Most comforting things in the world
October 20, 2009 11:25 AM   Subscribe

What are the best ways to comfort someone with a bad cold/flu?

My boyfriend's been ailing with a miserable flu for the past couple days. He's got constant body aches, a hacky dry cough, occasional fever, and dizziness. We've got him on lots of medication, and last night I made him a good lentil/garlic/curry/tomato stew.

He'll get better in a few days, but in the meantime, what's the absolute most comforting thing I can do for him? I'm thinking less in terms of medicines and remedies and more in terms of pure wondrous comfort - foods, drinks, lullabies, you-name-it.
posted by mthomps00 to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I think first you should talk to him about what he likes when he is sick. Some people like a lot of doting attention - someone bringing food, drink, cuddles and love. I'm one of those. Some people like to be set up with what they need - and then left alone. My mom is one of those. If I tried to bring her stuff all the time, it would really upset her and make her feel bad. So first, it's important to understand who you're dealing with!

Soups and hot liquids are great for dry throats and coughs - what about a mulled cider, or a spicy tea, or a hot chocolate with some extra things in it (like flavor shots?). I often like to be kept company - if he's one of those, you could offer to come in and snuggle in bed with him and read a book or share a movie. Being sick can make one fretful - what about soothing noises? I am not sure about music - you should ask him - but I like white noise sounds, like a humidifier running (keeps you from getting too dry, too!), or a white noise generator. An audiobook might be nice - watching TV can be no fun if your eyes hurt, and you may not want to hold a book - but an audiobook you can play with your eyes closed.
posted by mccn at 11:30 AM on October 20, 2009

Tiger balm. Gentle massage on the temples, nape of neck, chest area and soles of feet. Hot tea with ginger and honey. Reassurance and letting him sleep off the illness are the best things you can do for him.
posted by watercarrier at 11:33 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you live together? When I was sick with the flu last week, my (live in) boyfriend cooked and cleaned all week, made sure I was sleeping well, did my laundry, etc.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:33 AM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

-Watch cheesy TV or movies with him (and let him pick what to watch).
-If he's not grossed out by old-timey alcoholic cold remedies, a hot toddy or hot buttered rum will make him feel way better (for about an hour, and then he'll just sleep really heavily).
-Fluff pillows/make the bed (if he can get out of it)-- being sick in a messy bed feels worse than being sick in a crisp bed for some reason.
-Let him sleep when he wants to sleep, but maybe once he starts getting a little better, go for short walks around the block so he can get some fresh air.

So jealous of your boyfriend right now-- I've had the worst cold of my life since last week, and can't take off work. My sinuses feel like they're about to pop and I'm fantasizing about lying down.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:34 AM on October 20, 2009

Peace and quiet, maybe?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:38 AM on October 20, 2009

If he's stuck at home bored all day, go to the video store and bring him an entire season of a TV series he's mentioned wanting to watch. I used to almost look forward to getting sick because it's the only time I would let myself go through another season of The Sopranos. And yeah, hot toddy.
posted by dacoit at 11:41 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just got over a bout of the flu a month ago, and my wife was wonderful. Basically, her method of comforting was making sure that I didn't have to move unless I wanted to.

That and sitting on the edge of the bed with her cool hands, stroking my forehead. Man, that was soothing when my joints felt like they were filled with ground glass and my stomach kept ejecting its contents from both ends at about 40 kph.
posted by Pragmatica at 11:49 AM on October 20, 2009

If you have a fever, getting a massage from someone with very cold hands (dip them in ice water) just about feels like heaven.
posted by voronoi at 12:22 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

A few years ago, I had a virus that knocked me flat on my back in bed for a solid week, I had so little energy that I couldn't even lift a fork to my mouth. My boyfriend did everything for me during that week so that all I had to think about was recovering. Besides the obvious ones like keeping me in meds, food, and TV shows, he made little "nests" for me on the couches so that I could easily sleep wherever I fell, laid out fresh clothes and towels in the bathroom so that all I had to do was toddle into the shower then back to the couch, and let me nap with my head on his lap, with the TV turned down low, while gently rubbing my back. That was really nice.

Seconding the cold hand massages, my husband loves those when he's ill, on his forehead or back.
posted by anderjen at 1:07 PM on October 20, 2009

I like to be left absolutely alone. Everyone else out of the house, someplace else, so that I don't have to see or talk to or deal with anyone but myself until I feel better.

But that's me. The only way to answer this question is to ask your boyfriend what he wants.
posted by decathecting at 1:36 PM on October 20, 2009

Hot Toddy. (I just love when this question comes up!)
posted by HotToddy at 1:49 PM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Clean house. Fresh sheets. Warm, homey food. Back rubs and cuddling. And then to be left alone when I needed it. Also, a few paperbacks.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 2:37 PM on October 20, 2009

I'm home alone with the flu right now, and I would kill for a massage. My body is achey, but especially my back/neck/shoulders. Having those kneaded firmly, lovingly, and constantly for the next 10-12 hours would be nice.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:55 PM on October 20, 2009

I like lots of quiet, so that when I finally drift off to sleep I can stay that way. Also, nothing helps more than these for body aches - they really are miraculous!
posted by bahama mama at 3:21 PM on October 20, 2009

clean sheets. nest of blankets on the couch, with the clicker. A steady supply of ginger ale, tea, chicken soup, crackers. aspirin/tylenol/thermometer/cough drops. books and magazines.
posted by theora55 at 3:49 PM on October 20, 2009

When I'm sick, I love takeout Tom Yum soup, toast, OJ, and tea with honey and lemon. Empty the gross tissue-filled trash cans for him. Feed the pets/children, if there are any. Refill big glasses of water by the bed and the couch: I distinctly remember being SO SICK and waited on the couch for hours for my roommate to come home and bring me more water. I was thirsty but couldn't possibly remove myself from the couch to do it myself. If he is wrapped up in blankets on the couch, maybe wash them so they're fresh and clean and WARM. Your boyfriend is lucky to have you!
posted by teragram at 4:06 PM on October 20, 2009

Tea! Any tea with licorice in it will do wonders for sore throats. Or at least I've convinced myself that it is. Honey in tea helps too. Just the smell of things with honey in them always make me feel better.

Also, this is a little bit weird, but a lot of the things on this list, which is made for people taking care of people aftter an abortion, are good for general sick people as well. Especially the seasons of DVDs one. And popsicles.

If you are able to call his parent(s)/siblings/guardians (and he had a good childhood, etc), you might give them a call and see what Mom did for them as a kid. I think nostalgia remedies end up being the best sometimes.
posted by NoraReed at 5:05 PM on October 20, 2009

I haven't had the flu in decades. But when I did, I took it to mean that the sun was perpetually over the yardarm, as soon as I could keep anything down.

Whiskey in the morning. Whiskey at lunch time, and whiskey as the sun went down.

I don't think it materially altered the course of disease one whit, but it damned sure made me more willing to be in a sick bed.
posted by paulsc at 7:05 PM on October 20, 2009

Read to him.
posted by corey flood at 7:55 PM on October 20, 2009

Oh, and I swear by Throat Coat tea. Doesn't taste super great, so I usually brew a big mug with a teabag of Throat Coat and a teabag of some herbal tea that I like the taste of. Add some lemon, honey, makes your throat feel a lot better.
posted by teragram at 8:48 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

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