I have been on so many planes, trains and automobiles in the last few months, I’ve lost count. What I can tell you is everywhere I’ve been (New York, Miami, London, Wales, Paris, Los Angeles), everyone has been sick. The flu, colds, the dreaded norovirus--this year was especially rough. Each plane ride sounded like 95% of my fellow travelers had escaped from a tuberculosis ward.
After surviving my travels unscathed (thanks, Purell!), I went to the SAG Awards and caught the cold that had been terrorizing the Mad Men cast, of which my boyfriend had been a member.
The day after the SAGs, I woke up with a sore throat. I hoped it was allergies. It wasn’t allergies. No, it was the most fashionable of all illnesses, the “Mad Men Cold.” I blame a certain female star, who shall remain nameless, for passing it on to me, but I will say that she managed to continue looking like a goddess throughout her sickness. And why shouldn't we all if we so choose?
As a self-proclaimed glamour girl, I absolutely refuse to turn into a mess if I get sick. I will not go softly into that good night. I fight it with not only homeopathic remedies and modern medicine, but a serious hydration regimen.
Being sick is very dehydrating. The more water you drink, the more fluid your mucous stays and the less chance of your cold developing into something worse. Plus, it will help keep your skin from screaming "I'm quarantined!"
The lady who used to color my hair when I lived in Miami taught me a holistic remedy from her childhood in St. Thomas: homemade garlic and ginger tea. I make a big pot of it, and drink it hot for days on end. Luckily, my boyfriend doesn’t mind me reeking of garlic, which you will most definitely do if you drink it.
For one big cup, you’ll need:
- 2 cups of water
- 1 piece of ginger you can hold in your hand
- 4 cloves of garlic
While you bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, peel the skin off the ginger root, and slice it into thin, coin-shaped pieces. Then, peel the garlic and slice it into slivers. Add the ginger and garlic to the boiling water, stir and reduce to a simmer. Cover it and let it steep for as long as you like. The longer it sits, the stronger and more flavorful the tea will be (and probably the the stinkier you will be).
I always drink it hot because that’s when it really feels like it’s helping my throat irritation. Also, I always drink the tea out of a Wonder Woman mug, for encouragement.
The tea soothed my throat (yay!), but my cold worsened (boo!). A cough developed, my nose got stuffed, an on came the chills, aches, fever--no bueno.
Now, I know over-the-counter medication merely masks symptoms, but hoo boy, are there some fantastic symptom-maskers out there! I have my carefully considered favorites for cough, headache, fever, body aches and blocked sinuses; but I have chosen these medications based on my allergies and personal taste. (If you want to try any medication, please read the label and warnings. You knew that, though, right?)
FOR THE COUGH
I freakin’ hate the taste of cough syrup. Usually it’s some sort of “cherry” flavor that tastes like a combination of melted lipstick, radioactive nuclear waste, and the liquefied remains of a berry-scented candle from the dollar store. Being sick is difficult enough without subjecting myself to that.
So, I tried Chestal Homeopathic Cough Medicine, Adult Formula, Honey Flavor, by Boiron, a big homeopathic medicine brand. It actually tastes like honey! It was a pleasure to take (all things considered), and it worked as well. It got my cough under control, and I didn’t turn into a terrified three-year-old when the spoon came out.
FOR THE COLD
I love Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Flu Formula, Multi-Symptom Day/Night Liquid Gels. I trust the brand, and I was willing to give this product a go, even though they aren’t the fizzy tablets of which I’m so fond.
The day tablets offer relief from nasal congestion, headache and body ache, cough, sore throat and sinus pressure. The night gels offer all of the same symptom relief, but they swap “sinus pressure” with “runny nose” and had no sleep aid. I can confirm they worked for me--I took the pills on schedule and began feeling better.
FOR THE STUFFY NOSE
Afrin No Drip Pump Mist (Extra Moisturizing) is M-A-G-I-C. Your sad, stuffed sinus cavities could be packed as tight as the entire Duggar family in a Fiat 500, but this incredible mist will clear you up F-A-S-T. If your sinuses don’t clear up immediately, I’ll be S-H-O-C-K-E-D. Side effects may include a compulsion to spell things out.
Seriously, though, this stuff works for me every time. Also, it comes in a few different types (Sinus, Original, Extra Strength) so you can find what works for you. I use Extra Moisturizing because I find my nose gets crazy-dry when I’m sick.
FOR THE IRRITATED SKIN
Speaking of a crazy-dry nose, after blowing and wiping it constantly, the area between my upper lip and nostrils gets red. Because I like being invited to play reindeer games, I combat this redness and irritation with Vaseline. It comes out as soon as the tissues do.
You know after a bad bout of sinus issues, you want to join the land of the living but are taken aback by all the dry flakes of skin hanging from your nose? Petroleum jelly will help.
Use it on your cuticles, too; the dehydration of a cold or flu isn’t limited to your face.
FOR THE SORE THROAT
If you aren’t big on smelling like garlic or using a stove, Chloraseptic Sore Throat Spray, Menthol, numbs the back of your throat and relieves pain in seconds. I swear by it when the tea isn't quite enough. (Read the directions about how to administer it, though--I bet you’ve been doing it wrong all these years. I was for a long time!)
I was in bed for two days, resting, drinking water, and taking my meds like a good girl. But there’s also a mental aspect to staying fabulous with a cold or flu.
My boyfriend’s mother had given me an elegant set of white silk pajamas with a matching dressing gown for Christmas, and it became an essential part of the emotional aspect of my recuperation. And when I'm stuck in bed, I make sure to have some great reading materials at the ready.
Since I have the "Mad Men Cold," I'm reading Janie Bryant's amazing book, The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men. It's all about her inspirations for the show's costumes and has all kinds of tips and tricks to help nonfictional people find their style.
Also, of course, a gorgeous picture book about Marilyn Monroe is in the stack, and some fierce Wonder Woman comics.
I may have felt pretty terrible, but thanks to my army of treatments, 1940s starlet sleepwear and inspiring literature, I never felt unglamorous.