The rise and fall of the merciless cold

Carolyn Aldis
Carolyn Aldis
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So, it’s that time of year when the leaves start to fall from the trees, the morning air turns us all into fake smokers and schoolchildren all over the world are succumbing to the coughs and colds that float in the air around us.

There is no mercy shown … regardless of whether you’ve got an exam, or a week’s holiday booked, or a birthday meal out, or an important client to meet with whom you’ve had to cancel three times already.

No, these suckers strike at any moment and leave you with what I affectionately call the “Katy Perry syndrome” ... you’re hot, then you’re cold.

Then there’s the headache that stops you in your tracks so you have to take to your bed, hoping that the pain will be gone when you awake.

But the truth is, when you eventually wake hours later, your head feels stuffed, your throat’s dry and your nose has seized up, which is why you woke up in the first place.

No amount of Olbas oil is shifting that lump and you’re destined for a night propped up, trying to get comfortable, wondering if you will ever feel well again.

So when all of my girls woke this morning, complaining of headaches, sore throats, dizziness and coughing, I was very sympathetic.

I’m not hyper medical – I’ve never owned a thermometer, preferring my own diagnostic test; touching their foreheads and exclaiming “Oooh, you do feel hot.”

I had a friend whose son grazed his knee while we were all out at the park.

Crying, he came running over to his mum, who was already pulling the first aid kit out that she apparently always carried.

Within five minutes, she had steri-stripped him back together again. My children were awestruck by this level of care. I didn’t even know you could buy them.

I guess our approach to medical things is passed on by our mothers and my mother was the same as many others in the 1980s when it came to first aid…Germolene, plasters, TCP and Vicks were the staples of our first aid kit, kept in a high cupboard.

If we were ill, a cursory feel of the forehead, a visual check and a bottle of Lucozade were all that were necessary to get us back to being well, which was fortunate when I started going to secondary school and had to feign illness to be guaranteed a few days off.

Looking back, I think this was the start of my acting career and when my mother wised up and uttered those dreaded words “Go to school and see how you feel”, I had to up my game, concocting home-made vomit made from water and talcum powder (it looked surprisingly realistic, even if it did smell of lily of the valleys). A few more days off were guaranteed.

This probably explains why I am doing my GCSE maths now.

Thankfully, they all feel well enough to go back to school tomorrow, so I can relax, knowing they are still on course to take their GCSEs at the slightly more conventional age of 16.