Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Perspective
Avoiding The Christmas Bug

- By: Rhonda Sandau

No one likes to get sick: the runny noses, aching joints and bones, and the dry cough are never enjoyable symptoms. For many people having a cold is a pain in the butt, but life goes on. For an athlete, getting sick can be a huge set back to a year of racing. Most people are able to go on with their daily lives when they catch a bug. They can make their way to school and sit through a class or two, and they can usually make it through a day of work no matter how uncomfortable it is. When a ski racer gets the smallest cold, their daily routine is put on hold as training is replaced with full days of recovery until the bug is completely gone. Getting back into “shape” after being down with a cold is the second half of the battle.

Winter is probably the most common season for ski racers to get sick. I find that the most difficult time for me to fight off colds is Christmas. The months leading up to Christmas take a toll on me. To begin with, my body has to adapt to the high volumes of intensity from racing every weekend. The traveling, sleeping in an unusual bed, eating in restaurants and being around large numbers of people all contribute to the stresses put on my immune system. It seems to me that with all the “chaos” associated with racing, my body doesn’t have time to get sick. However, as soon as I come home and relax on my couch the Christmas bugs attack.

I have to admit, perhaps the Christmas holidays aren’t quite as relaxing as they seem. While my training intensity slows down, other activities fill my time. The holiday season often requires that I head to the malls and finish my last minute Christmas shopping, only to have the cashiers sneeze as they hand me my receipt. Then there are the social gatherings where everyone is coughing. Best of all is celebrating the holiday with my family, whom I love, but can never be too sure about how clean their hands are! No matter what I do, germs surround me and after a hard road trip of races, followed by a couple of busy Christmas preparation days, it is a struggle to stay healthy.

Each year I have come up with a few new methods to fight the Christmas bugs. The obvious is constantly washing your hands, but now I have discovered something even better: “One Step Hand Sanitizer, kills 99.9% of germs without water”. (I guess that means that for every one thousand cashiers who sneeze on my change, I will only get sick once.) Another method of avoiding germs that I have developed is using my jacket sleeve as a bacterial shield for my hands; I now open and close public doors without touching the germs. A yet untested method of fighting off the bugs is the face mask, as bizarre as it sounds and may look, it might be the only solution to avoiding the germs of a sick passenger sitting next to me on the airplane!

My germ avoiding tactics are still not perfected, as I did have a cold for a couple of days over Christmas. However, each year I am getting better at fighting off the Christmas bugs and staying healthy! Hopefully next year the bugs won’t even have a chance to infect me!


Rhonda would like to thank her personal sponsors:

Denali
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