#334 The first meal you eat after a cold

I had a streak going.

See, for the past two years I narrowly avoided getting sick. Have you ever made it through a winter or two with that kind of luck? It was my first time and let me just say there’s nothing like a little run of good health to make you feel invincible. I felt like He-Man. I mean sure, I ran from sneezing toddlers, used my feet to open bathroom doors, and washed my hands six times a day with a homemade cocktail of industrial-strength bleach, hand sanitizer, and imported echinacea flowers.

But I was healthy.

Unfortunately, my invincibility cloak against all germs was ruthlessly shredded this year with a brutal three-week bug that drained me completely. Sore throats, clogged nostrils, and dull headaches caused sleepless nights, lost weekends, and hours and hours combing pharmacy aisles in salty boots and tattered bathrobes looking for some magical combination of pills, cough syrup, and throat lozenges to pull me through. My credit card statement even claims I bought a humidifier during this foggy, desperate period.

Worst of all, my appetite shriveled to the point where two saltines and half a banana was my big meal of the day. I couldn’t swallow, I couldn’t taste, and I lost my love of chips, chocolate, and chicken chimichangas … all at once.

Truly, it was agony.

But that’s what made it great when my marathon cold finally disappeared. Yes, once my immune system warriors buckled down, fought the brave fight, and ended the three week war, well … let’s just say I got my tastebuds back and it was time to get chompin’. The battlefield was still bloody and the ink wasn’t even dry on the Peace Treaty of My Lungs before I started drooling for dinner.

Yes, the first meal you eat after a cold welcomes all your senses back into the magical World of Food. And the World of Food is a good world. It’s a safe world. It’s a tasty world. And it’s a world you lived in since the day you were born. After sipping back milk and slurping mushy peas your tastebuds opened into carbonated seas full of coffees and teas and macaroni and cheese.

Bubbly drinks or cheesy nachos, juicy burgers or dripping tacos – it don’t matter, it don’t matter, it don’t matter at all. What matters is the gates are open, your tongue can taste, and it’s time to come on back in… and start enjoying food all over again.


The Book of Awesome is currently #1 on Indigo.ca. Thank you to the entire staff for the incredible support!

Photos from: here, here, and here

41 thoughts on “#334 The first meal you eat after a cold

  1. Glad you’re feeling better, Neil! I’ve recently been worried about this. The last time I was sick was January 11, 2009. And this is coming from someone who used to get 3 colds, the flu, and a nasty bout of strep throat every single year. I pound emergen-C every time I travel or go near someone who has traveled and have miraculously managed to escape the germs thus far. Now, I’m worried my luck is about to run out…eep!

    1. Lara – you know the day you were sick? (and it happens to be your two year “Not Sick” anniversary tomorrow? Congrats!) That’s a pretty precise memory you’ve got there..

      Can you do this with other things as well? When was the last date you got a really bad hangnail? Stubbed your toe? Bloody nose? :)

      1. LOL! No I had a flight to Venezuela that day, so that’s why I remember. I hate flying when I’m sick. And I stubbed my toe yesterday ;)

  2. Hilarious! I love it! I am still laughing. :)

    I very rarely get sick, but this year has been the worst … as soon as I think I’m over it, BAM! A kid lets out a cough/sneeze combo in my face that literally blows my hair back (true story, and let me tell ya — that prompted a drop-everything-and-practice-covering-our-mouths mini-lesson).

    That first meal as a citizen who has returned to the ways of those able to eat/taste again is like some sort of revelation … the clouds part and angels sing in celebration.

    1. Children are disease vectors, for sure! Keep up the good work teaching them to cover their mouths (and then wash their hands…)! Darn them and their germy adorableness!

      1. Haha — they SO are! I have Purell/Germ-X/whatever in every conceivable area of the room. Like, seriously nine or ten open bottles going at once. And I Lysol and Clorox-wipe like there’s no tomorrow.

        I hear the first year of teaching is the worst … so I look at it as building some kind of super-human immune system ;)

        1. It is! First year teacher here. I got sick for ten days at the beginning of the year. Now I’m fighting off mega-cold for the second time. By the end of the year, we will be warriors, mighty and strong. For now….looking forward to today’s awesome thing, whenever it may arrive.

          1. Uhoh! I hope you feel better soon :)

            I know how you feel. Near the beginning of the year, I was sick on/off (mostly on) for over a month … I kept thinking, “Eh, I’ll get over it. I don’t need to go to the doctor, it’s just a cold — all they’ll tell me to do is sleep it off and drink lots of water.” Well, I finally went and ended up walking out with two prescriptions and a shot!

            I can’t wait for a (hopefully) sick-free second year.

  3. I am currently battling an awful cold-turned sinus infection. I cannot remember the last time I felt this horrible. I have pretty much no immune system so I get sick ALL the time.

    When I get better, I am making my favorite meal of tuna noodle casserole and enjoying a ice cold bottle of coke. I miss being able to taste food. Well, I miss being able to eat!

