‘Cross diary 12: I get ill

June 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Posted in cycling | 4 Comments
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So. I was all set! Then an unscheduled visit to the doctor put paid to my racing plans. I’ll spare you the details, but antibiotics and painkillers are on the menu, and riding is off, for a bit.

Nevertheless! All clouds really DO have a silver lining: I have secured a medical expert* to illuminate our kvetching about minor illnesses. Below, she answers some common questions put to her by anxious athletes. Mahlzeit!

Doctor Smurf

  1. Am I getting a cold?


  1. Can I stop myself getting colds?

Probably not. Washing your hands a lot is supposed to help. You could try a Neti Pot, though this carries a small chance of your brain being eaten by amoebas. Don’t bother with squirty First Defence-type stuff; it’s so horrid, you’re better off with the cold. (See also: indigestion, and Gaviscon.)

  1. I feel terrible. It’s flu, isn’t it. Oh, god.

Imagine a £50 note. Now imagine a sudden breeze blowing the note out of the window. If (and only if) you can’t get up to save it, you have flu.
Open Window Season

  1. Can I still ride my bike with a cold?

Received wisdom states that if your symptoms are above the neck only, you can go out and exercise. In real life: STAY IN YOUR HOME. It won’t kill you to have a couple of days off. If at all possible, stay away from work too. And public transport. WE DON’T WANT YOUR GERMS.

  1. Can I make my cold go away more quickly?

No. However, fun cures are 43% more likely than sensible ones to give you the illusion of getting better. Fun cures for colds include:

  • Sitting on the sofa in your dressing gown, flicking through Vogue and eating Mini Eggs;
  • Hiding under the duvet, reading something by Michael Hutchinson;
  • Spending an entire day on Twitter, trying to get @cyclingweekly to RT you;
  • Drinking hot milk with whisky in it;
  • Watching films, as long as they are the kind your partner doesn’t like;
  • Eating raw garlic, and opening the door to the postman with an enthusiastic ‘HHHHALLO!’

Carry On Screaming    Original 1966 UK Quad Film Poster - Tom Chantrell Artwork
On no account go near any of the following, as they will just make you feel even sorrier for yourself:

  • Work
  • Lemsip
  • Herbal tea
  • Daytime television
  • Healthy people
  1. Is this headache a migraine?

If you have tunnel vision, or a flashing viper is coiled around the side of one eye, take two paracetamol, turn off your phone and go to bed IMMEDIATELY. Other migraine symptoms include feeling like your scalp is a Medium while your skull is a Large; bursting into tears when asked anything complicated, like whether you put a wash in; and an inability to string a, you know, what do you call those things. Sentence! An inability to sent a stringtence together. Yes.

  1. Should I see a doctor about this scratch on my leg?

If you can see bone, or it looks green, or black, yes. Otherwise, wash it and put a plaster on it, and hope for the best. Note: if you are from Yorkshire, go to A&E immediately so they can sew your leg back on.
Leg Scratching Post

* Well, she SAID she was an expert**

** This joke (c) Monty Python


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  1. Hope that whatever ails you is now on the retreat following that excellent get better plan

    • Thank you! I’ll be up and at ’em again in no time…

  2. That is a perfect description of the flu – the true blue flu (ie, influenza). It’s not cold symptoms so much, but the fact your muscles refuse to move.

    Best defense against colds? Sleep, sleep, and more sleep. Cancel all your plans and SLEEP. The hot toddy (milk, whiskey, honey) helps too.

    Don’t knock the Neti Pot. I’ve used it daily for years and have maybe gotten 1 or 2 (unavoidable) colds. Naegleria meningitis be damned; I’ll take my chances.

    • How nice of you to read and comment. Very good point re. sleep – thank you! I never take this advice, but should. Sorry for Neti Pot dig – it was just too good an opportunity to miss! No offence intended. Some of my best friends are Neti Pot users…

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