The 10 Stages Of Being Assaulted By A Bad Winter Cold

Half the office is down with a nasty cold this week, me among them. I’ve been laid up for the past couple of days, and can’t remember what the outside world looks like (kidding! Not really). We imagine some of you are also experiencing your first or fifth cold of the season, so we’ve cataloged the 10 horrible stages of a virulent winter sickness. Share your extra stages in the comments, please.

Stage 1: The “I Think I’m Getting Sick, Maybe If I Just Drink Enough Emergen-C I Won’t Come Down With A Cold” Moment. Otherwise known as denial.

Stage 2: The Evening Before The Cold Really Hits. You think, maybe I can sleep this bitch off. You are so, so wrong.

Stage 3: The Morning Reality Check. Everything is congested. Everything! Like things you didn’t know could be congested. You’re no longer breathing out of your nose. You’re a mouth-breather! You are so gross and not fit for public consumption.

Stage 4: Makeup Delusions. You think, maybe if I take a shower, put on some normal people clothes and do my makeup, I’ll feel better. You get dressed and put on makeup, which only serves to highlight how sallow your cheeks are, and how bright red and swollen your nose is. Whoops.

Stage 5: Snot Surrender. Is it possible to have mucous coming out of your eyes, you wonder? Because seriously, that’s what your face feels like; as if you are drowning in a pool of snot, located directly under the surface of your skin. Talk about a hostile takeover!

Stage 6: An Existential Ache. Every muscle aches. You try lying down, but that’s uncomfortable, too. Your whole body is racked with pain and muscular sensitivity, including and especially your face, which has contorted itself into a slack-jawed nightmare, thanks to the last several hours of mouth-breathing. You try watching TV, but even that requires a level of concentration and physical focus your body cannot muster.

Stage 7: Am I Dying? Has anyone ever died from a common cold? Could I be the first? Your condition rapidly deteriorates as you imagine that your case will be posthumously covered in the New England Journal of Medicine. You gather your pets and favorite items of clothing together to say goodbye.

Stage 8: The Big Sleep. You don’t die, but you do go to sleep — for a good 14 hours. You wake up with the left side of your face — the migraine side of your face — pounding. Could it be that your cold has conferred with your migraines to create some kind of superdisease? How much Tylenol is this going to require?

Stage 9: The Breakthrough. After sleeping for another four hours — making that a total of 18 hours of cold-related rest — you wake up not feeling healed, per se, but feeling better. The congestion has left your sinus cavities and has traveled upwards, embedding itself nicely in your ears. This means you can’t hear and your head still hurts, but at least you don’t feel like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon animal held aloft with mucous anymore.

Stage 10: The Promise. You will never, ever refer to it as “just” a cold, ever again.