Covid face masks come in handy as a cold from hell turns me into a bug-breathing dragon – Susan Morrison

Without appearing to brag, in the past few years I’ve been through four major surgeries, three weeks of radiotherapy and eight rounds of chemo. And in the last week, a cold, which completely flattened me.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 4:45 pm
Tissues can be an issue when in the grip of a really bad cold (Picture: Yui Mok/PA)

Seven days this has been going on. The nose was well blocked, then suddenly, dramatically, wasn’t. The flow was prodigious and constant. That is all you need to know.

I feel guilty about the boxes of paper tissues. Every time I blew my nose I felt Greta Thunberg glare balefully at me, like Marley’s ghost, only grimmer.

In a sort of mild fever dream, I found myself explaining to young Greta that I did think about sustainable hankies once, in a charity shop in North Berwick. I spotted a little set of cotton hankies. We used to get them for Christmas. Pretty rubbish present, now that I think back on it. Try that on today’s X-Box generation.

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But, Greta, I said, those dinky hankies look cute and are indeed reusable, but they need washing and ironing, and at the rate I’m going through sneeze rags, I could drain the entire National Grid.

Also, young Ms Thunberg, hygienic these are not. As a child I witnessed noses blown then the hanky stuffed up the sleeve of a woollen cardi, there to be left for weeks at a time, quietly growing fascinating bacteria and harbouring random viruses, all cooking and mutating like a deep space alien on Doctor Who.

I blew my nose on a Kleenex and told Greta to do one.

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Naturally, I unleashed a top-level cold war. At one point, I think I accidentally overdosed on Lemsip, which made a wander past the Omni Centre pretty trippy. Those giraffes were talking about me, I’m sure of it.

Hot toddies became my friend. They do naff all for colds, but who cares? They taste good.

Of course, this cold has competition. Covid still stalks us like the unkillable villain at the end of the movie, ready to leap from the shadows and clobber us if we don’t watch out. I lost count of the number of tests I did to make sure it wasn’t the Dread ’Rona.

At one point, dazed, confused and probably off my head on Night Nurse, I watched as only one line appeared on the panel then broke the news to my husband that I wasn’t pregnant.

Covid might have moved the dial on the etiquette of sneezes and sniffles. Once we were expected to ‘battle on’, and stagger into workplaces roaring with chesty coughs and awash with snot, releasing plumes of virus-laden droplets, like bug-breathing dragons.

There were even adverts for cold remedies to get you back in the office, pronto. Only wimps stayed at home. Terrible idea. All you did was make sure that the hawkers of cold remedies would see their sales figures soar in the next few weeks.

Now we are far more conscious of the way bugs spread. When I had to be around people whilst cold-ridden, I felt really comfortable wearing a mask to protect others, just as they’ve been doing in Korea and Japan for yonks.

Coughs and sneezes do spread diseases, so perhaps we’ll be happier to keep our faces covered when the real cold and flu season gets underway.

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