The Five Stages of a Cold

Coughs and sneezes
Photo by peretzp @ Flickr

I have a cold. And I hate it. Like a whiny ridiculous baby. Good thing my husband is a way better person than I am because he’s taking care of my kid and letting me wallow in my bed. I thought I would share my experience with you, oh readers of the internet, because sharing is caring (also, my cold-mushed brain isn’t coming up with anything else). Without further ado, the five stages of a cold.

Stage 1: Fear and Panicked Prevention

This stage starts at the very first sign of any sort of illness whatsoever. A sneeze? Probably Ebola. A tickle in the throat? Throat cancer. A cough…werewolf syndrome. So what shall we do to ward off Ebola, throat cancer and werewolfery? We shall take a billion supplements. Now, research has shown that basically none of the things I do (which include taking copious amounts of vitamin C, a B12 complex, oregano oil, and zinc) have any effect, but I do them anyway, because the fear and panicked prevention phase has already begun and I’d probably drink monkey blood if I thought it would help. Then I go to bed early, but have a hard time sleeping for fear of the germs multiplying in my organs. I just pull the covers up to my nose and lay quietly to see if I can hear them plotting against me. (“Hey Jim, there’s some room here in her left nostril!” “Thanks, Archibald! This lady’s in for a doozy!”) Jim and Archibald, you stupid assholes.

Stage 2: It Begins

Any hope of preventing the onslaught of runny noses, scratchy throats and misery has now been squashed. Typically this stage consists of me dragging myself around the house, texting my husband a frowney face from time to time, then crawling off to writhe in the bed as soon as he gets home. Even though it’s clear that sickness has not been avoided, there’s still a hint of hope that it will only last a day or two. Yes, that’s right, if I sleep as much as possible and drink eighteen gallons of water, I’ll lick this thing quick. Pack your bags, Jim and Archibald.

Stage 3: Despair and Netflix

Jim and Archibald have taken over my body like the Cosa Nostra in Sicily (or like the Cosa Nose-stra. Get it? Nose? Runny nose? Meh.). After a time of being sick, when the realization that this is not a 24 hour thing sets in, stage three begins—the despair and Netflix stage. This is the stage in which I think things like, “I can’t remember what it’s like to be well” and “If I was feeling better I’d clean the whole house and exercise and make papier-mache and run for public office, but instead I’m going to die here, covered in snot with my peeling, crusty lips.” This is also the stage in which intermittent moaning occurs to remind the living that they should be leaving alms at my door. On the bright side, I’ve watched four seasons of Ally McBeal.

Stage 4: Faux-recovery

During this stage, the better-than-terrible feeling tricks me into thinking I’m healed and am also Superman so I should go run around the block as fast as I can to enjoy my newfound health. Two minutes of fresh air, however, reminds me that I am still a miserable mess and should lie down as soon as possible. Moaning resumes as my husband drags me back to the house.

Stage 5: Recovery!

Feeling well and chipper like a squirrel in springtime, I shower, do my makeup and head out on the town. I con my husband into taking me for coffee and plan out a day of grocery shopping and accomplishments. This lasts about three hours, until I remember that I’m actually a lazy person, and being a go-getter makes me sleepy. But who cares what I do? I’m well! And now I’ll sanitize my hands every hour and never touch an unclean thing again! Huzzah! And then my daughter licks the table at the coffee shop. Three days later she sneezes directly in my face. Countdown to stage 1.

How do you deal with colds? Are you the tough-it-out kind? Or do you experience these same five stages? Did you love that joke about the Cosa Nostra? (I know you did…don’t be snotty. Ha! Snotty! I’m on a freaking roll, I tell you. Or I’m sick and can’t tell the difference. Either way, I feel like a particularly spectacular brand of awesome right now. Don’t ruin it for me.)

The Five Stages of a Cold

26 thoughts on “The Five Stages of a Cold

  1. karishmachanglani says:

    Oh my god. I am in stage 4 right now and that is exactly what I did. Got super productive and did a lot until my friend dragged me and said enough, go back to your bed and whine so I don’t have to hear you whine additional 2 days later and I said ok…


  2. Sonja says:

    Hilarious yet sadly accurate. I’m now on day 4 of a cold that I believe was developed by an alien species to render humans completely useless. I have vaseline caked on my nose, to help with the soreness from blowing it constantly. My house smells like a pine forest from all the vicks I have now chosen as my new perfume fragrance. My adult son who brought this lovely mess home to me is now afraid that at any moment I will decide he must pay dearly for my discomfort. I am now exhausted from the effort it took to type this and shall return to my bed….hopefully tomorrow I will have made it one day closer to the end of this misery we call a cold.


