No hoax, age delivers sickness of its own

It’s official. I’m no longer invincible.

Let July 2009 — at 37 years and 8 months, give or take — be forever marked as the moment I succumbed to my aging body.

I am on Day 8 — 8, I tell you — of a cold. In July. My nightstand is a virtual medicine cabinet and my bed is my new favorite spot in the house.

This is how I know it’s bad: My son got this cold the same time I did and he’s already back to jumping ramps on his bike. Of course, I wouldn’t be jumping ramps with or without a cold, but you can see why I’m concerned. He’s fully recovered and I’m dragging myself through the house by my fingernails and squinting at the light.

I was told this day would come. I remember the moment I was warned. I was 24 years old and working at my first ‘real" job as an editorial assistant at a magazine when a colleague that I’ll call Rebecca (because that was her name) came into work and said, "I’ve been sick for a week. This is going to be the cold that kills me."


Then she looked straight at me, her watery eyes staring into mine, and said, "Just you wait. You’re young now. But let me tell you. Someday your body’s just not going to heal like it used to."

I smiled and nodded, but didn’t pay much attention. I mean, Rebecca was really old — like probably 37 — and had two kids. Clearly, I had nothing to worry about.

Plus, my mother promised me something she called "Mother’s Immunity."

When I was growing up, it seemed like she never got sick, even when playing nursemaid to her daughters’ myriad ailments. "Mothers don’t get sick," she told us. "I need to stay healthy so I can take care of you."

And I believed her. But it was all a hoax.

On Day 1 of this particular cold, I popped some vitamin C and took a long nap with my son. By Day 5 — with that same child taunting me with his ability to breathe through both nostrils and make it through a full sentence without a 30-second coughing fit — I admitted defeat. I also, as is typical of me, decided I had some kind of rare and incurable disease.

Luckily (or maybe unluckily), I still had the energy to pull my computer up to my chest to do some investigative work. The Internet is, after all, the hypochondriac’s best friend — or greatest enemy, depending on your position.

Propped up against four pillows and roughly 147 crumpled tissues, I logged into my laptop and typed in my symptoms. Twenty minutes later, I had my diagnosis. Clearly, I was suffering from a rare condition caused by the flu vaccine (never mind that I’ve never had a flu vaccine) in addition to persistent withdrawals from a drug I’ve never taken.


Who knew?

I thought about going to my doctor with my discovery, but that seems unnecessary. The Internet happens to be full of cures, too.

It turns out I just need to sit in a hot room with a wet towel over my head before taking a fish oil pill the size of a AA battery and practicing my deep breathing.

I should be fine in a few days. But you might want to keep your distance just in case. Especially if you’re as old as me.

Jennifer Koski is a freelance writer in Rochester. Her column appears Wednesdays. Send comments to

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