Yucky Faces and Weird Sounds



I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  We humans are so silly – and besides that, we’re fun to watch.  Here’s what I mean.  The next time someone in your family – or one of your friends or associates is sick with the flu or a bad cold, take a few minutes to pay attention to how they are handling the illness.  Chances are that every once in a while you’ll get to view some really cool facial contortions and I’d also bet that at the same time you get to listen to at least a few sounds that would make a slug’s skin crawl.  (I know - I’m warped but just stick with me here for a minute.)


Whoa… just look at that face!  The sad, puppy-dog eyes, furrowed brow and saggy cheeks.  And that mouth… turned down corners – sometimes WAY down – and pitiful pouty lips.  Gives you that urge to scratch ‘em behind the ears, doesn’t it?


I think the sounds oozing out of this poor pitiful creature are the best part though.  Urrrrroooooggggggg….   Bllllaaaaaaggggggg….   Yuuuuurrrrrrggggghhhhh….  I veel shidddy.   Snork.  Snuffle.  Snraaaaacccck.  Blaaaaaffft,  blaaaffft  Uuuuurrrrrrrpppp….   Ahhhhaaagggghhhhh,  ahhhhaaagggghhhh  Wheeze  sniff  graaagghhhh!!!  I reawy veel shidddy!!!


Pretty cool, huh?  Isn’t it amazing that we humans can make so many different sounds come out of our faces?


Nah, I’m really not picking on sick folks here.  Let’s face it - it’s no fun to be ill.  And it’s absolutely normal to be something less than your cheery old self - maybe even to the point where you’d just as soon curl up in a little ball and hope to hell no one is stupid enough to try to talk to you.  We need rest.  We need time to heal up.


However… in my limited research on this, I’ve not found a single shred of scientific proof that cold and flu viruses carry a DNA coding that will produce yucky faces and weird sounds in humans.  Aches, upset stomach, coughs, runny nose, watery eyes, fever – yes.  Yucky face – no.  This means then, that many of the displays of illness that we observe from time to time are nothing more than an individually generated reaction to feeling crappy.  It’s a person’s way of signaling to everyone around “Hey, I’m sick!  I feel terrible!  Pay attention to me!  How about some sympathy here?  I could use a little more pampering!  Now, please!”


So is there anything wrong with this approach?  Well, yes and no.  These facial contortions, slouching body posture and whimpering noises are simply responses that have been learned - likely at a very young age - and have been perfected over the years.  Maybe Mom or Dad used this technique to get attention or get out of work or the daily duties.  Maybe it was a reasonably successful way for us to gain permission to skip school or divert attention away from the new baby who had been demanding most of our parents’ time.  Hey, if it works when you’re five there’s a damned good chance it’ll work when you’re fifty!  Very often, it does.


The flip side of this coin of course, is the martyr’s approach.  “I’m so very, very sick, yet I’ll paste on this false smile and with puppy-dog eyes trudge bravely through the day!  You may admire me if you wish!  Please tell me that I’m a real trooper and that you really don’t know how I can continue on, considering how badly I feel!  Ahem… let’s see some compassion, please!”


Either approach will probably elicit at least an appropriate sympathetic comment or two from a soft-hearted bystander.  Success!!!


Attention seeking is not all that bad even though at times it can be a bit grating on the nerves of family members and friends.  The real downside to using this approach however, lies in its potential tendency to retard the actual healing process.  (A quick pause here while I remind you that I’m not a physician nor have I conducted extensive studies in this area.  This is just an observation – one old fuzzy guy’s opinion…) At the very least, it may tend to intensify the symptoms of the illness.  We’ll feel worse than we need to a little longer than we should.


I’ve found that if we can take a reasonably positive, middle-of-the-road attitude toward our illness it will overall be a lot easier to work our way through it.  I try to mentally differentiate between “me” and my old, ailing body.  “I” am not sick even though “I” will always be impacted to some extent by what is happening in my body.  The aging shell that “I” just happen to be living in however, has to go through its healing process and do what it needs to do to kill the invading buggies.  “I” will try to help the best I can by providing rest and plenty of liquids and will do my best not be get too cranky about the whole situation.  “I” will be patient and remember that in time, my bod will again be functioning fairly normally.


This may initially sound like a silly approach to working through a case of cold or flu but from my experience I’ve found that if I can mentally separate my mind (which even though slightly warped still can usually maintain a pretty good attitude no matter what else is going on) from the annoyance and discomfort of any physical ailment, the usual symptoms or effects of the illness are diminished and I can get back to my usual daily activities sooner.  Oh yeah, I’ve also found that there is less of a need for drugs or any of the over-the-counter medications that are commonly taken to reduce any discomfort from the illness.  To be honest, I can’t recall having taken even as much as an aspirin more than a few of times over the past twenty years or so.


Now I realize that there’s not much we can do about how other folks react to being sick – annoying as it may be at times.  However… the next time we’re feeling puny, it might be worthwhile to take a minute to look in the mirror – and listen to the sounds we’re making.  If it looks like there’s even a remote possibility that we’re indulging in a few theatrics which may or may not be amusing the rest of the world, it would probably be worthwhile to consider lightening up a bit.  The people around you would likely appreciate it and who knows, it might just help you feel better…




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