Why Do We Get Sick Before Big Events?

This question popped into my head today is I get ready to leave for the CanAm Flyball Championships tomorrow.  This morning I woke up with a sore throat and a stuffy head, which at first I thought was simply due to spending so much time on the phone coordinating things, but which now appears to be a virus of some kind.  I know I’m sick when something starts affecting my writing.  All else being equal I’m always concerned most with my writing output.  So, when I was unable to to put anything down when I sat down to work on my novel I was quite concerned.  Usually when I’m sick I approach my job like an athlete approaches theirs; yes, I’m sick, but I can play through it.  I’ve found that most of the time I can play through it even if the results aren’t optimal.  I am a bit of a perfectionist so playing through sickness does leave me a little bitter towards whatever results I get (I’m always thinking: “what would have happened if I wasn’t sick?”)  It still beats the alternative however which is of course getting nothing done at all.

Earlier this year I got sick right before I had a series of big speeches to give.  I thought that the time was terrible and I had that idea in my head that this was the worst possible time to get sick.  But, what if our bodies get sick at the worst possible times because they are the worst times to get sick.  Let me explain this in the following way: we know that stress affects the body and that sickness comes about when either we’re exposed to an illness or virus or when we’re low on anti-bodies.  My question is this: wouldn’t it make sense that we get sick when we need to be focused because our body is using resources elsewhere?  Think about it like a computer.  If you’re using a lot of memory on one task it’s tough to get anything else running at anything close to optimal efficiency.  In fact, it can be really hard to get anything done at all.  What if this is also true of the human body?  We know that multi-tasking results in us doing a poorer job on everything rather than us doing our best at one thing.  This could also be true of the body.  I’m not a doctor, but I do know that it takes a lot to knock me out of “writer mode,” which I’m in pretty much one hundred percent of the time when I’m healthy.  Perhaps journalists get sick before deadlines as well.  Just a theory.

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4 thoughts on “Why Do We Get Sick Before Big Events?

  1. Same here. My last premier as an actress I had to sing as well. A soar throat is the worst that can happen at a moment like that – so it happens. Of course. I think you’re right about the body doing it on purpose but I’m not sure why. Is it for focus like you say? Perhaps we undermine ourselves (out of insecurity) and we need to overcome this obstacle – just another monster to slay? In the end that might be a way to get more focus as well. I’m just thinking out loud but with a mind that goes everywhere (I’m the opposite of you – not Asperger but ADD).

  2. I’m running a half marathon in a few days and have just come down with a cold. There’s definitely truth to your theory. It’s a physical manifestation of your body’s stress and fear, but it’s also an escape from failure, an excuse for a suboptimal performance. It can in a way be a relief, a diversion, a lifted pressure, a reason for imperfection.

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