There have been, and still are, a lot of strong men and women in my life. No matter their chosen field(s), most have led me to believe that one must meet challenges head on. That includes greeting individuals with a hardy handshake.

This western world custom was reaffirmed during a “real world” advertising class that I took during my senior year in college. It was especially important for women to extend a right hand, careful to avoid clasping a potential client’s hand in a limp, clammy fish-shake. Handshakes must be firm and decisive. So I am a business hand-shaker, unless I’m sick.

Last week I came down with the sore throat and gooey head cold that’s currently making the rounds in Putnam and Allen Counties. I would like to blame the nasty germs on my cousin Mark. For the last couple of Christmases, he’s brought some sort of contagion north from the Carolinas and shared them under guise of gift wrap. But he moved on through to Michigan this time around and so is off the hook. I could also cast some baleful glances around the office here, but they all had something before the holidays. This may be some sort of divine payback for my having skipped around the desks, gleefully pronouncing that I wasn’t sick.

As I was dripping with goo from Monday through Friday, I didn’t shake too many hands. So impressive was my college professor’s teaching that I felt compelled to tell everyone why I couldn’t shake their hand. By Thursday, my red nose kept folks at an exaggerated arm’s length, anyway.

What I did do was to try nearly every cold remedy known to whomever wanted to share one with me this week. I’m a lousy invalid. I whine and share my symptoms with everyone, wanting to know when, dear-heaven, will this persecution be over, and why isn’t that now?

So in the name of true sharing, here is what I did last week to alleviate my impatient suffering. Some of the behavior was based on experience. Some were suggested by other people. I pass along the info in a show of solidarity to those who are just developing a sore throat and to help me remember why my bank account took such a big hit during a five-day period.

Monday: ingested zinc tablets, hot tea, hot oatmeal (plain), took hot shower, drank more tea, bought herbal cough drops on way to work, turned on space heater under desk, drank more tea and cranberry juice, put coat back on in office and turned up space heater, ate vegetable soup, opened box of mentholated tissues, drank tea, floated home to hot shower and bed

Tuesday: added an expectorant and onion soup

Wednesday: added Vicks rub on soles of feet, dropped cough drops directly into tea and held swollen face over steam, walked to Ottawa Chamber of Commerce “Taste of Chamber” thinking brisk, cold snowy air would do me good, shivered back to office, drove home to hottest shower I could draw

Thursday: bought a decongestant with expectorant, ginger throat spray, ginger root to add to tea-and-cough-drop brew, drank “pleasant lemony flavored” night time cold remedy, passed out

Friday: covered entire body and accessible nasal passages with Vicks, opened second box of tissues, and ate an entire pummelo (huge exotic grapefruit) on a drive between Ottawa and Columbus Grove

Some things helped, others not so much. As My Steven reminded me, as he is still a couple days behind me in recovery, not every human body reacts the same. Good luck. And, yes Mom, I will get a flu shot once I’m drip-free.