Small Life Lessons from a Cold Sore


woman covering her mouth because of a cold soreCan we all agree that cold sores stink big time? If you have never had one – kudos to you, my friend.

Unfortunately, I get cold sores. I have since high school. But with diet, supplements, and other voodoo, I’ve been able to keep them at bay. In fact, I hadn’t had an “outbreak” in almost three years! Cold sores were a thing of the past for me! Take THAT, Cold Sores!

Until … I didn’t even feel it coming! Sometimes you get the tingly feeling somewhere around your lips, and you can jump into action before the ugly thing appears. Not this time. I woke up and BAM! There it was.

I should have known. Work had been uber crazy; we were in the midst of packing our house and moving in a very short timeframe; sports were starting, and with three boys, we lived in the car. Navigating an autoimmune flare through all of this was the icing on the cake. I was pretty much destined to get a stress cold sore.

As I navigated this unsightly beast, a few things came to me. Now, you might read them and be like Duh. Thanks for the obvious, Cheryl. But hear me out! Sometimes it takes the smallest thing to remind us of what is important.

  1. Take a deep breath – and accept. When we start to feel out of control – we tend to turn to what we CAN control. Thus I went to Whole Foods and practically bought them out of all the supplements that I know can fight the root of a cold sore. I came to when my husband said, “Uh, I think you have enough. Don’t you?” I looked down to find my arms overflowing. I knew then I had to take a deep breath and accept. This cold sore isn’t going anywhere. I can do what I can to heal it and move forward.
  2. Patience is a virtue. Once the cold sore reaches a certain stage – there’s no speeding the process. You have to wait it out. In fact, the more you fudge around with it – the worse you can make it! And it will take longer to heal- no Bueno. Sometimes we want to fix something so badly that we end up making a bigger mess. Cold sores heal. Trying times will pass. I just had to stay the course and wait it out.
  3. Kissing is essential. Not with a cold sore, of course! For almost two weeks, I couldn’t kiss my husband or my children. I love to kiss puckered lipsmy husband. I drown my kids in kisses any chance I get. The inability to make that simple gesture had my love cup running low. I learned that I had been taking kissing for granted. That mindless kiss good-bye to your spouse as you pile the kids in the car. The quick goodnight kiss to your kid because you just want them to go to bed! I was reminded to put more stock into my kisses.
  4. A mark doesn’t define who I am. You know that scene in an Austin Powers movie where Fred Savage has a huge mole on his face, and all Austin can do is point and yell, “Mole! Mole! Mole!” ?? I was outrageously self-conscious of my cold sore. I mean, it’s huge! And on my face! And gross looking! I’m in Human Resources, where I interact with people all day. I was convinced one of my co-workers would walk up and yell, “COLD SORE!” at me when I showed up to work. How could you NOT notice it?!  I almost succumbed to the dark rabbit hole of negative self-talk. Almost. I’m still the same Mara with or without a cold sore. With or without that huge pimple. With or without whatever I’m self-conscious over. I’m Still Me.  

And finally …

  1. Take care of yourself! I knew I was running on low energy and high stress. Yet I didn’t pause to slow down and give my system a reprieve. I just kept going and going and going. And that cold sore? That cold sore was my body’s way of telling me to slow the hell down and take care of myself. All things considered – it could have been worse. I’m thankful for the cold sore that led me to get my head on straight.