Con Crud: A Cautionary Tale

You may have heard of it: the dreaded Con Crud, or, as it’s also known, Con Plague.

Con Plague sounds like a cool movie title, right? Except when you get it, the last thing on your mind is writing the perfect script to go with that title. No, you’re coughing, sniffling, sneezing, throwing up–When you’ve got the Crud, all you want to do is curl up in a corner and wait for the world to end.

It can’t really be that bad, can it? Well, take it from this Crud-ite: it sucks. And when you’ve got thousands of bodies crammed into small venues, it’s nigh unavoidable. There’s going to be someone who insists on attending the con despite being terribly sick. And the Typhoid Cosplayers are good at hiding it, too. Adept at smiling and posing for the cameras, cosplayers can mask their Crud with expert makeup skills and sometimes with actual masks.

Cosplayers aren’t the only perpetrators of the Crud; your Average Joe congoer could just as easily be carrying the Crud, stubbornly attending the con despite knowing that they’re sick and contagious. I mean, c’mon, you paid enough to get into the con, right? Why waste all the money just because of a little cough? And then there are the attendees that don’t even know they’re sick! Sometimes you can be contagious and not even know you’re a Plague carrier. How do you avoid the Crud when the infected are so hard to spot?

Well, for one thing, don’t do what I did: nothing. I didn’t take any prophylactic medicine, didn’t bring hand sanitizer (I mean, c’mon, it didn’t go with any of my cosplays), didn’t even keep on the lookout for nearby sickies. I just went about my merry way, happy to be among my people, my nerds, my tribe.

My tribe betrayed me. More than a week after the last con I went to, I’m still fighting off the last vestiges of the Crud. I’ll admit, I was stubborn; I thought it was “just a sore throat” from talking over the din of the crowds. I thought it was “just a cold,” that it would go away on its own. I thought I was above the dreaded Crud. Never have I been so wrong.

It started off with a scratchy throat, which can easily be mistaken for simple strained vocal cords. Have you tried to be heard on the convention floor over the hundreds of others talking at the same time? You’ve got to speak up. A lot. And it can make your throat a bit raw…raw enough that the Crud can hide behind it. On the third day of the con, I woke up with a hacking cough and clogged sinuses. Okay, so maybe I strained my voice a little too much. No biggie, right? Just take some of the cold medicine that my (smart) con roomie offered, and get back out there.

I should’ve realized it then: I had become a Typhoid Cosplayer.

The cold medicine helped, so I figured I had caught whatever it was early enough. Surely I wouldn’t get sick since I had taken something right when I first showed symptoms.

Ha. Likely story.

The Crud worsened as the day turned to evening, and overnight I got about, oh, an hour of sleep…total. In between catnaps, I spent my night coughing, sniffling, blowing my nose…everything but sleeping. I had used up my roomie’s stash of cold medicine and, being the genius that I am, did not have any of my own to take.

This made the long drive home (that’s right, I was on a road trip for this con) miserable. On the second day of driving, my husband and I found a pharmacy near the motel and waited for it to open, so I could get a good decongestant. There. All better….right?


It went on in this manner for several days. I’d try an over-the-counter medicine and feel no different, then stubbornly declare myself fit for work (when I really, really wasn’t). After a week of feeling like, well, crud, I finally caved and went to a doctor. My Crud now required antibiotics and heavy-duty cough syrup. Now, two sick days off work later, I’m finally (mostly) on the mend.

The moral of this story? Don’t be like me. Prepare for the Crud. Wash your hands every chance you get, not just after eating or using the bathroom. Carry hand sanitizer, even if it doesn’t match your cosplay, and use it. Take some of those over-the-counter prophylactics…I mean, vitamins and anti-cold medicine are a lot cheaper than most copays to see your primary care doc! Be on the lookout for carriers. And most of all, listen to your own body. If your body is telling you that you caught something, say, “Okay, body, I’d better rest and skip this next photo-op/autograph/panel.”

And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t be “that guy”…you know, the Typhoid congoer who brings the Crud to con? Yeah, it’s expensive if you have paid for all of your fun up front, but do you really want all that Crud on your conscience?

So stock up on Vitamin C or Zinc or Echinacea or whatever is supposed to help keep Crud at bay. (I clearly don’t know what to use, or else I’d have used it! If you’re worried about Crud or think you have Crud, see your doctor for advice and treatment.)

Now put on that sanitizer, zip up those cosplay boots, and enjoy the con!


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