A gruesome flu has hit Nashville - worst I've ever had. It starts in the ear and ends in the stomach. When it hit me, I was certain someone had made a Lonesome Liz Voodoo Doll, especially considering each body part it hit was accompanied by stabbing pain strong enough to merit at least Tylenol 3. Without insurance, or even with it, (since it's a virus and antibiotics really don't address the issues), what to do? Here are some home remedies I tried that truly did work. Hope they help some of y'all who have the misfortune to catch this, (or anything else like it), too.
It's not an old wives tale, chicken soup really does help. Not only because it's hot and easy on the stomach but it contains powerful, illness fighting stuff. Here's my recipe, learned from an old, Jewish grandmother, (the ones who know best of all how to make it). Easy and contains minimal ingredients but tastes like it came straight from a 5 star restaurant.
1 whole chicken
1 whole onion
Heart of celery (the yellowish, smaller stalks inside the crunchy green ones)
1 bay leaf
White pepper (it really makes a huge difference in taste to use white rather than black)
All you do is put all of the above in a large stew pot, cover it with water, turn burner on to high and boil for about an hour or until the onion is very soft. (Use the thyme, salt and pepper to taste - starting with about a 1/2 tablespoon of each, then, in the last hour of cooking taste it to make sure it's how you like and add more if desired.)
When the onion is soft, remove it and the celery, set aside (you can chop them up and add back to the soup when it's done but if you leave them in there too long they'll break down to nothing and wind up adding a bitter taste to the soup). Add more water to again cover the chicken, bring back to a boil.
Cook until the meat is falling off of the bones, (this may require poking the chicken around a bit to see if it falls apart easily on it's own), and the broth reduced to about 1/2 up the pot. Turn to low heat. when cooler, taste to see if more salt or pepper is needed. remove bones and skin.
You can add rice towards the end of cooking (bring back to a boil,adding some water first b/c rice will absorb a lot of the broth), chopped carrots, diced potatoes (again, add these in the last hour of cooking and add water first/bring back to a boil to cook the vegetables) -- add them AFTER you've removed the bones and skin. You can also make biscuit dough (below), break it in pieces and drop in boiling soup at the end for dumplings, (this is best with vegetables omitted). Dumplings are done when they float to the top and are slippery.
For cream of chicken soup, whisk in 1/2 cup heavy cream and 2 1/2 tsp dry red wine after cooking.
My ear hurt so much it literally woke me up at 2 am and had me in tears from the pain. Yes, tylenol helps but this pain was so relentless it would require 2 every 6 hours round the clock to manage. Problem is, you can't take that much tylenol. what you can do, however, is alternate taking tylenol and asprin. That way you still get (in this case semi-adequate) pain management without risking making yourself ill from too much of one or the other, (which will happen).
Since just that didn't begin to truly eliminate the seriously crippling ear pain here are two home cures that really did help massively.
1. Heat -- Heat REALLY took the remaining pain away. Sucks because you have to lie or sit with something hot on your ear but sucks a lot less than lying there unable to sleep from the pain. If you don't have a heating pad or hot/cold pack, you can make one by filling a sock with rice and then microwaving it in short bursts till it's hot enough. It smells kinda ewwwww but if you're in this much pain that doesn't really matter much. I just kept putting on perfume so I didn't have to smell the rice, lol.
2. Onion -- Boil or bake a quarter of an onion until soft. Then you can either squeeze some of the juice into your ear or take a small piece of it and insert it in your ear. Sounds weird, I know, but it really does take away the ear pain. Between this and the rice bag I was joking that I was like a stew myself. But they worked.
3. Steam -- a humidifier helps relieve pressure by moistening the air, a hot shower definitely does the same. It won't work by itself but, along with the two above will work as part of a triple threat to the issue at hand.
For Sore Throat
Unfortunately, the cures for sore throats don't eradicate the pain the way the ones for earache did but they did help considerably.
