Here’s a transcript of a conversation I recently had with my body:
Me: Hey body! Have you heard? It’s Reading Week! We can catch up on sleep and dramatically reduce caffeine intake to get through the day!
My body: Its been very cold outside. I feel my defences are low. I notice that last week you slept less than usual. I’m thinking of expelling some of the mucus that’s trickling down your throat by developing a cough.
Me: No please! Body be strong! I’m stressed. I have so much to get done this week. I don’t have time to get sick.
My body: On the contrary! I’ve been strong, and I’ve been waiting patiently for this very occasion. It’ll be least disruptive now: you’ll be in contact with fewer people, and you will be able to nap all the time.
Me: Argh, ok fine! But please make it quick!
Chronology of my cough
Day 1—Finish classes before Reading Week. I feel a distinct, irritating tickle in the back of my throat, and I make a decision to take the evening off. I find instructor coverage for my 5pm Bootcamp class and take an early evening nap. Take Vitamin C tablets.
Day 2—Cough is developing. Feeling well enough, so I decide to go to the gym to attend a morning weightlifting class. I once heard that as long as the illness is in the neck or above (a headache, cough, runny nose) it’s still safe to work out. If the illness is lower than that (phlegmy chest cough or sore tummy, maybe miss the workout.) I use the oncoming illness as an excuse to purchase copious quantities of tea at David’s Tea. The temperature is very low.
Day 3— Valentine’s Day! What could be more romantic than coughing and wheezing in my pajamas? I decide to visit my mother in the suburbs. She makes me soup, stocks me up with Vick’s-vapour-rub-esque smelling herb oils, and provides me with Epson salts for a bath.
Day 4—Family Day! First things first: I ask my mom, was I coughing in the night? No? Incredible! I must be well. I drink matcha green tea, eat lots of vegetables, and drink probiotic yogurt drinks. My mother recommends that I visit the drop-in clinic, but by the time I’m back downtown all the offices are closed.
Day 5— I thought I’d be over this cough by now, so I haven’t cancelled my plans. I’m functioning on Dayquil and cough lozenges that taste like Buckley’s. I am that girl in the library, the ROM, the movie theatre, who keeps coughing. Sorry friends, I’m almost positive I’m not contagious. I remove the cough drops for an hour to teach my kickboxing class—my body is merciful and obliges.
Day 6—I slept terribly at night. I woke up coughing, uncomfortable, and aching. I’m out of patience. Anything that messes with my Reading Week sleep schedule has. got. to. go. I finally decide to visit a walk-in clinic. Noting that it’s too late in the morning to get an appointment at the Health & Wellness Centre* on campus, I walk a little southwest to a nearby walk-in clinic. I’m in and out of the office in less than 30 minutes.
(*Note: drop-in appointments are available daily at the Health & Wellness Centre, but make sure you call in or visit early in the morning, ideally between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m).
I now have a prescription for cough syrup that should make me well again. I’ve decided to be back on speaking terms with my body and have committed to communicating better with my body from here on out. What do I need to stay well? How much sleep do I really need? How can my body and I be in better harmony? First step, more rest.
Happy Nap Time!