    1. Jenn,
      I used to get sick all the time too. Seriously, I’m no sales rep. Build your immune system with this reasonable and remarkable remedy: Bio-strath elexir.
      Be well:)

  4. Thank goodness it’s summer in Australia right now. I have a few more months to prepare!

    (Lest I get the dreaded “summer cold” – a terrible ailment against nature, if you ask me. One should not be able to catch a “cold” during warm weather.)

    P.S. That burger at the top looks freaking delicious. (:

    1. Oh my gosh — SERIOUSLY! Summer colds are the worst! You’re just chillin’ out, doing the whole summer thing, and then all the sudden you’re sick?! What’s that about? Here’s hoping you don’t catch a summer cold! :)

    2. BTW: A. Nonny Muss – don’t you like how there is a nice red squirt of “tomato sauce” right next to the burger? :) (See – I’m learning how to communicate with you Aussie folks..)

      Hope you’re basking in the summer sun a little for us.. we’ll be sure to check in on your health next July while you’re hopefully not battling a winter cold! :)

      1. LOL – yes, with a side of “french fries” (look at me, using American lingo)!

        Gosh, you’d never know that we both speak English, what with all our random terms and pronunciations (like the whole “Aunt” being prounounced like “ant” over there. Crazy people! Hehe).

        1. When I was a little kid, I thought my Uncle Lant’s name was “Uncle Aunt” and that was very confusing. If only we pronounced “Aunt” the Aussie way, there’d have been NO problem!

          1. But maybe in Australia that would have pronounced Lant’s name like “Launt”, and you’d be stuck with the same confusion???

  5. It hit BC hard too; highly contagious. My 6 month grandson caught it and didn’t know what hit him! The poor little guy can’t blow his nose yet!
    I side with the children, they are innocent! They learn quickly to sneeze inside their shirt, think it’s funny how it tickles their tummy; don’t like to lose play time, while having to stay in bed and they hate cold medicine!
    The guilty are the grown-up’s who sneeze and cough with their mouths wide open spreading their nasty germs at least a 5 mile radius! KNOW BETTER!
    As for the after cold/flu meal, chewy, gooey, yummy, poutine’s for me!
    So glad you feel better-be well & Congrats on the #1 best seller, Awesome!

  6. Sorry to hear you had the ‘feel bads,’ but as long as you are ok now!
    Its been so long since I have been THAT sick, so sick that I can’t and won’t eat my favorite foods. (Knock on wood) It would definitately be a difficult decision as to what my first meal was going to be though.

  7. Neil, I couldn’t agree more. I am getting over a cold thing as well. I think when this is over I will have……….something good. I did have chili the other night, and I could taste it, but just barely. Cannot wait till I am well again. :)

  8. Three weeks it is – been going through the same thing and am finally feeling human. Many tales of it going around. I haven’t been laid this low in years.

    Glad to hear the recovery is going well. Mine has been so gradual that I don’t know if I’ll get the same rush that you’ve got, but I do know that one of my awesome things will be going a whole night without being woken up with a coughing fit.

    1. Don’t know exactly what happened here, but it feels like you “over pasted”.. that’s a whole lot of URL you’ve got going on there..

  9. Neil, the way you have described your pain, made me feel like I was going through it and finally I made it healthy and feeling awesome. You made it feel like every problem on the Earth is as big as anything from a war fighter to hungry African kids to a sick person. Nothing is minute..everything is huge and nobody understands until we walk in that person’s shoe.

  10. It’s one of those little surprises; Like when you have a cold and turn your head while you sleep, for a brief moment able to breath freely… Until your snot slides to the other side of your skull and clogs your nose again.

    Love your work!

  11. Neil, today was a lousy day for me and nothing could get me out of my funk. I tried all my usual methods and I felt out of sync all day. Then I got home and sat down next to The Book of Awesome. I opened the book and read one of the entries and broke into laughter out loud. Thanks for being the anecdote to my “funk”. :0

  12. Eh… When I have a cold, I can still eat normally. And when I have a serious bug or something it only lasts about 3 days.

  13. I don’t care what first, last, second, or fifth meal that is. I want a burger that looks like that. Now. Please?


  14. I smiled at the AWESOME-ness of this post, as I just recently got over a bad cold that kept me from enjoying the last three days of 2010…but I’m back, baby!!

  15. This really made my day. I just got home from the hospital after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and sleeping there two days unexpectedly after an endoscopy. Granted, I won’t be eating cheeseburgers and chocolate chip cookies just yet with a new restricted diet for a while, but good home cooking will be plenty better than the baked chicken I had last night (and by baked, they meant plastic). Perfect timing!

  16. Getting better after being sick is absolutely the most awesome thing. I do not get sick (well almost never). I was sick for Christmas 1975, and until February of last year that was it. It caught up with me with a vengeance, and I had three days of abject misery. Hopefully I’m good for another 35 years.
    Having the appetite return and devouring those first bites is truly one of the wonders of nature, and absolutely awesome!

  17. Even BETTER, the first solid food after getting your wisdom teeth out. Just the experience of day to day activities after spending on a roller coaster ride between high and miserable with nothing to eat but mush. That was my week last week.

  18. Or first meal after either oral surgery (bummer) or any other surgery (you can’t eat after midnight the night before so you’re really STARVING when you come out of surgery! Still one of the best cheeseburger experiences EVER!

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