It’s Just a Flesh Wound

I have a cough. That’s it: a dry, hacking cough.  A little congestion, yes, but really, it’s a simple dry cough.  No fever. No headache. No aches and pains.  So today I coughed into my long sleeves, sucked on a variety of cough drops (Ricolas are my new favorite thing), spread antibacterial gel on my hands half hourly, carried antibacterial wipes and used them every time I left my office (and everywhere in my office), drank quarts of hot tea and lemon, and went about my usual business of teaching one class, answering emails, grading essays and holding a few office hours. (Ok, I didn’t run today, and I slept in till 7am, but those were my only concessions.)

You would think I had the plague.  You would think I was playing the martyr. The embodiment of evil. The most self centered THING existing.  Some colleagues chastised me (only after hearing a cough or two since I am not obviously physically sick) for coming to campus at all, warning me that I had the swine flu and should have stayed home. They refused to come within 10 feet of me.

My students had an entirely different reaction. They laughed with glee at the note I put on the white board before class: “DANGER: Annie has a cough. Stay away. Put your essays on the table in the corner (and yes, I’ve wiped down the stapler). Don’t be insulted if I do not come close to you if you have a question for me.”  Despite my red-inked warning, however, they CAME  CLOSE TO ME to ask me questions and hand in papers. Some who were also coughing offered me their evaluation of the cough drop inventory at the supermarket, and then gave me a sample.  They even stayed late after class to finish working on the project outlines and research we had begun. Some of the students from this class showed up at my office hour after class to chat some more (luckily my new office is so incredibly huge, that the student chair could be placed far away from my germy desk).

So, what gives? Should I have stayed home? I feel FINE. It’s “just a flesh wound” as the knight on Monty Python famously said. Or am I being as famously stupid by ignoring what could be the precursor to the flu?  Since I will be missing a few classes next week for an out of town meeting, cancelling class today (a particularly important class, too,  in terms of the projects the students are starting to work on) seemed just wrong.

I suppose tomorrow morning will tell. 

Now excuse me while I take my trustworthy medicine for colds and coughs: a glass of cognac.

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11 responses to “It’s Just a Flesh Wound

  1. People are freaked out about H1N1 and may be more sensitive than normal, but still! I can’t believe your colleagues chastised you. You’re a grown up, for goodness sakes! You can make your own decisions about going to work…geez.

    Hope your cough goes away, dear Annie!

  2. I do know how your family has suffered from the H1N1, Ink, so yes, I DO take it seriously, and I’m serious about telling students to stay home if they have any flu-like symptoms.

    But the very boring, normal cold/cough sufferers are now at a loss in this situation (and my colleagues have all had their own family sufferers of H1N1, so I do appreciate their “concern”): I never would have stayed home with a mild cough in the past, but yes, I really did debate it this morning, and, as it turned out, I was right to think it over: some folks, at least, were concerned.

    Blah. Believe me I would have loved to have just stayed home and graded the 75 essays I have to grade by Monday….and I am seriously thinking of skipping the big meeting tomorrow morning using my “cough” as my excuse (several of those colleagues will be at the meeting—they will pass along while I’m not there, I’m sure). I have no problem using the mild cough as an excuse in THAT situation;)

    Thank you for good wishes, Inky. How IS your family doing???

  3. I know what you mean…anyone who coughs these days, from either cold or flu, kind of freaks everyone else out. As someone who has been coughing nonstop for four weeks now, I have certainly gotten my share of looks and queries. It’s hard to know when to stay home since all the literature says we should, with any flu symptoms, but then again, there’s work to be done.

    But definitely, it’s a perfect meeting excuse! 🙂

    We’re doing well, I think. Fever is all gone. But the cough has really lingered! Eek! Thanks for asking.

    Hope you’re feeling better today!

  4. I’m very happy to hear you all are doing well: I have heard that the cough lingers for a bit (and how odd that I seem to ONLY have the cough??).

    I’m at work again today (just for a meeting, and now in my office grading)—still coughing once in a while, but basically fine. (Ok, a bit grumpy since sleeping was impossible last night).

  5. We developed secondary infections (bronchitis for me, croup for the boys) so that’s probably why ours lingered.

    And oh, I feel you re: the nonsleep. Stupid coughs! Glad that you’re feeling finer and hope that it all disappears completely soon.

  6. Bronchitis? Croup? Blah!

    Still coughing, but ran 2.5 miles today, so obviously better….maybe I’ll bypass the bronchitis?

    So what is your favorite cough drop?

  7. You ran? You are my HERO!

    Ricola is my favorite cough drop. Actually, I prefer Luden’s but we stopped buying those for some reason I can’t remember. (My grandfather used to suck on those and give them to us like candy whenever we visited, so I have a soft spot for them.) What’s yours?

  8. Wait, to clarify: my grandfather did not suck on them first and THEN give them to us. He always had one in his mouth is what I meant. He really liked them. And when we visited, he’d share. But we got new ones, out of the box.

  9. Ink: I remember Ludens, but don’t see them at the store these days: I’m a Ricola girl for sure.

    Grandfathers—I just had a vivid image of my own playing the harmonica and the guitar at the same time. He was an amazing man.

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