That’s how many times, give or take a few, that I blew my nose in a 24-hour period from Monday to Tuesday.

I can be that precise because when I felt this cold coming on overnight Sunday (sore throat), I stopped by the pharmacy before my work shift and bought six boxes of Kleenex on sale for about $4.50. Each box contains 126 sheets of tissue, and I used one sheet per nose blow. In about 19 hours, I had used a whole box and opened a second box.

Lesson 1: Once the cold symptoms start flowing, you can count on blowing your nose 5 or 6 or 7 times per hour during the first 30 hours or so.

I had to finish my work shift on Monday because I was doing a vital job and would have left the paper in a bind if I went home: there was no replacement.

So, there I was, blowing my nose 5 or 6 or 7 times every hour, sneezing and sniffling, and probably not doing my job as effectively as I normally do.

Personally, I feel very uncomfortable when sick colleagues come to work and sneeze and cough throughout their shifts — because it sounds awful, and because I don’t want to catch what they’ve got. But I do understand that sometimes it can’t be helped.

Fortunately, Tuesday and Wednesday I was scheduled to do jobs that were not quite as essential as my Monday shift, so I stayed home both days.

And I learned more life lessons by staying home.

Lesson 2: It might be better to let a cold run its course naturally than to take a decongestant drug that contains something like pseudofrin, which I used to do virtually every time I came down with a cold. But my experience with a cold that would not go away last winter — it lasted for several months — made me question my use of such drugs? Were they interfering with the process and prolonging my colds, and complicating the symptoms and producing bad side effects. (There were some bad side effects last winter, but I’ll spare you the details.)

Actually, on Monday night this week, I couldn’t sleep because my nose was blocked up so much. (I only got 30 minutes of sleep.) So, I did what I used to do: I took a couple of decongestant pills, and they had absolutely no effect. Which may have been a blessing in disguise. I decided after that to try letting the cold take its course without the use of such decongestants. Instead, I drank a lot of soup on Tuesday, sucked on some throat lozenges, and applied some vapo run to my throat and chest: traditional techniques for dealing with a cold. Oh, yes, and took some Aspirins for my headache.

And now, on Wednesday afternoon, I am showing a big improvement over my Monday night condition: Nose blowing is down to about 3 times a hour, and I still have about 10 sheets of tissue left in the second box. Coughing is minimal and effective (i.e. not dry so far).

But there are bigger life lessons, about reminders of things we take for granted.

Lesson 3: Having a stuff-up nose makes me appreciate all the more the times — the majority of times — when my nose is clear and is working as an efficient air filter. Think about it . . . And think about this:

Lesson 4: I am grateful for the oxygen that flows through my nose into my body, because without oxygen, I couldn’t be grateful for anything else.

So, oxygen is at the top of the list of things for which I am grateful in this life . . . followed by my nose, of course.

P.S. Maybe I’ll be clear enough by Saturday to attend a swim event with my naturism group.

— Jillian