I’ve had a lot of surgery in my life, and I’ve had a lot of colds. No doubt about it. I’d rather have surgery than a cold.
With surgery, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. You’ll have some rough days initially, and then every day will be a little better than the one before. With a cold, the future is unknown. You could be better in a week, or the cold could linger. It might look like it’s leaving, and then resurface with a vengeance or morph into an infection. With surgery, you’re given antibiotics to keep you from getting an infection. With a cold, you have to prove you have an infection before you’re given antibiotics, and by then you feel awful.
With surgery, people are very sympathetic. They express concern; they visit you in the hospital or at home. They may even bring you a gift! With a cold, people avoid you. They may even disinvite you to an event (“I’d rather you didn’t come if you’re sick”). A cold is very isolating.
With surgery, people are complementary. “You look great” (when they see you) or “You sound great!” (on the phone). With a cold, people are brutally honest: “You look awful” (in person) or “You sound terrible” (on the phone). Really, would you ever say those things to anyone if they didn’t have a cold?
With surgery, people expect you to take time off, and you allow yourself this luxury as well. With a cold, you soldier through (although you feel awful), because after all, it’s just a cold.
With surgery, the only one whose health is impacted is you. With a cold, you bear the burden of possibly infecting someone else. Colds are riddled with guilt — before hand, in case you infect someone, and afterward, when you have infected someone. The loving spouse who nursed you tenderly now glares at you. “It’s not your fault,” he says, but means the exact opposite: “You did this to me.”
Unlike surgeries, colds don’t leave a scar… at least not one you can see. But I think they humble our soul. We are felled by something so common and seemingly mundane. When we are finally better, we luxuriate in simply feeling well again and our spirits soar.