Cooped up with the flu
October 25th, 2011
11:15 AM ET
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I'm half-conscious and alone in an Atlanta hotel room, and I've been banned from coming into the office and passing this crud onto anyone else. It's the flu, I think - headache, dry cough, aches and a throbbing headache. I've been holed up here for a couple of days, swilling the orange juice and TheraFlu I stumbled out into the street to buy, biding time until my flight back to New York tonight.

It's utterly miserable being sick away from home – not just because loved ones and comfy clothes are far away, but also because it's just so hard to get the right food to eat. At home, there's chicken soup and toast and tea, edible in bed or on the couch with a friendly dog and hot and cold running episodes of Law & Order. In the center of a strange city, such comforts seem as rarefied and precious as a truffle-studded tasting menu at a multi-Michelin-starred restaurant. And frankly, I don't even think I could choke that down right now.

This is how I know I'm sick – when food has lost all appeal, and I'm just eating enough to function. What is generally one of my greatest joys now seems like a chore, and finding suitable fare is simply exhausting. In my current digs, I could get either a pricey, fussy crepe filled with chicken and mushroom duxelles from the restaurant downstairs, or schlep a few blocks for a sack of greasy fast food chicken. Those both have their time and place, but that's not what I need right now.

That's why when my version of the health bill passes (in my hallucinatory flu world, I've been elected Emperor of Sniffles and Minibars), all hotels, motels and restaurants of every stripe will be required to have one (1) of the following menu items cheaply available for consumption at all times: chicken noodle soup, pho, hot and sour soup or menudo, served with toast and tea. This may or may not technically have any real medical benefit, but it may be exactly what someone under the weather and far away needs to to keep them going until they can make it home to bed.

Got a strategy for coping when you're sick away from home? I sure could use that right now. Please share in the comments below. I'd be most grateful.

Previously - Chicken soup recipe for the banged-up soul, How to make chicken stock and Healthy green soup to fight the funk

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Kelly

    I recommend pjs, a day in bed sleeping instead of working on ur computer, wonton soup delivered in, a salt water nasal rinse, and the theraflu teas. Did u try the new one with Lipton? My husband just tried if and said it tastes really good. Hope ur feeling better soon!

    October 27, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  2. Kerry

    So sorry you are sick :( I had the flu (NOT a cold) once and I literally thought I was going to die. It's like being hit with a truck. I usually just drink gatorade and eat toast when I'm sick. i can't down water when I'm nauseous, which is weird because I normally never drink anything other than water.

    October 26, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  3. Jorge

    A steady trickle of rum, lime and honey does it for me. It may not cure anything, but after a while, I simply don't care...

    October 26, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  4. LanaClaire

    Warn up a bottle of sake, drink the whole thing, go to sleep, sweat it out during the night and you'll wake up feeling human again.

    October 26, 2011 at 6:33 am |
  5. Learn-ed

    Sambucol antiviral kills Cold/flu virus in 1-3're well....Umcka antiviral kills cold/flu virus in 1-3 days...poof –you're well....How do you know it isn't something besides the flu???/ many things have"flu-like symptoms" which are far worse....just thot I would add that little bit of intrigue in there...since you are a writer....Both these available in Europe...even Walmart....just don't use anti-inflamatories-let your fever bake the virus...

    October 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Jorge

      If that's so, I'll bet the Big Pharma pandering FDA will soon find a way to ban them both from all U.S. drugstore isles, to stop these products from cutting in on the overpriced prescription cr@p racket. We need corrupt government agencies like a fish needs a worm on a hook.

      October 26, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  6. Kathleen

    Hang in there, Kat. This, too, shall pass.

    Call the front desk and ask for restaurants that deliver. Soup is good, but Tex-Mex (with enough hot sauce that you can taste it) will REALLY help with what ails you.

    But I want to call "SHAME" upon your co-workers. They know you're from out of town, they aren't, and they should be stepping up to help you out.

    October 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Wiy Corn pone

      That's what I was thinking. The only thing I can imagine why the Atlanta CNN crew did not show any southern hospitality is that they are all Yankee migrants. This indifference from the miserable Atlanta CNN office can only be topped by those cold cold Chinese who walked past that Chinese toddler that was run over by a slow moving truck.

      October 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  7. NWLoc

    For whatever reason I lean towards Chinese Food when I'm sick. That's if I'm getting food out. At home it's Chicken Noodle Soup or Minestrone along with Emergency / Warm H2O and Grill Cheese (light on the cheese). Add lots of sweating and you're good in 2 – 3 days. Now, coughing is a different question. Have to see a doc for that if it doesn't get better. I was sick on a business travel once. It was miserable.

    October 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  8. NotWhatItSeems

    Unfortunately, Georgia is the one place that a gun was aimed at us when we had a broken down car, 4 kids inside and mom/dad...went to the place with a light on in the gas station (it was closed)...the gun laid on the desk in sight and we backed off.

    The south is volatile. But it is worth asking. Order some Chinese food-soup especially. I am certain they deliver to your location.

    October 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Jorge

      What part of Georgia was that? I live there, and would like to know. From my experience in the South, when travelling through, stick to the main roadways (preferrably highways) and the population centers near them, especially if your car has out-of-state tags. The folks in many of the small towns are so desperate for money, anything could happen, and these places are often nothing but scantly populated speed traps anyway. They might benefit by being more welcoming and having something to offer to visitors, but they can't seem to figure that out. The exception to that seems to be known historic and point-of-interest towns which make a lot of their money from visitors, but that's it.

