January 4, 2007
Aspen, CO ColoradoI should have listened to Dan Thomas.I always heed the advice of the punctilious copy editor, especially when he’s quick to ask “Why passive?” or “What were you thinking when you wrote this?” But when it comes to his advice concerning personal health, I was quick to turn a deaf ear.You see, Dan, who has been snowboarding for nearly a decade at the country’s preeminent resorts, has come up with a foolproof way to avoid illness during the ski season. His goal: Induce sickness by any means possible in September and early November, thus kicking his antibodies into overdrive just in time for winter.Dan is quite an innovator. He sleeps with his window open until the end of October. He refuses to turn on his heat before Dec. 1 or the year’s first snowfall. He also aims to “make out with girls who look like they have colds.” That was the plan, anyway.It’s hardly scientific, but quite effective. Slight swelling and discomfort in the throat and a lingering cough – not the icicles forming on the inside of the nose – signal success: Dan contracted bronchitis during a trip to Chapel Hill in November. (Remember, he’s a pro.) I could’ve went to sleep each night in a 800-fill Himalayan suit. I could’ve sucked it up for a few weeks and played video games in mittens. Instead, I chose to ignore Dan’s routine altogether.I made a huge mistake. This past week, I was stricken with the creeping death (aka the flu) and was resigned to laying in a fetal position on my couch for days on end. While holiday travelers and locals alike were enjoying the groomed cruisers and the town’s festive atmosphere, I was shedding damp T-shirts hourly and hung a blanket over a window with thumb tacks to shield my eyes from the penetrating sun. While most indulged in a few libations New Year’s Eve, I was downing Theraflu and flavorless soup. (If the label says made with real chicken, shouldn’t there be at least some trace of chicken?) Every inch of my body ached – even my hair, if that’s possible. It was pitiful, even more so than a typical week in my life. That’s saying something.What did I learn? Mr. Thomas is as knowledgeable about the immune system as he is with comma usage. I’m thinking he should write a book, or at least get a segment on Oprah. I won’t make the same mistake next fall.