The power of a cold

felix's picture

I awoke at 4am yesterday with the concrete realisation that I would not be going in to work. A cold that was just a talking point when I had gone to bed had promoted itself to being totally in charge of my destiny for the foreseeable future.

What impresses me about sickness like this is the way it removed my normal desire for opiate intake. When I went to bed later that night I had scored only once (been using 3 times a day lately) and had only drunk a quarter of my normal metro takeaway dose.

And the one scoring event was due more to proximity and my partners' desire to score than from any impetus in me. I had to pick her up from work, my dealer lives near her work...simple really.

I remember a friend in the 90s who was a chainsmoker who went to hospital for a fortnight with some Hepatitis flare up. Yet for two weeks she did not smoke once, so fixated on her sickness was she. I am not sure how long nicotine withdrawal takes, but certainly the psychological effects seem to kick in quite quickly - yet her sickness masked the withdrawal enough to get through it.

What is it about the human body (or mind) that allows us to prioritise some things that are usually very important, as a lower priority when sickness occurs?


sayarsan's picture

This is a phrase used by Oliver Sachs when he discussed the body's constant effort to maintain homeostasis under all circumstances, even the most extreme where the body and the mind (pointless dichotomy) seem to engage in a titanic effort to displace the 'disease state' from our existence and the only way to achieve this is for the organism's ability to remain healthy to predominate over the disease state's ability to undermine that health. As I said, these battles are sometimes titanic but the instance above can serve as an example.
It would make sense to imagine that what the organism really craved was some rest from a tiresome routine. Methadone is a heavy opiate and heroin is a light one. If there was a deficit of junk the organism would know it. Such a bad cold? And what is the only known cure for the common cold? Yet you took the opportunity to rest from junk as much as from work. It could be telling you something about how necessary the organism considers the stuff while our minds can play what might seem like tricks to ensure it all goes well.
It is good to learn to recognize these states and use them as an opportunity. A way to work with the organism and not despite it should never be wasted. As your friend who was too sick to smoke. Hepatitis hits the liver and tobacco is very toxic so the organism will over ride a problem like tobacco in an instant to rescue an organ especially the liver which is the primary site for dealing with toxins. I had a similar opportunity when my mouth was assaulted so savagely I could barely eat or sleep for weeks. Bad habits from decades past dropped off like dead skin but if I hadn't recognised the opportunity I wonder would I have used the opportunity to full advantage?