I recently got the cold from hell. This was a common cold with uncommon ambitions. It severely wanted to be influenza. Maybe even Ebola.
It came on extremely fast; within the space of two hours I went from feeling fine to feeling kind of crappy. By the next morning I was starting to hit the cold meds. The morning after that I was calling in sick.
Now that it's autumn, we're starting to see the ads on TV for cold medicines again, and they all lie, lie, lie, lie, lie.
[SCENE: Beautiful woman in a white coat striding down the hall of a hospital, but a much cleaner hospital than any you've ever been in.]
Woman: I'm a brain surgeon... and a busy mom! I don't have time to be sick with the common cold!
[SCENE: Same woman coming out of a car at a house, three adorable children and a fluffy dog bounding down the stairs toward her.]
Woman: (clutching children and dog) I can't reschedule my kids, or my patients' aneurysms! I need to be able to function, not lay around feeling like a beached whale!
[PICTURE: Box of Snotulax on a picnic table next to glass of water, blue skies and sunshine evident]
Voice over: New Snotulax fights all your cold symptoms and beats the crap out of them. Stuffy nose, cough, sinus pain, red eyes, sore throat, ringing ears, phlegm, swollen lymph nodes, aches, flat hair, grippe, fatigue, throbbing pancreas, tickled fancies, feeling like a beached whale---Snotulax knocks them dead.
[SCENE: Woman in scrubs standing over patient on operating table; leave mask off so we can see her face.]
Woman: Thanks to Snotulax I can go about my busy day!
Voice over: Snotulax, for symptoms of the common cold. So you can go to work and share the virus. Take only as directed.
The fact is, no cold medicine I have ever taken has done more than take the edge off. Which is no small thing, I'll admit; a pounding head from impacted sinus congestion is miserable, so even if you can only break through that one symptom you are doing pretty well. Still, the cold med commercials are promising you a reasonable semblance of normalcy, and they cannot deliver. At best I've felt maybe at 40% power.
The only advice I ever got that was at least not an overpromise was "Drink lots and lots of bourbon. You won't feel better, but you won't care." I hear Jack Daniel's is considering that for a new slogan.