Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Things to do when you're sick... and bored... and you're a woman.

As I write, I am feeling like death. Today, I have the flu. My stomach is queasy, my nose is running, I'm coughing, my eyes feel like they're on fire and I'm feeling general misery overall, and I have a general feeling wishing that I was dead.

With tissues stuck in my nose, I Googled "how to pass the time when you're sick" and there were a number of articles that popped up. I read them and wished I could take a marker and mark out nearly everything they said. For example, one said watch a chick flick. Um, what? The last thing I want to do is cry and turn my nose up from jogging to running in full blast mode.

I think it's pretty clear that the people who wrote these well intended articles, probably weren't sick when they wrote it. Since I am, let's see what works.

First off, I had to find something funny. I'm not talking hilariously funny like My Cousin Vinny or Liar Liar where your laughing fit will turn into a cough that'll send you running to the toilet for another nauseating round with the john. No. I had to find something mildly amusing. You know, something clever and something that wouldn't make me cry. My eyes are swollen enough, I don't need tears to make them the size of a colossal squid's. Well, okay, that's actually the eyes, not the swollen surrounding tissue, but you get the point.

I finally selected Gilmore Girls (Netflix). I've heard what a great show it was and how funny and clever it was. SCORE! That is a great binge watching show, sick or well. It did however have a few teary eyed moments but it's okay. It's not like Terms of Endearment. Gilmore Girls is definitely for women but it's a wonderful thing to watch when you're sick.

Actually, clean mysteries that don't move too fast are good. Normally I would recommend the BBC series Poirot (Netflix) or the other one Miss Marple, but the problem with those is that your head is awfully cloudy and so you may miss clues. Maybe. Heck, that may happen with Murder She Wrote but it would never happen with Columbo.

Really though, the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark's Mysteries and Movies channel are a safe bet for pretty much anything on those channels.

Another alternative is to read. Your choice of books is up to you. If you don't feel like going to the bookstore, you can always use your phone as an eReader if you don't have one. Again, I'd stay away from complicated books like anything Tom Clancy to tearjerkers like The Lovely Bones. Two chicklit books that are not tearjerkers are Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson and The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison. Neither are comedic but they are not overly complicated and are page turners. If I had to say which was less complicated, it would be the latter rather than the former.

Sometimes, when I let my head drop to read comfortably, my nose runs. Well, there's a fix for that. It's called Audible! You can get a free trial membership while you're sick and download a couple of books. Both of my suggestions are available but you can pick anything you wish. Oddly, I often like to have children's books read to me. Maybe it makes me feel like my father reading to me when I'm sick, but one good book is Pollyanna (there are several voices to choose from and one more I'll mention below). I love that book! How about Peter Pan or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The classic book ideas can be endless such as The Three Musketeers.

Again, your phone can run Audible so you can literally lay back in bed, all comfy, and listen to books. No commercials, no having to sit up in bed, no trying to hold a book that feels 20 pounds today, just the comfort of your bed and someone else's voice. Of all the suggestions, this is my favorite and what I've been doing.

For those of you on a strict budget, there is LibriVox.org. You can download mp3s of books that are in the public domain. Books like Pollyanna and Peter Pan are amongst those. Mary Anderson's reading of Pollyanna is amazing! I listened to Pollyanna when I had the flu another time. It was a salvation for me for two reasons. One, the book changed my life, two, it just made me feel better.

Now, before signing off, the nurse in me wants to make a few remarks on how to take care of yourself to help you get well. As mentioned, I'm a nurse and anyone who knows me knows this. I have discovered that I (and my patients) recover faster if we eat a high quality protein (I eat scrambled eggs) and get more than the usual amount of Vitamin C. I don't mean supplements. I'm talking about fruit, or 100% fruit juice with no sugar added. I prefer oranges and grapes as both fruit or fruit juice.

I also want to mention over the counter drugs, but first I have to use the usual disclaimer that you should talk to your doctor first. That said, I have also found that most patients get relief from simple medications rather than a bunch of mixed medications on the market. Morning and night, I follow package directions for acetaminophen and dextromethorphan. However, I also need an antihistamine. Not the ones for strictly allergies. Two mostly safe (again, your doctor needs approval) ones I take, that work for colds and flu, and following package directions, are guaifenesin during the day and chlorpheniramine at night. Each of these can be bought in separate bottles at both CVS and Walgreens.

Add to this a good decaffeinated tea. Honey and lemon can be added for flavor and it will also help the throat. The natural kinds are much more helpful than products claiming to have them already in the package. Some are true honey and lemon, but you have no control over how much, nor is it fresh.

If desired, you can add a little bit of liquor to your tea. Usually a smooth liquor is soothing to the body but it's all about moderation, in the end. Let your tea cool just a bit, then pour in a shot. It's relaxing and again, can be soothing.

A lot of people tell you to drink a lot of water. It's ironic because the point of an antihistamine, in this case, is to dry you out. If you replace it with a lot of water, then you're defeating its purpose. However, you may get a bad taste in your mouth or it may feel very dry. Keep your mouth moist with water or a minty tea, and use a lip moisturizer on lips and even under the nose, which tends to get raw.

If you're vomiting or you have diarrhea, then definitely increase your water intake and you may wish to even drink a form of electrolyte replacement like a sports drink, but without caffeine. If you're sending fluids out (such as the vomiting and diarrhea), then you simply must replace them.

Try to avoid milk or cream. It sometimes increases mucus production. This is a time when you don't want that.

Here's hoping you get well and find ways to help yourself get well. I'm now going to bed, to listen to the book, Double Indemnity by James M. Cain. If I finish that, up next is The Galton Case, by Ross MacDonald.

What do you like to do when you're sick?

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