Healthy curiosity can be a sick thing

Cold and flu season is here. At the first sneezing fit or sign of a sore throat, the question is not, “How long will this last?” but “Where did I get this from?”

We tend to get vindictive when we are forced to the sick bed. We don’t like it when our orderly lives are disrupted.

Oh sure, we hide the attitude and put on our best pathetic sick-person face but, on the inside, a lot of us slip into detective mode.

I may be weak, fatigued and sweating out a fever, but I can still muster the strength to cruise through a list of possible sources of contamination.

Chief suspects are always the grands—those lovable, adorable little ones we cherish dearly, the same ones who cough and sneeze into the crooks of their arms, and seconds later spray tabletops, countertops and doorknobs.

Next on the list of possibilities, merely by reason of proximity, is the husband. It is never him though, because he’s never sick. It’s one of the more irritating things about him. Always healthy. When you’re not feeling well, the last thing you want is to be reminded of others who enjoy perpetual good health.

Once family members have been eliminated as suspects, I expand the circle to consider the places I’ve been. There’s always the possibility of picking up something at the grocery. Who knows what germs reside on those carts or the produce? Did I really lick my finger to open that plastic bag?

The gym is a possibility as well. It’s easy to pick up something from an elliptical or a treadmill that wasn’t wiped down. Isn’t that ironic? We get sick trying to stay healthy.

Then there’s the ATM. Maybe it was that guy ahead of me in line. It’s going to be hard to track down a stranger.  It could have been the cash itself. Money is a huge carrier of germs.

Maybe it was that kiosk I used to order food. The findings of a recent study on all the microbes found on kiosks are disgusting. The conclusion was never order food at a kiosk. At least not with your hand. Use your elbow.

Maybe it was that friend I hadn’t seen in ages—the one who gave me a great big hug and who knows what else.

Paranoia is a faithful bedside companion to cold and flu season. All the detective work is so exhausting it can add another full day to recovery. Or lead to a complete relapse.

Maybe no one gave me this bug. Maybe I gave it to myself—inhaled at the wrong time, rubbed my eyes with some microbe on my fingertips or yawned wide when a germ caught a ride on an air current and sailed my way.

The truth is there’s no way to know.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop wondering. Or compiling suspects.

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