Cold season is on the way and everyone is in survival mode to get through this tough season. We all have our unique needs and coping methods when dealing with sickness. I’ve tried a few different things and after years of experience I’ve put together the ultimate list to prepare myself to get through most illnesses.
Something soft against my throat that doesn’t contain dairy or heavy spices. This can be tricky, but I’ve found a few things.
Tons of Hotdogs
Chicken Noodle Soup
Pasta & Sauce
Which I eat will vary depending on how much of an appetite I have. Worst case scenario is fluids only (if it’s more like a flu), but food-wise I can work my way up from soup to noodles to hotdogs as my appetite builds. Spaghetti is good, as well as any kind of pasta that’s soft against your throat, combined with some sauce that’s not too spicy and makes it go down smoother. As you transition from the sore throat stage to the runny nose stage, you’ll find that everything mysteriously tastes saltier. This can make noodles and chips and things more enjoyable.
Of course you’re supposed to drink tons of Water, but I only drink pure water as a worst case scenario since it does very little to sooth my throat. When my throat is really bad I find carbonated drinks work a lot better as the sensation distracts from the pain.
Lots of Ginger Ale
I used to find that beer in a glass with ice and sipped through a straw was the most soothing drink. But I’m also cautious about how much alcohol I consume in a day. I recently found ginger ale is even more effective, and I don’t have to be as restrained with those. In a glass with ice and sipped through a straw still seems to be the best way to sooth the throat. I know it sounds weird using ice, and I don’t know the science behind it, I just find it’s better. The Gatorade is mostly for cases where I’m too sick to eat food, since it contains nutrients my body would usually get from food. I’ve been told Orange Gatorade is best for those scenarios as it contains more nutrients. Although if I’m doing that badly that I can’t keep food down, then my preferred Gatorade would be Blue since the flavour doesn’t remind me of any food and therefore my brain can only interpret it as a drink. If I’m that bad off that I’m throwing up food, then I don’t want to drink something that feels like liquid food.
A Butt-Load of Fisherman’s Friend (Regular)
I try to keep some Echinacea on-hand all the time. Once the cold has actually taken hold I don’t find it helps much, but if I recognize the symptoms early enough and take some right away I have noticed it sometimes keeps the illness at bay. It may also help to take it at the end of a cold just to make sure it doesn’t re-surge.
Nyquil is a great sleeping aid. I find it takes about 15 minutes to kick in, so I try to finish off whatever I needed to do that day before then. I know there’s cherry flavoured, but I get green Nyquil when I can because, just in case I have unexpected coughing fits or vomiting during the night, I really don’t want to see red coming out of my mouth unnecessarily. Benylin helps suppress the coughing fits if I absolutely need to go out somewhere. Unfortunately I think Benylin only comes in cherry.
Fisherman’s Friend has become a regular traveling companion of mine. There are quite a variety, and unfortunately it is difficult to explain exactly which one I mean by “Regular”. I used to get the flavoured kind, but they’re made differently and I find they dissolve when I have to drink something carbonated at the same time. The “Original” is the white bag – that stuff is super-strong and only recommended when you really need it. It may be good to pick some up just in case. The “Regular” is like the “Original” but not as strong, so sometimes the “Original” is also called “Extra-Strength” which is weird because it’s the original so it can’t be stronger than itself. It would normally be easier to just call Regular “The Yellow One”, but you can’t because there’s another yellow bag that’s lemon-flavoured. So unfortunately you just have to read the package very carefully.
Quick and Easy Access to a Bathroom
A Designated Barf Bowl (for when bathroom access is not quick enough)
Lots of Tissues (or in my case I find Toilet Paper is easier for cleaning a runny nose)
Heater turned slightly up for sauna effect
It is of course preferred that the Barf Bowl be something that has been demoted from one that will ever be used for food again, just for psychological purposes. If you can manage it, turn the heater up just a bit more than your normal comfort level. Sweating it out is a good way to get rid of a cold (if you’re not sharing the room with someone). Of course if you’re sweating a lot then pair it up with extra showers.
Boredom is an intimidating foe when you’re sick. The last time I had a major cold I was too sick to go out, sleeping at odd hours so I hardly ever talked to anyone, and because of technical issues I also had extremely little internet access. I found myself at a complete loss of even just how to exist. A possible side-effect of being a sarcastic anti-social type – it turns out when I’m not complaining about the world having unrealistic expectations I don’t know who I am anymore. It’s important to keep your mind occupied, stimulated, but at a manageable pace, and preferably stress-free.
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Power Rangers on Netflix
If you’re a gamer, it’ll help to put on something where you know you can control the pace and keep it at just the level you’re comfortable with. The best game ever for this so far is LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Just start a new file and see how far you get before the cold is finished (and then beat the rest of the game afterward if you really get into it). It’s a simple design. It’s slow but fun. You have infinite lives so dying isn’t that big a deal. You can go your own pace. And all the while the unlockables still make you feel like you’re accomplishing something even while being as lazy about it as possible.
There are other games that offer similar benefits. The Sims allows you to sit back and watch other people do life for a while, but sometimes I find the time constraints stressful if I want to accomplish certain things. Skyrim has many different kinds of missions available so if you’re not up to it you can avoid high adventure for a while and just go mine some ore and build up your Smithing skill at the forge. You may get the odd dragon attack or bandit robbery, but if you save frequently then you can just back-track and visit somewhere else for the moment.
Normally when going through a tough time I recommend watching comedies to help keep your spirits up, but when you’ve got a sore throat chortling isn’t a good feeling, so I would save comedies for after the sore throat stage has passed. It may feel good in the runny nose portion of your cold, and chortling might help clear out some more snot. Until then, just something nice and easy and not too funny.
Shows you remember from childhood can be a fun, comfort-zone kind of thing to put on while you lack the energy to do anything but aren’t tired enough to sleep. If you have a streaming service like Netflix or can find a series of videos on YouTube, that would allow for optimal laziness because they’ll automatically put on the next episode when each one ends. I also have the entire series of Dragon Ball Z on DVD, but that requires getting up to change the DVD every few episodes or so. I gotta weigh my need for entertainment against my need to fall into the couch and not move for ages. Nobody should have to make that choice.
There’s a lot of good ideas here, Ben. Lots that I haven’t tried yet. Thanks for the advice as we head into the cold season.