Our Post COVID Immune Systems Are No Match For The Common Cold

COVID Isn’t The Only Thing Out There

I’ve developed a terrible disease. No, it’s not COVID. I’ve been careful with the masks. I’ve taken all the vaccinations, avoided crowded indoor spaces.

But there’s another disease out there. And we are all vulnerable, especially since we’ve masked ourselves away from the usual bugs and germs that live in our environment. It’s the simple, old-fashioned cold.

The background: In February we came to Charleston, SC, to visit children and grandchildren. The kids have been careful. They have all been vaccinated. The grandchildren don’t even go to the playground for fear of being exposed to COVID. They do go to preschool, but both teachers and kids wear masks.

immune systems

However these grandchildren are age two and four. And if you know anything about two and four year olds, you know they have runny noses. Pretty much all the time.

The Thing About Colds: They Spread

So my wife is wiping their noses. And pretty soon she’s wiping her own nose — and coughing and hacking and feeling terrible. She tested for COVID, but the results were negative. Just a cold. She spent three or four days confined to the house, two of them never even getting out of bed. It was the worst cold she’d had in … well, she couldn’t remember when. She’s mostly better now. But it’s been two weeks, and she’s still coughing.

When she came down with the cold I took no chances. I moved into the guest bedroom. I used a different bathroom. I washed my hands about every ten minutes. Just maybe I could avoid getting this disease.

But still, we ate dinner together, watched TV together, and when she started getting better we spent some time together in the car. And sure enough, by last Wednesday I could feel something. By Thursday I knew I had the cold. But it wasn’t too bad. Sometimes, we thought, the second person in the household to catch the cold doesn’t get it as bad.

Falling Victim To The Germs

Wishful thinking. I spent Saturday in bed, popping DayQuil and listening to my wife cough in the distance. On Sunday I could barely move. My throat was raw from coughing. My head ached from the fluid in my sinuses. It was horrible.

I thought I might have turned the corner by Monday. But then… why couldn’t I muster the energy to roll out of bed? I couldn’t eat a thing. I tried to drink water. You’re supposed to drink water. Man, I felt like I was drowning.

Now it’s the end of the week. I am finally starting to feel a little better — just in time to go home. I feel like I wasted a good portion of my vacation — didn’t see the grandchildren for a week — and of course the days I was in bed were the days when the sun finally came out and temperatures started to climb into the low 70s.

What About Our Immune Systems?

Was this a particularly virulent strain of the cold virus? Maybe. But we wonder if all our social isolation, all our mask wearing, meant that for two years we were never exposed to any germs. Our immune systems were out of practice. They forgot how to respond to a normal, common virus. So when a garden variety cold comes along, we are sitting ducks. We have nothing to fight off the virus. And we were laid low.

The consolation is that now, hopefully, our immune svstems are back in shape. We’ve had our re-entry cold. Now we’re ready for real life when we’ll be exposed — and able to fight off — the normal germs and common colds.

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About The Author
Tom Lashnits
Tom Lashnits
Tom Lashnits spent 40 years in New York book and magazine publishing before retiring to Bucks County, PA, in 2017. He now volunteers in the school system, produces the baby boomer blog Sightings Over Sixty . . . and is just starting to chase after grandchildren.
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