Feb 4, 2014

Posted by in Science

Science Says I Don’t Have to Work Today

Science Says I Don’t Have to Work Today

As usual this is hastily written, riddled with typos no doubt, and also I have a cold, which is perfectly scientifically sound reason for poor grammar.

I started to get a sore throat late yesterday afternoon.  I remember thinking, ‘Ugh, I’ve got a bit of a sore throat’.  Approximately six seconds later I was sneezing, snotty, shitty and had a headache.  It was the fastest moving cold acquisition of all time.  I eventually snuffled my way to bed at some ungodly hour of the morning (nothing to do with the cold, I just don’t sleep much) and then when I woke this morning to a living Hell of cold and flu.  It was like my well being was the Baltimore Colts and it’d just snuck off in the middle of the night.

Anyway, this isn’t a blog with me whinging about having a cold although I can see how it might seem that way thus far.  It’s actually about whether doing things while sick serves any purpose.  I’ve got some stuff I need to do today for Cosmic Genome that’s not entirely basic.  I need to get my head around pulsar arrays and supermassive blackholes in order to edit some stuff for the next edition.  I haven’t started it because I assume my cold addled brain will just make a bollocks of it all.  I can’t concentrate, it’s too hard, fuck off.  Also I feel yuck, I don’t want to.  And if I do any work on it, it’ll all be wrong and I’ll just have to waste time redoing it tomorrow.

So I thought, at least do a blog.  Then I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something today.  Before I started typing this the sum total achievement of my day have included eating (and preparing I might add) some toast, sending a couple of emails and, um, I watched a bit of telly.  So do a blog.  But I can’t, I’m not well.  I have the perfect excuse to just sulk off to the couch.

Which got me thinking.

When we’re sick with a cold and we don’t want to do anything, is it just because we’re run down and feel crap or is there actually reduced brain function from a cold?  If we just buckled in and pushed through the snot and the headache and all the horrible surroundings is the underlying brain still working at full capacity?  Is this a stupid question?  Is this the sort of question an idiot with a cold asks because his brain is being affected by the cold?  Or is it the sort of question you ask when you have a cold to justify why you’ve done nothing all day.  At least some research counts as working.  Right?  Science.

To the Googles.

It seems there was a study done into this by the Brain, Behaviour and Immunity journal a couple of years ago.  The research done in the UK said that the whole muddled, lack of concentration business could be a result of deep brain function itself rather than just the annoyance of snot dripping onto your keyboard or you need regular coughing breaks intercut with your coffee breaks.

Various things popped up like evidence that the brain had more trouble retaining new information during a cold as well as decreased reaction times and so on.  The research suggested that the ‘fuck off, leave me alone, I’m dying’ nature of a person with a cold wasn’t just down to the symptoms either but rather the virus fiddled about with neurotransmitters which could end up affecting the transmission of noradrenaline, choline and dopamine to you, the sickly one.  All of these makes sense if you’ve ever had a cold since noradrenaline deals with your reaction times and other studies suggest that choline is needed for the brain to code new information.  Whilst dopamine, amongst many other things, can affect your memory recall speed.

This was all present in the members of the study that tested has having a cold but did not exhibit the same level of symptoms. For example, Person A had the same cold as person B but whilst Person A’s nose wasn’t really that runny, and Person B’s was like a jammed on tap in an airport toilet, the cognitive functions were identically buggered about with.

The study goes to great lengths to point out that much more research needs to be done and this was just on study of a group of 189 people but still, it does seem to indicate the virus is messing directly with your brain, it’s not just you getting pissed off with the symptoms.

The lack of attention to detail in this blog then in terms of spelling errors and grammatical disasters is therefore not my fault.  It’s not me being all ‘man flu’ as some pillock will no doubt brand it.  My brain is being eaten alive by a virus and there’s nothing I can do about.  Science says I should have another Pop Tart and put the telly back on.

Further more Llyods TSB Insurance also did a study back in 2008 that said there were over 120 000 road accidents in GB that year that were caused by drivers who had a cold.  That’s as much information as I could quickly find, just the figures.  The key take away is that people with colds are braindead zombies and should stay on the couch being brought sympathy and Horlicks.  Ok, so the figures mean 100 000 people ran into a pole because they were sneezing.  It might be they all fell asleep at the wheel because they hadn’t slept because they’d been up all night coughing.  Or even that they weren’t watching the road because they were looking down fiddling with a Strepsils packet.  Back if we take the Daily Mail approach and just snatch the figures and don’t bother with anything else, it’s pretty clear that having a cold destroys your brain and so you shouldn’t do anything at all.  Also immigrants bring colds to Britain.

Anyway, the point is, what I have successfully done is wasted a solid hour researching this.  The problem is I have found evidence to suggest I am ‘too sick to work’ and that my brain is broken so I should just go watch telly.  Problem is, by getting out of my slump and doing this research and this blog I now feel a lot better than I did an hour ago and could probably get some meaningful work down now.  Shit.

Maybe that’s the cure to the common cold.  Forcing people to work.  Forcing them to discover there is a reason they shouldn’t be working then finding themselves in the same paradox I am.  Maybe placebo really is the answer.

Bloody Hell, to Hollands & Barrets, all of you…

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