1. Gargling with hot salt water --- My grandmother used to swear by this and constantly tell me to do it to which I constantly replied ewwwwwww and refused. But it works, My throat hurt so much I could hardly swallow and it didn't completely eliminate the pain but it made it go down enough for me to sleep and swallow. I cover the bottom of a cup with salt (the more you use at one time the fewer times you'll have to gargle), let tap water get as hot as it can, then fill the cup about 1/2 way, Gargle till gone. Repeat about 3 times. It's gross but it works. Repeat when it gets so bad again you can't swallow.
2. Alcohol --- As above, salt really helps, (it kills germs for one - hence the old 'salt in a wound' adage), so does alcohol, (in small amounts, getting drunk lowers your immune system). Lemon is also known to be helpful with throat issues. So, even though I abhor tequila - I hate to admit that the quickest way to hit a throat with a 3 way attack is a shot of it. With salt first, followed by lemon. Repeat no more than 3 times. The alcohol will, of course, also help you sleep and make you a little less acutely aware of the pain.
You can also launch a 3 way attack with a hot toddy - Put 2 tablespoons of honey in the bottom of a glass along with a few slices of lemon, add a shot of bourbon and pour about a cup of boiling water over all. The honey coats your throat, again, lemon helps it as well, the bourbon helps kill germs and the heat + the sugar in the honey intensify it's effects to promote sleep.
3. Hot sauce --- This may have helped more than anything else - if your throat hurts too much to eat even a chip or two with raging hot salsa (and I mean raging hot - this is like add the hottest hot sauce you can find hot) or guacamole then add some to the chicken soup. Maybe put some on the lemon your chasing the tequila shot with. However it is you can take it, it'll help.
Unfortunately, there's not much you can do with a stomach flu except let it get itself out of your system.
1. Heat will help some with the pain, (which in the case of this flu was absolutely stabbing and had me crying out),. A hot bath or shower, (stay in as long as possible) will also help while you're in it.
2. The pain can also be cut down a little with tylenol, (if you can keep it down and in this case it diminished it enough for me to sleep but didn't eradicate it). Asprin can aggravate stomach lining so stay away from that/you unfortunately can't do the alternation for this that you can do for ear and throat pain.
3. Chamomile tea doesn't cure it but it does help a little - I found peppermint more helpful than anything else so add a little oil of peppermint to plain chamomile tea. You can drink it as often/as much as you like and, combined with the above two, with this variety of stomach bug anyway, it will lessen the ordeal.
Main thing is to just keep as little on your stomach as possible while this phase moves on. Very cold soda, clear popsicles, jello - the usual things your mom probably gave you when you were sick, all provide slight comfort on their own and help with the throat part too.
I wish I'd had this list when I first woke up crying from my ear hurting! Hope it helps some of you too. Hang in there. It only seems to last a few days at worst.
More Sickroom Recipes
Creamed Chip Beef
1 jar dried beef
1/4 cup butter (real butter, not margerine)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
Melt butter in saucepan. Mix flour with salt and pepper then blend gradually, stirring continuously over medium heat until thick and caramel colored. (Careful so that it doesn't burn). Stir in milk very gradually, letting thicken a little as you stir, (and downside is you do need to stir continuously) until it thickens. Reduce heat to low. Shred beef and stir in. Serve over toast or biscuits. (White bread will be much easier on your stomach than wheat.)
Lonesome Liz's Biscuits
2 c self rising flour
1 stick margerine or 8 tbsp shortening (shortening is better) cut into pieces
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in margerine or shortening with a knife (doing it this way truly does produce the best result) until it looks like cornmeal. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in milk then stir. Turn onto floured board and kenad very lightly until it's not sticky. Roll and cut with glass or cookie cutter.
Place biscuits close together on greased pan, sprinkled with flour. Towards end of baking brush with a mixture of milk and melted butter to brown. Bake at 450 about 10 min.