A couple weeks ago my three-year-old son came down with a cold. Pretty standard stuff runny nose, sneezing, loss of appetite, cantankerous attitude so my wife and I attended to his needs, making sure he was as comfortable as possible. At one point he wandered up to me in a semi-daze with arms outstretched and said, Daddy, hold me. It was one of those moments every parent dreams about. My child, feeling physically drained, wanted to be in the one place that offered total and complete comfort: my arms.
As I basked in the beauty of the moment, offering soothing words of encouragement, he slowly lifted his head from my shoulder, looked deep into my eyes, and without warning, sneezed directly into my face. All parents know that bodily fluids come with the territory when raising children, but the unannounced sneeze is potentially the most damaging.
This tiny moment between father and son could have been filmed for a Discover Channel feature on infectious diseases. It took less than 24-hours from the time of the ill-fated sneeze until I noticed the first symptoms that something foreign was attacking my system.
Initially I felt a little tickle in my nose, which was followed by a bevy of eruptive sneezes. After five or six minutes my nasal passages began to fill with mucus, requiring me to have a box of tissues within arms reach. After retiring for the night, I was awoken at some ungodly hour with a piercing sore throat and knees that felt as though they had been attacked by a baseball bat. By morning I could barely sit upright due to the pounding headache that was ravaging my skull. I was officially sick big time.
Now, Im a healthy 40-year-old man whos in fairly good shape, but the disease that my son passed to me rendered my body completely useless, literally bedridden for a week. Each morning upon awakening I would immediately analyze my symptoms in an attempt at gauging my recovery. While my sons body seemed to overwhelm the disease in a couple days, my body decided to hang out with the foreign invader for an extended period party if you will.