Lions, Tigers, and Bears? No, it’s just a cold!

Lions, Tigers and Bears?  No, it’s just a cold!

Bob’s Story

Vermont winters can be very cold.  Last December, I wanted to save some money so I turned my heat down to 62 degrees F.  I didn’t know that would put my health in danger. Luckily, my son Tyler came by to check on me.  He saw that I was only wearing a light shirt and that my house was cold.  Tyler said I was speaking slowly, shivering, and having trouble walking.  He wrapped me in a blanket and called 9-1-1.  Turns out I had hypothermia.  My son’s quick thinking saved my life.  Now on cold days, I keep my heat at least at 68 degrees and wear a sweater around the house.     

I’ve had a bad cold for the last couple of days.  I thought I’d get through the winter of 2018 without getting sick but it was not to be.  I’m sure I got it from my step-daughter, who had a bad cold the day we traveled together to pick out her wedding dress.  As I lay wide awake last night with a terrible headache and aching muscles, I wondered how other people over the age of sixty are faring during this year of the flu epidemic.

According to the Center for Disease Control CDC):

  • The 2017-2018 flu season has the highest number of influenza-related illnesses since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which peaked in November that year.
  • In most flu seasons, the most affected groups very young children and adults over age 65.
  • In fact, the highest rate of hospitalization was among those over 65, but people aged 50 to 64 are being hospitalized at three times the rate of the 2015-2016 season.

Pretty scary stuff, isn’t it?

Our immune systems help protect our bodies from all kinds of harmful substances, including bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, and tissue from another person.  However, experts agree that as we age, our immune system does not work as well as when we were younger.  The following immune system changes can occur as we age:

  • The immune system becomes slower to respond. This increases your risk of getting sick. Flu shots or other vaccines may not work as well or protect you for as long as expected.
  • An autoimmune disorder may develop. This is a disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues.
  • Your body may heal more slowly. There are fewer immune cells in the body to bring about healing.
  • The immune system’s ability to detect and correct cell defects also decline. This can result in an increased risk of cancer.

Fortunately, there are some things we can and should do to protect ourselves, especially as we get older.  Myths abound regarding colds and flu so read the following – it’s the truth and you may learn something – I sure did!

Myths and Tips about Colds and the Flu

  • For most cold viruses, the nose and eye are the main points of entry, spread by coughs and sneezes or by touching an infected surface with your hands. It’s unlikely you’ll catch a cold from kissing or holding hands.
  • An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is better for preventing colds than anti-bacterial soap.
  • There are no controlled clinical studies showing any benefit of maintaining steady fluid intake during a cold. However, drinking normal amounts of water, juice, broth, and other clear fluids can help to loosen congestion and certainly prevents dehydration.
  • Over the past five or ten years, ­scientists have discovered genetic variations that may explain why some people suffer many more colds than normal.
  • Get the flu and pneumonia vaccines, and any other vaccines your health care provider recommends.
  • Get plenty of exercise.  Exercise helps boost your immune system.
  • Eat healthy foods. Good nutrition keeps your immune system strong.
  • DO NOT smoke. Smoking weakens your immune system.
  • Look into safety measures to prevent falls and injuries. A weak immune system can slow healing.



 by Shel Silverstein

“I cannot go to school today,”

Said little Peggy Ann McKay.

“I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,

I’m going blind in my right eye.

My tonsils are as big as rocks,

I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox

And there’s one more—that’s seventeen,

And don’t you think my face looks green?

My leg is cut—my eyes are blue—

It might be instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,

I’m sure that my left leg is broke—

My hip hurts when I move my chin,

My belly button’s caving in,

My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,

My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.

My nose is cold, my toes are numb.

I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,

I hardly whisper when I speak.

My tongue is filling up my mouth,

I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,

My temperature is one-o-eight.

My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,

There is a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is—what?

What’s that? What’s that you say?

You say today is. . .Saturday?

G’bye, I’m going out to play!


  1. Are you feeling better? I did not know that about the extra fluids not making a meaningful difference. I would think lots of sleep would be a big factor in staying well.

    On Sat, Feb 24, 2018, 3:22 PM Cindy’s Mindful Retirement wrote:

    > Cindy posted: “Lions, Tigers and Bears? No, it’s just a cold! Bob’s Story > Vermont winters can be very cold. Last December, I wanted to save some > money so I turned my heat down to 62 degrees F. I didn’t know that would > put my health in danger. Luckily, my son Tyler ca” >


  2. Dear Cindy,
    Glad to hear you are better, sorry to hear you were ill. Hypothermia is no joke. Good advice, though I do not agree with all of it. But for what it is worth, dehydration is a big problem as we get older, and we are less able to determine that we have a problem going on, leading to confusion and can become quite serious. Here is a link to that It is a good idea for all of us to keep some water nearby and have sips throughout the day. I do that as aI walk around the house. Take care and keep creating, JoAnn L&P


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