Have you already had a cold? And I don’t mean Covid. I mean a real, old-fashioned cold.
About four weeks ago I started coughing. Of course I took several Covid tests – all negative. The coughing continued. More tests, still negative. I felt so sick, I even did a PCR test.
No, my doctor said, this is a cold. But that’s not possible, I explained perfectly rationally. I feel like I’m going to die.
Even now, almost a month later, I still have coughing fits. As if 18 months of Covid wasn’t enough, apparently there are now ‘super colds’ thanks to a combination of more than a year indoors, wearing masks and keeping distance from each other. Without our usual exposure to germs, a cold we would normally ward off puts us down.
After the Queen (pictured) spent a night in the hospital and returned to Windsor to recover, Dr. Max Pemberton explains how important rest is to recover from illness
Figures from the UK Health Security Agency showed that the number of calls to 111 about colds and flu, coughing or breathing difficulties is on the rise, with a particular increase in patients aged 15 to 44.
But maybe something good will come out of this. Perhaps one of the things the pandemic has forced us to do is to recover.
Due to the Covid rules we had to stay inside last year, take care of ourselves, rest. Forcing yourself to go to work, to fight, as we used to do when you were sick, was out of the question. The law specifically said you had to stay at home. Hopefully, this approach will be continued in other illnesses, even the common cold.
This must be a good thing. Just look at the Queen, who was advised last week to cancel her trip to Northern Ireland. She spent one night in the hospital before returning to Windsor to recover.
Yes, ma’am, at the age of 95, even you must learn to slow down, take it easy, watch some black-and-white movies and wreck a bowl of oranges – on a doctor’s prescription.
Like Her Majesty, we’ve spent years trying to keep calm and carry on, even when we’ve been feeling a little wispy. How many of us have gone to work with a cough or cold when we should have been in bed at home?
I think this behavior stems from our hectic, fast-paced modern lives. We refuse to believe that recovering from common illnesses, such as the common cold, takes as long as it really does.
A few days and that should be it, we tell ourselves.
dr. Max (pictured) said skipping rest means we often feel unwell for longer and also run the risk of spreading the disease to others
Not so long ago getting better was supposed to be a part of being sick. Back then it was simply assumed that after a few Lemsips you would be right as rain. People seem to be really perplexed when it takes longer to recover, but most coughs and colds don’t go away in a few days, it’s more like a week.
Skipping this part of the illness isn’t good for anyone – it means we often feel unwell for longer and also run the risk of spreading the lurgy to others.
Thanks to Covid, it has become very clear how serious this can be, especially for the elderly.
And it’s not just coughs and colds. We often underestimate how long it takes to recover from all kinds of things.
Earlier this month, comedian Robert Webb had to quit Strictly after realizing that his body simply hadn’t recovered from the open-heart surgery he had two years ago. It took him longer to recover. All credit to him for acknowledging this.
We all need to relearn the lost art of recovery; need time for our bodies to heal and recover. Covid has given us permission to stop and take care of ourselves.
Suddenly we are forced to go into self-isolation for days at a time and learn, I hope, the value of full recovery.
That old-fashioned “recovery period” helps the body to heal and the mind to settle down.
Generations ago, before we had antibiotics, people had to watch their health more closely. They knew it would take 14 days to recover from a cold, and the risk of pneumonia meant people would stay indoors and take time to rest.
Before the pandemic, we had learned to see this as almost strange and certainly not something a busy professional would consider doing.
But we owe it to ourselves—and those around us—to recover when we’re not feeling well.
There is nothing heroic about persevering.
Dr Max said Madonna (pictured) has turned into an almond-eyed teenager, and it’s creepy
- Despite a burning desire to do so, I have so far avoided commenting on Madonna’s social media photos. I think people tend to target older women too easily – especially how they look. But after campaigner Sasha Pallari broke cover in the Mail last week to accuse celebrities for editing their photos, with Madonna getting special attention, I can’t shut up. I love Madonna, she is a true pioneer – fearless, strong and independent. That’s what makes her use of social media so depressing. Instead of looking like a fit, healthy 63-year-old woman, she’s turned into an almond-eyed teenager, and it’s creepy. It’s like a car accident – you don’t want to look, but you can’t help but stare. What message does this send? We know that airbrushed images create unrealistic ideals of what people should look like and contribute to an epidemic of negative body image and low self-esteem. Madonna’s peculiar “teen” look further perpetuates our obsession with the youth and implies that the older body should be taunted. Over the years, Madonna has fought bigotry, sexism and homophobia. Why does she fall at the last hurdle and not challenge ageism?
Yes Kate, high IQ can be a curse
dr. Max believes that being very smart can make life a little more difficult because the world is more complex and you are aware of nuance and uncertainty in a way that others are not. Pictured: Kate Beckinsale
Kate Beckinsale says her high IQ has hindered her Hollywood career. Well, from where I’m sitting, you’re doing it right, Kate – but I get what you mean.
The actress, who studied French and Russian at Oxford University but dropped out of acting, added in the interview last week: “Every doctor, every person I’ve ever come across has said, ‘You’d be so much happier if you was 30 percent less smart.” ‘
I think being very smart can make life a little more difficult: the world is more complex and you are aware of nuance and uncertainty in a way that others are not.
I have seen this over the years in patients who have become depressed. Either they need a level of mental stimulation that is hard to find in a job. Or they consider things on such a deep level that they feel frustrated by others around them. It isolates.
I remember a psychology teacher who said what we should all want for our children is that they be attractive, but a little fat: they will live a charming life and be blissfully ignorant of their intellectual limitations. I have a terrible feeling that he might be right.
- We started our world-leading vaccine program, but now numbers have declined, and only a fraction of those eligible for a booster shot are getting one. If we become complacent, we could face more restrictions this winter, which would have a devastating effect on everything from mental health to the economy. It would be a tragedy if we threw away all the amazing gains we’ve made from the vaccine over the past year. Don’t wait to be invited – go online and book your jab today.
Doctor Max prescribes…
dr. Max said the Vivobarefoot range of ‘foot-shaped’ shoes can support your feeling and improve posture
The Vivobarefoot range of ‘foot-shaped’ shoes — rather than shoe-shaped shoes — are supposed to support your feet and improve posture (Primus Trail II All Weather trainers, pictured, £130, vivobarefoot.com). But I also like the way they make you feel connected to the ground — and they’re oddly comfortable. Founded by two shoemakers, the company also sells very sturdy hiking boots that somehow feel like you’re not actually wearing them.