Four weeks. FOUR WEEKS. *FOUR @#$@# WEEKS.*
That’s how long one or more people in this house had the flu this year, and it was four continuous weeks. The flu shot didn’t help. There were relapses. Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of diarrhea, puking, or other messes to clean up, but the exhaustion was overwhelming and it has just been a nightmare flu season, but at least I had the basics we needed on hand, in the house, when it all started.
So what do you do before your family is hit with the annual ick? How do you prepare when you know it’s coming?
Sick People Food
Most years, none of us get the flu. However, being mom, I keep things on hand for whenever someone is sick since most illness happens without warning. These supplies are good for the flu and lots of other illnesses. Basic food supplies include:
- Jello – So very many flavors to choose from in the regular grocery store, but I also have canned “jelly” from the Asian market. There are at least three flavors, but I prefer the almond jello. (“Jelly” on the labels seems to be a translation issue as it clearly isn’t something to put on toast.) To be honest, I have yet to try whatever the black and grass green jellies are. I’m not quite brave enough.
- Pudding – Again, so very many flavors to choose from, including homemade rice and tapioca pudding.
- Soup – Cup a Soup, canned soup, instant Asian soup (miso, egg flower), and of course crackers to go with the soup. As things get better, chicken noodle soup is the food to eat, although tomato soup with grilled cheese is good as well.
- Gatorade – Many households keep Pedialyte on hand (we do have some powdered Pedialyte), but we prefer Gatorade when we’re dehydrated.
- Ginger – Ginger ale, ginger candy, ginger gum…for nausea, ginger is a classic choice for a reason. It works.
Basic non-food supplies include:
- Barf buckets – They look a lot like jugs to hold a gallon or so of drinks, but the lids went missing years ago. They have handles, are easy to clean, and big enough to hold any sick thrown up before you (or your kid) can make it to the bathroom. Normally, there is one in each bathroom so we can find it quickly when someone gets sick.
- Thermometer – Obvious, but important. There are single use thermometers as well as more expensive ones. This expensive one is the model most of our doctors have used.
- Ice Packs – Again, obvious, but important.
- Washcloths – Most people have them, but they are important when someone has a fever. A cold washcloth across the forehead, torso, or other over-heated area can help lower a fever, as can a cool bath.
- Epsom salts – These are incredibly, insanely, cheap but are practically a miracle cure for muscle aches and pains.
- Fever reducing medicine – However much you think you need on hand, double it. Then check to be sure you have that amount in both Tylenol and Motrin, and in children’s and adults versions.
- Cough and Cold/Flu medicine – There are so very many to chose from, just make sure to keep a supply of whatever works for your family (adults and kids) on hand. I have sometimes found great deals on national brands at dollar stores.
When I started getting sick, I threw every anti-viral in the house at it. Garlic, elderberry tablets, Airborne, local honey, lemon, Four Thieves essential oil – if it was anti-viral, I took it. Some of it helped, but with that many things, it’s hard to know which. How can I be sure? I was sick for half the time everyone else was. Also, the first night I got sick, I felt a lot worse very quickly, then I started throwing anti-virals at it. Within a few hours, I felt a bit better, and I definitely stopped getting worse.
I highly recommend keeping at least some of these on hand and taking them as soon as anyone in the family starts getting sick.
- Garlic – I was desperate and felt awful, so I added it to tea, but I don’t really recommend that. At all. I also just straight-up took about a half teaspoon full of crushed garlic.
- Elderberry – Easy to find on Amazon or the local market, these are a well-known herbal remedy. Elderberry is available in capsules, gummies, liquid, whole berries, and more.
- Airborne – There is now a choice between effervescent tablets and chewable tablets.
- Local honey – If it is been processed, as most cheap honey is, then it loses most of the bountiful health benefits natural honey is shock full of. Unlike garlic, this is good and tasty to add to tea.
- Lemon – Lemon tea is the simplest option, but lemon wedges added to water or real lemonade made from actual lemons (not powdered drink mix or carboneted lemonade from a can) is another good option.
- Four Thieves essential oil – Add a few drops onto a cotton ball or pad and rub it on the soles of your feet. It smells a lot like cloves.
It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not hard to be prepared for cold, flu, and ick season. Have liquid food you can make easily and soup to eat when that’s palatable on hand. Keep adequate supplies, plus some extra, of basic medicine and anti-virals (food and medicine to fight off infections before they get bad).