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The Five Stages Of A Head Cold

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Most people are familiar with the “Five Stages Of Grief” made popular by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in the early 70’s. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance are all part of the grieving process.

While battling a nasty head cold this past week, I realized that these five stages are applicable to what I’m feeling as I trudge through my coughing-sniffling-sneezing phase. I sound like a barking seal and have been holed up in my house for days because the cough is as loud as an air raid siren. No one needs to see me in my ratty bathrobe that has pockets bulging with used tissues. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear this is how a zombie apocalypse begins.

I’ve also been taking that “feed a cold, starve a fever” saying way too far. I don’t have a fever, so I feel justified in stuffing my miserable, aching self with a stack of pancakes and a warm bowl of mac & cheese. There’s a reason these gastronomic pleasures are called “comfort foods.” This is also why I’m living in my bathrobe lately….because chances are my jeans won’t fit.

If you’ve already been slammed with this season’s new illnesses, I’m sure you’ll relate to these five stages of a head cold:

DENIAL: “I don’t have a cold. It’s just my allergies acting up. And the only reason my body aches is because I overdid it at the gym yesterday. There’s no way I’m getting sick right now — -only two days before my vacation begins. I’ll just drink a gallon of orange juice, pop some throat lozenges , and go to bed early. I’m sure I’ll be fine in the morning.”

ANGER: “Who the hell gave me this cold?!? No one else in my family has been sick. I’ll bet it was that guy hacking up a lung behind me in the 10-Items-Or-Less line at the grocery store. This is all his fault. How dare he set foot in public. He may have started a flu pandemic! If this coughing gets any worse, I’m going to put myself in an isolation tank for two weeks. At least it will get me out of doing housework for awhile. I’m far too weak to push a vacuum.”

BARGAINING: “Dear God, if you wipe away these cold symptoms right now, I promise to stop cursing so much at bad drivers. I’ll even build a habitat for all the ferrel cats in the neighborhood. Better yet, I’ll make dentures for all the elderly crocodiles living in the Everglades. I promise to do anything you ask, if you just make this head cold disappear.”

DEPRESSION: “10 days and I still can’t get out of bed. According to Web MD, I have a rare disease that comes from exposure to the dust on a rhino’s horn. Although I have not been to a zoo in five years and as far as I know, no one on the block has a rhino stashed in their backyard. I’m exhausted and drowning in nasal spray. My gawd, I’m going to die right here in my recliner….in my ratty bathrobe, with two Vick’s Inhalers shoved up my nostrils. If I die tonight, the mortician won’t need to embalm me because I’ll have enough cold medicine in my system to keep my body preserved for years.”

ACCEPTANCE: “Okay, I’m not dying, even though I look and sound like I have the Black Plague. I just need to adjust to breathing out of my mouth and having a head that feels like it has been filled with sand bags. At this point, I’d be willing to convert to Scientology if it meant having one phlegm-free day.

Now that I’ve been through the five stages of a head cold, I’ve forgiven the stranger who shared his germs with me at the grocery store, bargained my way into a larger size pair of jeans and decided that there will be no more trips to the rhino exhibit at the zoo.



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Marcia Kester Doyle

Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of the humor book, “Who Stole My Spandex? Life In The Hot Flash Lane” and a blogger at “Menopausal Mother”