Ah, late November. We’ve all just feasted on many great foods, we’re getting ready to do our holiday shopping, and Christmas music can be heard virtually everywhere. What a wonderful time of year, right? Well, sure. But it’s ALSO the start of cold and flu season – a time that turns a 20 minute commute to work into a gauntlet of dodging coughs and sneezes, mental reminders to TOUCH NOTHING, and panicked rushes for hand sanitizer when you realize you did in fact grab onto that bar to stead yourself when the bus came to a lurching stop because of the asshole with six shopping bags that decided they were too good to use a cross walk. In short, for people with a compromised or nonexistent immune system, the entire world rapidly turns into a scary place where a trip to the hospital and accidental germ warfare lurk around every corner.
Now, I’ve never been one to let curveballs the universe throws me slow me down. But in the interest of, like, living, I might have to significantly limit my time around people during the next few months. I might come across as a total dick and refuse to hug you, shake your hand, or come within an arm’s distance of you if you’re looking anything other than 100%. You see, that little sniffle you have that’s not a huge deal to you – that could be the thing that kills me. Because if I get a cold, there is no “letting it run its course.” It won’t run it’s course. It’ll continue to stick around, getting worse, and ultimately lead to pneumonia, because the little antibodies that fight off the cold and run it out of town are on strike right now.
Several of you keep pestering me about what you can do to help me out, make my life easier, or improve my quality of life during this battle. Here are 10 Things YOU can do to help out me and any other less-than-healthy people in your life this cold and flu season:
1.) Cover Your Goddamn Mouth When You Cough or Sneeze: If you’re coughing or sneezing, even if it’s “just a little cough” or “not because you’re sick,” you still need to cover your goddamn mouth. If you don’t you’re gross, and we can’t be friends.
2.) Carry Hand Sanitizer: And use it liberally. Just because you’re healthy doesn’t mean that the cashier you just handed your credit card is. It doesn’t mean the 27 people on the subway that was holding onto the strap before you were. Not only will your use of hand sanitizer help me stay away from peripheral germs, it’ll help you stay healthy, too! We both win!
3.) GET A FUCKING FLU SHOT!!! I don’t care if you buy into that well-debunked bullshit myth that flu shots actually make you sick. I don’t care if your belief in that myth caused you to have bogus psychosomatic symptoms the last time you got one. There are plenty of ways to get a flu shot for little to no cost.
4.) Stay Home If You’re Contagious: If you’re sick and you don’t absolutely need to go out, don’t. Exposing the rest of the population to your germs won’t do anyone any favors. Obviously there are certain unavoidable things, but don’t go out for a night on the town when you’re still in the red zone for spreading your sickness to others.
5.) Go To The Doctor: When’s the last time you had a physical? Since 90% of my friends are between the ages of 22 and 30, I’m willing to guess that for most of you the answer is “I don’t actually remember.” That should change, for your sake as well as mine. Not only will it help you make sure your own health is on track, it’ll also help you catch any random ailments or risk factors that are going to make you more susceptible to becoming sick and spreading your gross-ass germs to me.
6.) Refrain From Offering To Share Food: How many times have you been out with friends and eaten or drank something delicious and said something like “Oh my god, this is SO good, you HAVE to try it! Here! Take a sip/bite!” It’s normal. It’s polite. But it’s also a really great way to spread germs. Even if you’re feeling perfectly healthy, don’t do it. You have a fully functional immune system, and it might be fighting off something that my body can’t.
7.) Don’t Fucking Touch Me: Especially if you’re feeling less than 100%. I like many of you. But I don’t like most of you enough to risk getting sick because your sniffly self decided you needed to hug me.
8.) Brush Your Fucking Teeth: This is another one that comes with the added knowledge that if you don’t already do this regularly you’re gross and we might need to stop being friends. But I know an astonishing number of people who don’t take oral hygiene nearly as seriously as they should. Especially knowing where some of your mouths have been, ya nasty! Just make sure you’re cleaning out the infectious contagious hot-bed of germs that human mouths become.
9.) Don’t Take It Personally If I Disappear: I will likely cut back on going to places with large crowds. For sanity sake I’ll probably end up emerging for a few key events, but my presence in and around the social scene will become much more scarce. It’s not because I don’t support you or your event. I just need to avoid large groups of people when at least 40% of them are going to be carrying contagious illnesses.
10.) Take Care Of Yourself: Keep yourself healthy. Eat right. Wash your hands regularly. Make sure you’re doing what you need to do to keep yourself healthy. If you’re healthy, it’ll make it a lot easier for me to stay healthy without having to boycott your presence.
Please, and thank you! Until next time, be well.