Song writer Frank Loesser wrote the now politically incorrect song titled, “Adelaide’s Lament,” for the Broadway musical, “Guys and Dolls,” which first came out in 1950. In the song he refers to the stress a woman faced (back in the day) who had not yet found a husband.

So much stress in those days that, “A person could develop a cold. La grippe. La post-nasal drip. With the wheezes. And the sneezes. And a sinus that’s really a pip!” It also said, “You can spray her wherever you figure there’s streptococci lurk. You can give her a shot for whatever’s she’s got, but it just won’t work.”

So, my 7-year-old Petri dish grandson developed a cold. He passed it on to pretty much everyone he knew including his first-grade significant other. That cold ran through his house like California brush fire until it landed safely in his grandfather’s nose. Unlike 1950, however, a cold is no longer a cold. You see, I had two important meetings coming up, and I was supposed to teach a three-hour leadership class on Friday, and I surely didn’t want to infect anyone with whatever is going around.

I drove to the local Rite Aid and bought a quick COVID test, which came up negative, but how dependable are the quick tests? My son had had two negative tests, and when the PCR came back, it was positive. Consequently, I masked up for the meetings and kept my distance. It was not until the night before the leadership class that things got tense. You see, after having had a slightly sore throat, and sneezing my way to oblivion, I developed a fever. That’s when I decided to go all out and find out what the heck was going on with my body.

Now three years ago that would have meant, take it easy, blow my nose, drink plenty of fluids, take Tylenol as needed, get plenty of rest, and chew on some vitamin C tablets. But today we have to be concerned about COVID, flu, strep throat, a strep blood infection, and even Lyme disease. Having had a strep infection from a 32-year-old root canal earlier this year, the possibility of a reoccurrence and 42 days of IV antibiotics was still on the table.

The other thing that is different now is the hospitals are full, and they usually can’t let you in if they’re testing for COVID, or you think you might have COVID. So, all of these tests that I described for all of those potential ailments had to take place in a 30-degree parking lot with dainty snowflakes drifting slowly from the sky. Let me be clear: I was in my running, heated car, but the laboratory technologists and nurse had to stand outside my car in their lightweight scrubs while they swabbed my nose, drew my blood five different ways from Sunday, and did all the things they had to do to rule out these numerous potential invasive bugs.

During my first year of teaching, I had nearly 150 students in my marching band. I alone would load them into five school buses with only me and the bus drivers as chaperones. My last year of teaching I had 120 students, an RN on every bus, parents on every bus, a briefcase filled with the prescription drug permission slips for each student, and parental permission to allow a student to be treated at any emergency room. Oh, and did I tell you? That was 1979.

Now, 80% of the deer in Iowa have been diagnosed with COVID, and it may be cross-over COVID. That could mean that for the first time, deer might be thinning the human herd rather than humans thinning the deer herd.

What a complicated world we live in because “a person, could (still just) develop a cold.”

Nick Jacobs of Windber is a health-care consultant and author of two books.

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