  3. Lacedog (as in sick dog) says:

    I find your humor comforting Melanie. Your 5 stages are similar to how I review/rate a common cold. I count the days of being sick & keep track of the symptoms (as if I have total control). Currently in day 6….which tells my brain that the cold is on the way out. Slept all day which I know is a good remedy, but come on…it is Day 6! I am a golf professional & the fairways-n- greens are calling me, “Lacedog…get off your ass!”. So looking forward to Day 7…..

    Like your sense of humor Melanie…it makes me smile :-)


  4. Haha, it must run deep in the Crutchfield DNA! I also found this by googling “stages of a cold” as if this is the very first cold I’ve ever had in my life. I really needed the internet to tell me that I’m going to feel like my normal self by tomorrow, but instead I find some long lost relative who feels my pain! It has to be a good sign :)


  5. Greg Panza says:

    So friggin hilarious! I’m on morning #4 with only marginal relief and i googled “stages of a cold” to try to get some idea if im on the home stretch. The laughter you provided with this post was the best medicine yet! Glad i’m not alone in my crazed position on colds and how to handle them. And for those of you who so cutely commented about how you just skip right to the last phase and go about your lives…Thanks a lot!! Its because of people like you that I feel the way i do right now. If you are sick, have some consideration of others and stay the %$!! home!!


  6. You, of course, have a hero for a husband. My dear wife has been sick and in bed now for a week and my idea of helping her is to resent the illness. It’s as if I feel the germs will get tired of my impatience, truculance and bad attitude and go bother someone else. No sympathy at this house!! Let’s go to Crutchfields and watch Ally McBeal.


  7. Candice says:

    This made my day, came across is trying to research what stage I might be at with my current end of the world cold, hoping it will be gone by Christmas. I am the exact same, but I look at my boyfriend and stick my lower lip out in a sad face, and many moans and groans every time i move or adjust myself on the couch like its the hardest task, but I pretend I’m not such a baby on day 2 and wake up do my makeup like I’m ready for our weekend then once I’m done getting ready I am already laying on the couch with my blanket ready for a nap, not to mention the mini lay back down in bed sessions I have when I’m just getting up.. Pick out my outfit… Back under the covers.. Make coffee back in again :p and I remind him all day how awful I feel like I should be given some medal for leaving the house when I feel like this lol


  8. Frank says:

    Omg I literally just laughed so hard at this. Thank you. Im so sick right mow lol.This is me exactly. Every stage. Currently im somewhere between stage 3 & 4. *sneezes*


  9. LMFAO this is exactly how i am.. this very moment.. i feel like i shall die here! 2nd day feeling like death laying around doing much of nothing! I better feel better tomorrow !thank you for the laugh! when i read this it sounded just like something i wrote haha


  10. Chika says:

    Absolutely fantastic! I couldn’t have put my cold experiences down any better than you have. Also, you’re funny :)


  11. Sneezy says:

    why do they call it a COLD when I don’t feel so HOT? also why do I get a summer COLD when the temperature ups to 90? And why do they call it a COMMON COLD when there’s more than one type, being there are upteenth viruses that can cause it…Anyway they all feel lthe same, like @#$%^&*.
    Achooo…..cough, cough…..!!!!


  12. Mikey N says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    I can totally sympathize with sleeping a day straight and drinking 18 gallons of water to “get better” the following day. IT NEVER WORKS! My colds always begin with that sore throat and the “off-feeling”. Nowadays, I just accept the onset of the cold and realize I just need to let my body do its thing the next 4-6 days.



  13. Laurel says:

    Deeply amusing post, Melanie–and oh so true! And just what is it about being sick that people feel they MUST go to work…so that everyone can see just how sick they are? And they spread their germy love while they’re at it…and the cycle begins anew. Sigh.


  14. I think I personally just stick with Phase 1 and then Jump to Phase 4!! It’s all about trying to push yourself to get cured ASAP! I don’t care if I’m puking blood – my body will accept the fact that I’m not SICK!!!


  15. Candace says:

    We are truly one. I’m in stage three and have come to the conclusion that my immune system is so shoddy that I’ll probably never be well again.


  16. Chrissy Corrao says:

    I reside in the Despair and Netflix stages. I get so fatalistic…and then I think to myself if I ever really did get REALLY sick…I wouldn’t fight it. i would just let go. I admire those people who bravely battle…I surrender. I also cry. And no matter what I always call my mom…just to tell her I am sick…I must be so annoying…


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