A Cold Safari

Inspired by Adam Buxton

Day One: Waking up early, I yawned and swallowed. I could feel a burn of sorts turning into a tickle. It felt like how I imagine it to feel after swallowing a large pom-pom. I rummaged in the house immediately for Lemsips and cough sweets. No luck. Dreading a week of illness, I took two paracetamols. I then went about my day, trying to ignore the prickle in my throat and the urge to keep swallowing. By the day’s end, I felt a bit ropey. The slight irritation had turned to a stinging pain which I couldn’t seem to supress. I had to constantly clear my throat, much to the annoyance of my family, especially during the series opener of Masterchef.

Day Two: It’s confirmed. It was a cold and it was time to batten down the hatches. My mum brought me emergency supplies. It was going to be a tough week ahead, and I had to be prepared. I took some pills and then went to work with a bag of cherry menthols in hand. Driving that morning, I was visually a mindless zombie, hoping that some poor soul, scared of my appearance would do me in with a hatchet, putting me out of my misery. I sneezed, it was spreading to my nose. Luckily, I could put my pack of Kleenex to good use. My day at the school was a combination of parting seas of students by blowing my nose in the corridors and taking a lethargic approach to behaviour. By this point my throat was, with every irresistible swallow and bout of talking, experiencing waves of unbearable pain. I eventually made it through the day and fell onto my bed with relief upon returning home. I slept soundly that night, exhausted from the day’s torment.

Day Three: After a reasonable night’s sleep and a reoccurring dream regarding a yellow car chasing me in a field, I still woke up exhausted, unable to breathe through my nostrils and needing something to ease my throat. I needed a voice if I was going to have any chance of surviving the day.  Leaving the house, I was feeling slightly more conscious and the high doses of medical drugs were making me a little giddy. As I moved the wheelie bins out of the path of my car on the drive way I hoped perhaps, I had done the same with my cold and pushed it aside into a corner of my body where it could be feasted upon by a swarm of white blood cells. Work that day went well, I was working as an exam invigilator. I would be fine, if I didn’t sneeze or break into the mother of all coughing fits. Throat lozenges were a powerful tool that day. I made it home in one piece and continued my overdose on blackcurrant Lemsip. I don’t remember the rest of the night.

Day Four: Glaring into the mirror that morning, I saw only a spineless blob fish questioning its mere existence. God can’t exist, he wouldn’t allow such an obnoxious creature to endure so much suffering. This is how it felt to be Darwin’s weakest link. Its presence was simply a tool in which the stronger could survive and succeed in being part of its bloodlines evolution. The suit didn’t make the blob fish look any better that morning. Arriving at the school, I was told I would be helping a young boy through the day with his reading and writing. Fifteen minutes passed before he asked “Sir, are you a bit ill? If you are don’t give it to me!” My mere 5 hours in the school felt like a few weeks. Nearly falling asleep in the staff room over my toasted cheese sandwich, I decided a coffee was needed. I would later regret that decision as the beverage totally controlled my gastrointestinal tract and therefore created a toilet roll shortage in the house that evening.

Day Five: The birds sang, the sun shone and one nostril was free to breathe the incredibly underrated air of the earth. I felt today was going to be a good day. Again, I was to be an exam invigilator, easy but a long day. I had some ginger and honey tea that morning, it felt like a spicy syrup dripping down my throat. I wasn’t sure if it was helping, swallowing was not painful anymore but perhaps the spice of the ginger had simply replaced my discomfort. I also had a spoonful of some Covonia, afterwards I decided Jägermeister should sell it as a non-alcoholic version of their own herby liquor. After all, if has the same shaking of the head, squinting and big gasp for air effect. The day went well. Gradually I began to feel better, not dancing in the streets ‘better’ but livelier nonetheless. I got in my car and drove towards home, stopping at the supermarket for hiking supplies. They would never get used. As I got back in my car, I saw it. The green blob being excreted by my tear duct. I gave my eye a wipe and hoped it wasn’t the tell-tale sign of conjunctivitis. An increase in redness and a visit to the pharmacy confirmed my fears. I went to bed that night with cotton wool in preparation for a gloopy, sticky, blind morning.

Day Six: Darkness. No amount of eye lid strength could part the bond of gunk. I reached for the cotton wool, no luck. I cautiously get out of bed and feel for the door, then make my way to the bathroom. I felt for cotton buds and sure enough there was the packet. I managed to wipe away some of the eye snot using hot water. I gazed into my heavily blood shot and infected eyes. And I thought the week couldn’t have gotten any worse. Opening the curtains like a diseased Nosferatu, I flinched as the light sliced through my retina, leaving a stabbed in the eye sensation. It was Saturday, and it was going to be miserable. I put some eye drops in that I had picked up from the pharmacy the night before. The day consisted of my eyes fusing together multiple times, scaring any house guests and making my hands smell like a baby with the copious amounts of hand wash used that day.

Day Seven: The darkness was interrupted when I opened my eye with force.  Only one eye had opened and even now it had vertical lines of green gloop stretching from one lid to another. An ideal visual description is to describe it as the aftermath of an eye sneeze, if eyes could eject mucus of course. After cleaning them up I stared into the mirror and decided to take a picture (I have included it below). Danny Boyle would have paid handsomely to have me included as an extra in 28 days later. To go along with my misery my nose was pouring and my rotten ailment had made me miss a game of football with friends. As a result, the highlight of my day was using mint and tea tree Original Source shower gel. It really does tingle y’know. My only motivation to keep going at this point was tea and Jaffa cakes. However, some good news is that my nostrils had now cleared and an excellent air supply had never felt so good.

Day Eight: Fffffffftttttt… my left eye became unstuck from my pillow as I lifted my head. This left several eyelashes cemented in place. Same routine as every other morning, get to bathroom without falling down the stairs, clean eyes, wash hands with hand wash containing ‘fragrance de new-born.’ I decided I wasn’t going to work. I didn’t want to scare the kids nor give them this horrific infection. I wouldn’t wish this upon my enemies let alone a self-conscious, anxious and emotional 16-year-old about to do GCSE history. If the allies had given Hitler a dose of this poison, the war would have ended after 6 days. A self-inflicted gunshot wound to an eye would have made 1939 a lot easier. My cold had almost disappeared apart from a few coughs. I’m not going to lie I was in my sweatpants all day and did pretty much nothing apart from clean the gunge from my eyes every two hours.

Day Nine: Sunlight, a slither of gold shone through the gap in the blinds and across my face. I could see. I still had two enormous globules of creamy green sitting in the corner of each eye. I cleaned my face and went to the Kitchen. I had crumpets on my mind and promptly toasted a pair. Alone, I had to pick up the courage to do the unthinkable. If there’s something that the general population can do that I cannot, its putting my own eye drops in. The narrative usually ends in me squinting and acting like a cat in the bath. However, on this occasion, I managed to get a full drop in each eye after two attempts. Things were looking better; my eyes were better and smelling of mint and tea tree I was ready for the day. The day was a long one but ultimately, I felt like I was incredibly close to a full recovery. I was amazed that my consistent washing of hands had kept my eye contagion to myself.

Day Ten: Waking up I felt great and back to normal. I went to work and knowing I wouldn’t shock any students I felt confident I did a fine job that day. Later at home, my mum showed me her eyes and sure enough, I saw in her two eyes an intense redness and milky green gloop spouting from her eye.


Conjunctivitis is hell. Mr. Danny Boyle, I charge around £120 a day to star in any future zombie flicks.

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