self-importance, as well as swollen glands.