The leaves are changing colour and the air is getting cooler everyday, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for your body to fall apart.

I don’t know about you, but I always, ALWAYS get sick when the season changes from summer into fall – not in the depths of winter as you might expect. Your brain is still stuck in summer mode, so you forget to wear a cozy sweater, and (in my case) you still think you can prance around town in a short skirt ’til the middle of the night. Then, BOOM, you wake up the next day with tonsils the size of golf balls, covered in white mountainous caps of pus, and you spend the next three weeks cursing your body for betraying you (when you should be cursing yourself for betraying your body).

They say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” which is indeed true. A very good friend of mine however came up with a better analogy, which he related to me two weeks ago as I was languishing with strep throat:

“Immune systems are like toilets: you shit into them all day long taking them completely for granted. Then they break, and it’s like ‘OH MY GOD, THERE’S SHIT EVERYWHERE, WHY DID I NOT LOOK AFTER MY TOILET BETTER, I’M SUCH A DAMN FOOL…'”

This gave me a good chuckle, which I needed, because being sick makes you very, very unhappy. In fact, you always forget how much being ill affects your mood until you become ill. So you take your good health for granted. Then you become ill, and you despair. You feel like you’ve always been ill, you can’t remember what it’s like to be happy and healthy, and you feel like you’re never going to be happy and healthy again. So you swear to yourself that if you do by some stroke of luck become healthy again, you’re going to take incredibly good care of your body. And then time goes by, and you forget all about what it’s like to be sick and you take your body for granted – so you get sick. On and on it goes, round and round.

Coincidentally, my friend reassured me that my sad mood was largely due to the fact that I was sick, and he boasted that one of the reasons he had been so happy for the past month was because he was so healthy.

Then I got better, we got together on the weekend and made mischief.


Then he woke up on Monday sick as a dog. And now he’s miserable. On and on it goes, round and round.

At the end of the day, we all get sick, one way or another. So what are you to do?

In my case, I went right for the penicillin. By the next day I felt human again. God bless white man’s medicine.

Pharmaceutical painkillers and antibiotics are pretty new to me – my hippy mum raised me on herbal and homeopathic medicine, I only really discovered the joys of acetaminophen in my twenties. So my mother of course feels pained – even betrayed – whenever I go to a pharmacist instead of a naturopath.

Without fail, when I get sick, she tries to hand me a bottle of sugar pills. And without fail I roll my eyes, tell her that although I’ll happily take an herbal preparation now and then, please stop trying to give me homeopathic remedies, I’m fed up with her trying to give them to me. And then without fail she pouts, and gets all quiet, taking my aversion to homeopathics as a personal affront to her entire way of living. And then without fail I get frustrated, tell her that it’s not personal, can you please just accept the fact that my brother and I don’t ‘dig’ homeopathy, it doesn’t have anything to do with how much we love or respect you, can you please just let it go? And then without fail she says OK, but remains quiet and pouty, and I sigh and roll my eyes and stomp off to the pharmacist.

Anyways. Where was I? Oh right – white man’s medicine rules. Sometimes it really does just the trick. But of course the distinction between “herbal remedies” and “pharmaceutical medicine” is not so clear as many would believe. Many (if not most) of modern meds are based on plants and other living organisms: morphine and codeine come from poppies, derivatives made from rosy periwinkle are widely used to treat leukemia, and penicillin, as we know, is just mouldy bread.


And non-biological materials from the natural world can also work wonders: Agricur, an antiseptic made from French clay, could one day replace conventional antibiotics in the treatment of bacteria, which are increasingly becoming antibiotic resistant.

Of course, modern medicine still has infamously been defeated by one of our oldest enemies: the common cold.

There’s just about only one thing that everybody agrees you need when you’re sick: sleep. But sometimes, when your sinuses are clogged, your throat is swollen shut and you’re ramping up a fever of 102, it can be incredibly hard to fall asleep.

One scientist, a Dr. Chris Idzikowski at the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, believes he has come up with the perfect formula for solving this problem:

i4 + (x * t3) + (y * i1) – a1 – t4 + t2 – i3 + (2 * (p+p2)) + L1 = sleep

Click here for a piece in The Independent about this algebraical concoction.

I, however, have my own formula for dealing with the common cold:

Loud Whining + Very Patient Mother/Boyfriend/Roommate + Chris Rock/Wanda Sykes Standup DVDs + Skipping Work + Whiskey + Hot Bath + More Whiskey = Partial Relief

I think I should patent it.