or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, March 10, 2008

Under the Influence

I am cruelly laid low with a cold. Or possibly the flu. How does one tell them apart, anyway? I've never known. All I know is that yesterday I had a nose that was running like a faucet, among other hideous viral/bacterial manifestations, and today my sinuses are jammed full of something probably unmentionable, which means I have no sense of smell (therefore no appetite) and my teeth hurt, and also I have a nasty cough-inducing tickle in my throat that's preventing me from sleeping, which is why I'm here writing this at 11 p.m. instead of getting some much-needed rest. I pride myself on my ability to slog through nearly anything, but I'm so sick that I didn't go to work today. The last time that happened was pretty much never. The last time I went home from work early was some years ago when my co-workers were so moved by sympathy at my obvious distress, or more likely so disgusted by my various cold/flu noises, that they insisted I get away from them and stop infecting them with whatever.

Anyway, that's why I've had nothing to say for the past few days. Or nothing more than this: "flu" is the short form of "influenza", which is Italian for "influence", because people thought that flu epidemics--the biggest of which, let's not forget, as recently as 1918 killed somewhere between 20 and 100 million people globally--were caused by the baleful influence of astrological phenomena. (As medical science advanced, the name was enlarged to "influenza del freddo", "the influence of cold".)

Here's something else I don't know: why is a cold called a cold? Because it spreads most easily in cold weather? The Online Etymology Dictionary says it's "from symptoms resembling those of exposure to cold", though I find this unsatisfying. But what the hell do I know? I'm sick!


Blogger Frank said...

Actually, the Online Etymology Dictionary's explanation is good. When you go out on a cold day for a while, your nose will start filling up and running, like with a cold (probably your body producing excess mucus in order to warm the air coming into the lungs; that's one of the sinus' functions, to warm and humidify the air before it gets to the lungs). You also get red cheeks, like you do with a fever, and, of course, you get the chills.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger pyramus said...

Okay, that does make perfect sense. I'm sold.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:51:00 AM  

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