So I’m recovering from that nasty cold that’s going around. It hit me pretty hard, so I’m taking prescription medications, and over-the-counter remedies, and herbs, and rest, and plenty of fluids. And that’s just fine: I’m getting better.
But a friend of mine, who had the exact same thing, was spending the weekend with some very nice people who told her that her prescription meds were nasty, and the Gatorade she was drinking because it was the only think she could keep down was nasty. It took her a while to shake off their influence and go back to doing things that actually worked. I’m not saying that she’d have avoided that trip the the ER if she hadn’t listened to them, but she might have.
So I have a few suggestions for all you readers out there…
What to Do When a Friend is Really Sick
- Get them to a doctor. Just do it. Do it now. Expect that both you and your friend are in denial. Push right past it.
- Learn the difference between prevention and cure. Prevention is important. Exercise is good for your heart. But only an idiot would get up and run around the block during a heart attack!
- Learn the difference between emergency care and palliative care. Palliative care is there to speed up a normal recovery that’s already under way, or to make the recovery more comfortable. Deterioration below what you’d get with an ordinary cold calls for a doctor. It’s fine to play doctor for your own palliative care and for prevention: we all do it. Just don’t play ER.
- ABC’s. Airway, breathing, circulation. That’s the order in which an EMT checks to see what needs to be done to keep you alive. To a layman, this boils down to “are they breathing okay?” Note that “breathing” is on this list and “healthy eating” isn’t.
- If someone is deteriorating and has trouble breathing, it’s an emergency. Don’t fart around. Call an ambulance or go straight to the ER. Immediate Care centers aren’t good enough — they’re for ditsy stuff like colds and sprained wrists. Grandma’s home remedies and denial aren’t even in the running.
- Don’t encourage people who are obviously sick to throw their meds away. The world has enough maniacs already. If you think they’re sick because of the meds, you can ask them to call their doctor to compare symptoms and side effects. But if you just don’t like meds, knock off the deathbed conversion thing.
- If they’re getting doctoring, what they need is nursing. There’s a whole industry devoted to second-guessing doctors, because there’s a huge pile of money in it. There isn’t any money in helping a friend out, doing their chores, being encouraging and companionable, and checking in on them frequently. But that’s what they’ll need most, once they’ve seen the doctor.
When to Use Alternative Methods
Alternative methods are usually milder and are often slower-acting than conventional methods, with effects that build over time. So taking an alternative remedy whose results have a slow onset, like Omega-3 fish oil, isn’t going to do much for a problem that’s only going to last a short time. Some work well in the short term — I especially like Valerian for back pain and insomnia — but most healthy alternatives are long-haul things.
The same goes for diet. If you’re not allergic, diabetic, or suffering from celiac disease, falling off the wagon for a day or a week or a month is no big deal. You just climb back on again when you can. So if your tummy can’t handle whole grains or raw milk, there’s nothing wrong with sustaining yourself on whatever works until the trouble passes, which for me is ginger ale and saltine crackers.
I live in the country, which is a good healthy lifestyle choice, and we raise a lot of our own food, which is another. And I routinely take many of the usual herbs. And when I get sick anyway, I go to my doctor.