The Silver Lining of a Chest Cold

By Jeffrey Pillow on October 21, 2019 — 3 mins read

“There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.” Henry David Thoreau

I’ve been battling a nasty chest cold the last two weeks. Whether brought on by seasonal allergies or a virus matters little. Regardless of the culprit, I’ve felt absolutely horrible and I’d put money on quite a few of you reading this who have been going through the same. It’s that time of year, after all.

Complaining is easy, especially when you’re sick. So why not find the silver lining instead? This could apply to many things in life. Take a supposed negative and flip it on its head. Find the sun peeking out of the clouds.

As if my lungs feeling like they own real estate inside a red hot furnace wasn’t enough, with a nasty chest cold comes excess mucus. Excessive mucus made it difficult for me to talk.

As soon as I’d say a few words, phlegm would travel up and block my airway. I say this with little dramatization. It honestly scared me on two occasions. So long as I didn’t speak, I was okay. While in a phone meeting with one of my employees during my virtual office hours, I had to pause continuously so I could stop coughing and breathe.

“Sir, you should go see a doctor,” she said.

That is correct. Someone calls me — the kid who was nearly expelled from high school twenty years ago for having a mohawk — sir.

I logged into my doctor’s patient portal to review available appointments. No such luck with any openings.

I looked at the rest of my day’s work calendar. Six more meetings. Most of which I’d have to speak extensively to provide my input. I’d been hanging in there the last few days trying to make it through the end of the week, but I couldn’t do it anymore. So, I reached out to my colleagues, cancelling or declining one meeting after the next.

Mug after mug of hot tea (ginger is my favorite) and spoonfuls of honey and Mucinex may help. But as the saying goes: rest is the best medicine. And so that’s what I decided I needed more than anything.

Life goes by at such a rapid pace we rarely take the time to slow down and rest.

As poet May Sarton once so eloquently put it, “The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of room, not try to be or do anything whatsoever.”

I logged off my work computer and headed into the house, grabbed a blanket and slipped under. I was out like a light.

Those four hours mid-day were a game changer alone. I put in time off from work for the following day. I was going to rest. My birthday was Saturday, and still being sick as a dog wasn’t one of the gifts I asked for.

The next day I attempted a nap again, but my body wasn’t a taker to the task. I could still rest and take it easy though. And, I was able to push fluids in me the entire day. This provided tremendous benefit.

I switched between hot ginger tea and peppermint tea throughout the day, and ran to Whole Foods to pick up my favorite cold tea concoction from Honest: Ginger Oasis Herbal Tea.

I’ve spoken little these last few days of my recovery and listened more, first borne out of necessity and then as gratitude to my family and children. Perhaps I should be sick more.

For in this time my children’s laughter and playfulness was more beautiful than I had previously been aware.

And in my rest my strength of body grew and my appreciation for my wife blossomed, more attuned to the little things she does that often go unnoticed by me day to day.

What, in your experience, is the silver lining of being sick?

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