How to Deal (and Stay Healthy) When Your Spouse Is Sick
There’s a reason this video, called “The Mom Cold Vs. The Man Cold” has been viewed 1,305,263 times on YouTube. Some scientists even devoted precious time (that surely could have been better spent grocery shopping, scheduling playdates or loading the dishwasher) researching the phenomenon of generally capable (usually male) adults falling to pieces when they’re sick. Their findings? Male mice, when stricken with flu-like symptoms, “had more fluctuations in body temperature, fever and signs of inflammation, and took longer to recover.” (Also, in gross related news, men wash their hands less frequently than women.) But let’s assume we are dealing with men here, not mice. And because leaving someone to drown in his own sweaty bedsheets does not make for a refreshed marriage, we have caregiving tips—plus advice on how to keep yourself well while simultaneously swimming in germs. Above all, remember: Just a spoonful of sugar helps…you stay married to someone who complains more about chills than you did about your episiotomy.
POUND ELDERBERRY STAT
An MD at a Pennsylvania urgent care treating us for the flu a few months ago recommended Sambucol (black elderberry syrup) to shorten its duration, plus plenty of Airborne and probiotics—and after a few days of reduced symptoms, this skeptic was sold. There are objective claims to back black elderberry’s immunity-supporting benefits. And even if you don’t buy those, legit research supports the placebo effect of supplements. Bottom line, the stuff tastes like Fun Dip and it can’t hurt.
Create a sick room
It may sound all “quarantine” but convince the patient your partner that your en suite guest room (or, if need be, your bedroom, which you should abandon without looking back) is actually a luxurious spa-like accommodation designed to help him self-heal in comfort and style. The bonus for him? A freshly made-up bed and two nightstands on which to stash water, soup, saline spray and ibuprofen. The benefit for you, per the CDC? Isolation from his wadded-up tissues, drinking glasses, toothbrush, hand towels (and soft moaning too quiet to be heard from the next room). Web MD reports “Some cold and flu viruses can live on skin and other things a sick person might touch—doorknobs, remote controls, faucet handles—for up to eight hours.” Line his trash can with a plastic garbage bag for easy, sanitary removal. Open a window to keep air circulating. Check on him often. But for the love of God, keep him away from your kids.
Go into self-care defcon 1
If you stand a chance of protecting yourself, you’re going to need ample hydration, sleep, healthy nutrition, meditation, panda journaling, the works. When you wash your hands, sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Nap like an Olympian. It may seem like you’re only taking care of one person here; it actually should be two.