It is cold season. I know it’s cold season because I have a cold. I always have a cold; whenever there is possibly the opportunity to get sick, my body is first in line. And I don’t get a “cold” like when people claim to be sick but all they really mean is that they blow their noses once an hour, and maybe their throats are a little hoarse. I hate those people.

When I talk about colds, I’m talking about the sort of all-consuming illness where your entire face is raw and chapped, and you go through a box of tissues every day and you consistently walk into walls because your inner ear is destroyed. THAT is the sort of cold I get. And I get it a lot.


I get colds so often, in fact, that I’ve become something of an expert at carrying on my day-to-day life even though, inside, I am held together by nothing but phlegm and despondency. (Isn’t that sad, that my area of expertise is “how to leave the house while sick”? And that I’m even kind of bragging about it?) I can’t stay home in my pajamas every time I have a cold. If I did, I would essentially never go to work.


So, based on my years of experience, I’m going to share with you my best advice for leading your life while sick.

CLOTHING: I recommend wearing clothes with pockets, in case you’re leaving your Kleenex box in your bedroom to go to the kitchen for more orange juice or tea. The pockets allow you to carry a couple tissues with you, in case you sneeze during the twenty-second walk between your bedroom and kitchen. Your only other option is to stick tissues up your sleeve, a là your grandmother.

You should also NOT wear any garment that is dry-clean only, because inevitably you will get snot (or at least germs) all over yourself, and it gets prohibitively expensive to dry clean everything that you smear cold germs on. 

HAIR: Up and out of your face, again because you run the risk of sneezing on it. Snot in your hair = probably a fashion don’t. 

MAKEUP: I’m sorry to say this, but really:  don’t bother with eye makeup. Not when you have a cold. Your eyes will water and itch, you will have to rub them all the time, you will smear your mascara all over your face. Sinuses don’t like eye makeup, that’s just the way of things.

Powder and vaseline, though, those are your friends. Those you can depend upon.


ACCESSORIES: In addition to your usual purse, I recommend carrying a separate “cold kit” bag. I like to have a physically separate bag so the germs can’t contaminate the normal stuff in my purse, like my cell phone and driver’s license. A cold kit allows me to keep all my cold paraphernalia together.

Your cold kit should include at least some, if not all of the following:

    •    A box of lotion tissues. No, not “ultrasoft,” and not “antiviral,” but a tissue that distinctly promises you lotion, aloe, and E. This is to minimize nose redness.

    •    A tube of Vaseline. Also for fighting red-nosedness.

    •    A couple cough drops.

    •    A couple nasal decongestant pills.

    •    A bottle of nasal spray.

    •    A bottle of hand sanitizer.


My current cold kit is a plastic bag from CVS, but you can go for something more stylish than that. That is your prerogative.