What To Do When Your Friend Is Really Sick

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.

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this issue. Most of my posts are based on input from people like you, so leave a comment below!

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, is an expert on free-range chickens, and is a semi-struggling novelist. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years. In addition, he holds down a day job doing technical writing at Workspot.

One thought on “What To Do When Your Friend Is Really Sick”

  1. Hello Robert, You seem like a reasonable person who would consider some comments on your blog position, so here it goes..

    I wish I could count on only one hand, the number of people I know personally in just the last 2 years, who died before their time because of doctors. I’m with you, don’t get me wrong, there is good reason to run for help with certain symptoms.. stroke, shortness of breath and so on. But prevention still IS the rule;
    VIZ: There’s Krista, my German neighbor who used to wave to me sweetly every day when she walked her Llasa Elvis past my house. On her birthday last year, she took a dose of prescription pain killers (for her arthritis pain) and took to bed to rest before her party. It was the 2nd time she’d taken them, and her husband said, they made her feel nauseous. This time she never woke up. Then there’s Dr. K, the man who taught me to drive dog sleds in the 70’s upstate NY, a well beloved community doctor, who succumbed to his own ‘anti depressants’ and committed suicide in 2013. The rate of people who do so, is driven up exponentially on psychotropic medications but doctors continue to hand them out like candy.. Then there’s all of my friends who listened to their doctors and fully vaccinated their children.. who are now autisic as a result..

    Then there’s my son and I. As a single mom, self employed, I can’t afford to go to doctors.. so I don’t. (except, as you mentioned if for an emergency). Happily, there haven’t been any.
    So my son and I eat organic, and treat ourselves with herbal preparations when we’re out of sorts, AND avoid; meds of all sorts, over the counter or not, vaccines like the plague, and the doctor’s office.

    Here’s the result.
    Nikolai is 16 now. He’s never had an ear infection, has no allergies, no ailments and has not been sick a single day since he got over chickenpox at 6 years of age.
    I’ll be 59 this year, don’t watch my diet, don’t work out at all, take no pills -as I said – and I have not been sick in 25 years. Fact is, I’ve not been to a doctor since a bike accident in 1979 except for Army checkups. Oh, yes, the only time I’ve ever had the flu was when the Army gave me a flu shot in 1978. Nick’s never had the flu. (Thanks to getting meeting Christ at age 20 – 2 things I gave were meds and television)

    It’s not my gene pool mind you. My 5 siblings have all had multiple surgeries, have multiple ailments and are on myriad medications, because they go to doctors and do as they’re told.

    If you can find anyone who takes medications and goes 25 years at a time without a cold, I’ll reconsider my conviction, that the best way is without the pharmaceuticals.
    Victoria Bingham

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