      October 26, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  9. Lifelong Vegetarian

    I love spicy soup when I get sick. Tom Yum Tofu is probably my favorite, when I can find someplace that makes it to my taste. But any Asian-like vegetable soup will do in a pinch. The spicy soup helps numb my throat and clear my sinuses. All good things in hastening recovery.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  10. RichardHead

    One large bowl of chicken vegetable soup sprinkled with fresh cracked black pepper and red chili flakes,one sleeve of saltine crackers,followed by 3 HOT Toddy's and then a Big pillow. When you wake up you should be 97 % better.

    October 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Jerv

      Fukin' A that's the only way to fly!

      October 26, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  11. Rick Springfield

    I take herbals most of the time and I have had the lowest sick leave of any employee of any company I have worked in all my life. Just now I'm sitting on 140 hours of sick leave that will go back to 80 hours on Jan 1st. I do happen to take 4 hours of it today but that's to attend a club meeting and I don't want to eat into vacation time. The herbals I take all the time are Echinacea/Goldenseal. I'll take it all season long and taper down for summer. I avoid OTC cold meds as much as possible. Good colon health is also good as your digestion system is totally messed up when you are sick. But taking probiotics and eating yogurt is really the key. If the doctor puts you on antibiotics then you must eat yogurt. One thing you can consider is for the doc to give you a scrpt for antifungals. They have no side effects and really do help. If you go on antibiotics then antifungals should follow.

    October 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Smarty Pants

      I have a healthy c0l0n :
      Several in fact :::::::::

      October 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  12. AnnM

    As I read this I am in Berlin (Germany) on a biz trip and in the same condition, health-wise. I stopped at the apotheke for some advil – got 20 liquid tabs, 2x the US dosage for a bit over 10 Euro. I am going to go downstairs shortly and ask about some soup (which is all I really want) and I'm sure they will find some for me, and maybe a cognac to help with sleep. Hotels can be most accommodating if you explain the situation. I hope you find your soup – and I hope I find mine. Take care. /A

    October 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  13. Tiffany F

    Wishing you a speedy recovering from your good old KY friend! I like the other comments to call the front desk and let them know you're sick, maybe they can bring you something to eat to help you feel better.

    October 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  14. bristoltwit palin...America's favorite dancing cow

    If you were a guy I'd come to your room and give you a lap dance. I guess I can even if you're not a guy.

    October 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  15. Evil Grin

    Spicy foods and salty foods help me when I have an upset stomach or a cold. If I'm feeling bad enough, I might not want to eat anything, but normally a nice warm, spiced soup will really go a long way. Sometimes so will a simple bag of plain chips. Of course tea or ginger ale.

    I'm sorry to hear you're sick again. I hope this flu is not too bad and passes quickly.

    October 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  16. AleeD@Ket

    Soooo sorry you're not feeling well.
    What works for me when I'm under the weather is
    Powerade Zero
    any kind of spicy chicken soup
    minimal floury or sugary foods
    avoid dairy

    Please get well soon!

    October 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • AleeD@Kat

      I spelled your name right on the first 15 attempts I made to post. Looks like I combined yours and EG's names. Sorry. [:-}

      October 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. The Nomad

    When this happens, I would recommend calling to the hotel desk, manager or concierge. Ask them to order some soup from their favorite local place and have them deliver it to your room. It is probably your best option when sick, and many people in the hospitality industry are willing to show a bit of extra kindness under these circumstances.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  18. Carol, a.k.a. Hungry Passport

    Honey, you are in the middle of Southern Hospitalityland. People do for each other here. Heck, if I lived in Atlanta, I'd be making chicken soup for you right now. Talk to someone downstairs. I've been amazed in the past by how accommodating hotel kitchens can be when we need a little pampering, even when I've been outside the South. In particular I was well cared for in Massachusetts once when too much travel had taken its toll on me.

    Ask and ye shall receive! And get well soon. Atlanta's a lovely city with a lot to enjoy.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Dana

      Southern hospitality? it's a myth! Haven't been in more hostile environment all the time I lived North. Everyone concerned about their own lives, never even asking about you, and if you need anything, fend for yourself, that's my neighbors in Mobile, AL for the last 4 years. Thank you.

      October 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
      • Fancy pants

        For Mobile, AL, maybe, but not all the south.

        October 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
      • Southern Belle@Dana

        Well ah nevah! It is certainly not a myth! Maybe you come across as having one of those personalities that are all centered around yourself. Have you ever asked anyone else about their well being? Have you?

        October 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
      • Jorge

        Gee, what a coincidence, Augusta, GA is like that too, I once asked a friend to compare Augusta to some well-known personage(s), he said "Merle Dixon mixed with Louis Farrakhan" I wonder how many exceptions there are to the 'rule'?

        October 26, 2011 at 8:56 am |
      • Ucrankpot

        You obviously moved in w/ a Yankee attitude. Have you tried being nice to your neighbors or are you just staring at them when you see them? Maybe you are the one that needs the attitude adjustment. Just saying because Mobile AL has been warm to strangers. Loose your cold heart and smile – that's as good as chicken soup.

        October 26, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  19. Jerv

    Total bummer you are not feeling like yourself, Kat. Get well soon. When I'm sick, it's soups, mainly vegetable broth with crushed red pepper and or black pepper.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  20. Truth

    Many hugs to you. I wish i was local so as to bring you whatever you need. Rest up and chicken soup is always good for what ails you!

    October 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
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