more magical thinking

“What do you do for a cold?” a coworker asked me on Tuesday.  I was sniffling and nursing a sore throat.  I’m not going to take a sick day unless I’m running a temp or feel just vile.  This violates my rules on going to work sick, but it seems that I got this at work and the whole place has been passing it around.  Plus, I’m out of PTO, and boss lady has made it clear that since TWO staff members are going out on medical leave (one is me, for my own surgery in January; one is another staff member whose mother is having surgery in December), this is a “critical time” when we all “must be mindful of other staff’s workloads”.  What that means is that the office is stretched to the breaking point workload-wise and despite our pleas for a temp during busy times like this, she’s going to try to get by with the skeleton crew by pushing everyone – e.g. my tardiness of 3 minutes was an issue two weeks ago.

So when coworker asked me about the cold, my initial reaction was a sort of guilty “d’oh” one.  “Um…vitamins?”  I offered weakly.  “Well, I think I’m coming down with something,” she told me, “But sometimes I can will myself not to get sick.”  omg, she actually said it.  I’m pretty sure she had said it before but never quite so bluntly.  “Oh yeah?” I asked, with tone.  She didn’t notice and went on “Yeah, it’s like if I tell myself I’m not catching a cold, I can will it away.”  I laughed and said “I think perhaps you just haven’t met the right cold yet.”

The next day, I’m in with my now cough plus sore throat and starting to feel more systemically shitty.  I’m wiping down everything I touch and telling people not to get too close unless they want a dose of a cold.  Coworker’s sniffling but “willing” it away.  Another coworker stopped by her desk while I was passing by.  We all got talking and the second coworker revealed that her daughter was sick with “this awful cold…fever of 101 but the doctor says it’s viral,” she said.  I chipped in “well, we’ve both got something but we’re working hard on willing it away.”  Second coworker says, in all seriousness “Oh I can do that.  I’m really good at doing it.  When my kids all had the stomach virus and I was cleaning it up I just used willpower and pushed through.”  I asked “Does that mean you were vomiting but willed it not to take you down or that you actually willed away the puking?”  “I mean I didn’t get sick – I willed myself not to get sick and I didn’t.”

See, it’s just that easy.  And clearly anyone who is sick is just not willing hard enough.

Leave a comment


  1. Oh my goodness! I guess we all just need to will away our sicknesses. What the heck?!

  2. Wow. I want that super power!

    Hope you are feeling better soon!


  3. The irony is that the person who had supposedly “willed” her way out of countless stomach “flu”s went on to get cancer. Twice. Only a really rotten person would have pointed that out to her right then. Since I am not that person, I just quietly filed it away under “wtf”, cross referenced with “you should know better”.

    Feeling a bit better today. I think the cold medicine helped. That and not smoking as much. Apparently it’s not “feed a fever and give a cold an unfiltered camel”.

  4. “I think perhaps you just haven’t met the right cold yet.” is the best snappy comeback of all time.

    It’s completely unlike me as a human being and I am ashamed by it…. but I do wish a least some moments of really bad health on these suckers or think their mind is so powerfully over matter. because, you know, if I would just be more positive, my disability/illnesss would go away…

    (I’m a bit pissy today)

    • As infuriatingly frustrating as this attitude is, it does offer an interesting peek at our cultural orientations towards and about illness. It really is quite medieval thinking though, isn’t it?

      I understand your reaction, including your reaction to it. I have it myself – there’s one “New England Outback” doctor in whose car I’d like to set loose about 200 lyme disease carrying deer ticks.

  1. tempting « Final Trick

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