When you get back to town on Monday morning, doctor, you can just clip this out and paste it in under the heading, "Patients's History."

I was all right when I went to bed on Thursday morning. When I awoke that afternoon, my throat was sore.

My chest was O.K. I was experienceing no coughing, no sneezing. No "ache all over feeling," as the commercials describe it. Just a sore throat.

I did what any sensible person would do. I gargled with scotch, every hour on the hour. By the time I went to bed, my throat was fine.

Unfortunately, it was necessary to suspend the gargling while I slept, and when I awoke on Friday, the consequences of discontinuing the medication were immediately apparent. I discovered that my sore throat had not only returned but had expanded into my chest.

Since this was my first cold since your friends re-engineered by heart, I phoned you to ask what I should take and what I shouldn't. Your nurse said you were out of town at a medical meeting or some such. "Are you in pain?" she asked.

I said, "No I just have a cold."

She said, "You have the flu?"

I said, "No, when everybody else has the flu, I'm the guy who has a cold. I can wait until the doctor gets back on Monday."

By Friday afternoon I was coughing and sneezing and running a temperature.

I felt so bad that I called the office and said, "Please get a funny piece off the wire and feed it into the computer for me. I may not be able to write a Monday column."

"Who is this?" Bill Maxwell asked.

"Bill Gold," I said.

"Oh," Maxwell said. "I couldn't place the basso profundo. You sound awful. Go to bed. I'll find something.

I hung up and tried a few bars of "Many Brave Hearts Are Asleep in the Deep." Maxwell was right. I did sound like Al Friendly, except that Friendly can sing "Many Brave Hearts" without coughing.

I got back into bed and slept for a while. When I awoke, it was dark. My throat was dry, and I was coughing.I got up to get a drink of water.

En route to the kitchen, I walked past my wife's TV as she was switching channels. I saw one-fifth of a second of a hockey game and thought, "that must be the United States amateurs against the Russian pros. I'll turn it on just long enough to find out how badly we're getting whipped."

I got myself some water turned on my own TV. (My wife and I use earphones. I can't stand her programs and she can't stand mine.)

The game was in the second period, and we were trailing, 3 to 2. But we were giving the Russkies a tough fight, so I decided to watch -- for just a minute, of course.

I wrapped a blanket around my legs and soon found myself engrossed in an emotional experience the like of which I have seldom encountered.

The intensity of the play had ignited a fervor in the audience that ws almost beyond belief. For decades, there had been building among Americans a gigantic distaste for the duplicity of the Soviet Union's leaders -- their shabby dishonesty, their sharp practices, their lust for power, their repeated breaches of solemn agreements, their insensitivity to the basic dictates of decency and their bald-faced lies about all things great and small, like the lie that their hockey players are amateurs. Now our decades of resentment were being focused on the Soviet hockey team, not because the players were themselves evil but because they were looked upon with such great pride by the evil men who sent them here. And when our players defeated the Soviet champions, they set off an emotional upheaval among millions of their countrymen.

At the moment of victory, I leaped up and punched the empty air with a sweeping right cross, meanwhile expressing my joy in such tumultuous shouts that even my wife switched channels for a while to marvel at the pandemonium that reigned on Channel 7. The outcome of a hockey game wasn't going to change the course of world history much, but it did carry a sweet symbolic satisfaction. Perhaps it was even an augury that there would be more defeats for the Soviet Union's leaders in the days to come -- and what a lovely thought that was.Those old men in the Kremlin have not had much experience at losing, and it is pleasant to contemplate the possibility that fate is about to remedy that deficiency.

In any event, doctor, the patient's condition was satisfactory enough for him to cheer himself hoarse. By Saturday night I couldn't tell whether I still had a cold or was merely suffering from an overdose of patriotism.

Not knowing whether I was sick or well, I had to come to work to write this column for Monday. However, I am counting on you to return on schedule so that you can tell me what a sick man I am. What I'd like is a diagnosis like: "Not too sick to read, eat heartily or watch TV, but much too sick to go to work."