Doing Sick Well

It’s been awhile hasn’t it?
To be honest, I’ve hardly been aware of the time passing. I know the past couple of posts have been “Yuck I’m sick” focused, but that’s where I’ve been livin’ so here comes another one.

We’ve been sick. It’s “just a flu”, a fact of life, nothing life threatening, so much less than ‘real’ problems, but…my word it’s been a bad one! The boys are starting to clear up now, but I’ve still got a good day of it left in me. It seems like this strain has really hit the mamas the hardest. Maybe the lesser sleep in our bodies? The greater amount of noses wiped? For me, the mineral deficiencies, pregnancy, and lack of ‘respite’ through my partner’s absence have all compounded it.

But that’s not what this post is about. What I want to share is the surprisingly positive points I’ve been learning these past several days. Essentially, how to “do sick well”. The funny thing is that I didn’t book these lessons into my schedule. A week ago my prayer request at Mom’s Group was “health and rest”. Hm. Ironic.

Anyways. Here are some simple, practical, and reflective things I’ve learned that will be of help to me next time ‘round, and hopefully to you as well:

Get over it.
Almost a year ago, we entered a very distinct time of ‘necessary reception’, ‘receiving from people cuz there weren’t many other options’. We had to get over our pride, preferences, and fears. We had to express need. We had to be open to receiving from others, knowing that we couldn’t pay them back in the same manner, at least not for a long time. Our season included receiving housing with extended family, financial support from inlaws, food from the food bank; gifts and expressions of support and kindness that required us to just shut up and accept.
Doing that, living like that, is difficult. I don’t ever want my family to be ‘takers’ (seeking out the kindness and resources of others just for the sake of ease or gain), but we did have to become receivers. Likewise, when my family is really ill, and when I just can’t do it all myself, I need to get over myself and say, “Yes, that pot of soup would be really appreciated”. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to return the pot full of reciprocal goodness. But as we receive, we are made well. And as we look for those to whom we can give, we are strengthened.

There are two key points to nutrition when a family is sick, 1) It’s SO important and 2) It’s SO difficult. I’ve learned that there are some things I need to have stashed away, for the express use of sick days (not to be used just when I’m behind or busy!).

–          Bone broth and Soup (home-canned would be best as it doesn’t require thawing), stew, chili, or other savory and ‘easy eating’ options that are comforting and nourishing.

–          And, when I know that illness is heading our way: lemon, ginger, garlic, honey, Kleenex, lozenges, and toilet paper. I ran out of ALL of these things in the past week and (again) had to call on others. Better to run out and get a good stash on the front end.

For me, I had the exceptional and unexpected blessing of a few women who were ridiculously generous with their soup pots. Those meals made a significant difference in our days. Outside of that, I added honey and butter to Knightley’s bottle, went through a full box of Christmas mandarins, and avoided all refined sugars, and sipped warm teas and broths whenever the desire arose.

Sanity Pack

I don’t love putting my kids in front of the TV. In our family, we prefer stories, crafts, outdoor play, and all that fun stuff. BUT…when my voice was shot and it was suddenly -20 and the playdough was dried up and Papa was gone…we were in trouble. I now know I need to tuck away a small bucket of things that are reserved for the unexpected. I plan to toss in some puzzles, some (well sealed) play dough, and maybe a couple ‘special’ toys.
This time around, we tried tea-parties, letter games, painting, chalk, and lots of bubble baths, but after day three we were definitely hitting up the movies. Now I’ve got some work cut out trying to explain to Jeremiah that this isn’t how our ‘normal’ days will be. His new answer for everything, “But I’m sick mama! We have to!” Great 😉


When our bodies feel ill, our spirits often lose perspective. We want to hear comforting words, we want to know that loved ones care for us, and we want to be assured that we are really as important as we think we are. However, as strong as those desires may be, they are as ill as the cough in our chest. Even in the midst of exhaustion or frustration, especially in the midst of those things, we need to let others be free of our expectations.
One of the most positive points in the past week was a series of conversations with my husband in which I finally laid bare my deep ache for this comfort, my ‘need’ of this affirmation, my growing resentment of him and his choice of expression. While a deeper reflection is better reserved for a separate post, in sum, I learned much.
Our role and opportunity (whether we be wives, husbands, mamas, students, whatever) is such that we can focus our gaze away from ourselves and live in a zone of giving, releasing, and contentment. As we give, we ourselves are filled and others are comforted. As we release others from our expectations and desires, they are free to grow and give themselves. As we chose contentment, even without ‘those’ words or ‘that’ gesture, we can actually be happy in our lives; as difficult or unexpected or unfurnished as they may be.

This is a long post. I hope it was helpful, in some way.

To close, let me leave you with the nastiest, most effective recipe I’ve concocted.

Nasty Throat Tea
– ½ lemon, sliced
– 3 cloves garlic, crushed (yup, THREE)
– ½ tsp minced/crushed ginger
– a pinch ground cloves
– lots of honey!

Put everything but the honey into a large mug. Boil enough water to cover all the goods. Steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the lemon (reserve for another round if you like), stir in loads of honey, then drink it all down. Be sure to swallow the garlic as you go.
It’s SO gross. It’s just so…nasty. But on my worst night it was the only thing that finally eased the apin enough for sleep.

Rest and health my friends….

2 Responses to “Doing Sick Well”
  1. Jamie says:

    Lots of good stuff. But one quick comment. “Receivers vs. takers.” Yes!! Such a good way to put it. So good to learn to be a receiver.

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