Arizona is one of the states that is currently experiencing an epidemic level of influenza. There must be a good chance that some people who are reading my column right now are in this fix, staying home to avoid spreading the virus. I hope that everyone who got the flu this season have already sworn that they will get the shot next time around, and I do understand that it is possible to get a shot even now, when you are over it for a period of time.
I got a flu shot last fall at Walmart in Tucson, and there was a nurse there who can answer questions for those who finally get to the point where they have recuperated and are out and about again. Please stop by your local pharmacy, Walmart or supermarket and inquire even if you are going through influenza right now.
Meanwhile, over the years I learned some things about dealing with virus, especially when my family got the A-Victoria Flu long ago. It was the Seventies and I was living in the Bay Area in California when my little niece came down with it. She was desperately ill, and my family put their heads together to come up with some immediate remedies to get her to be able to hold down some nourishment--she was only about a year old. A few days of throwing up everything she ate could have been lethal.
So if you are in the same fix and can't eat a thing, try this: there is a concoction called Alaguan Water that they give to sick babies on Guam. It is made by boiling up about a cup of rice in about 4-5 cups of water until the water thickens and gets cloudy with the starch out of the rice. You strain out the rice and sweeten the rice water with anything handy--the most bland form would be plain table sugar. Other sweeteners could be honey (for its antibiotic properties), maple syrup or even jelly dissolved into the water for a fruity taste.
It proved to be the only thing the baby could hold down, and sometimes I look back on it and think that her grandmother saved her life with the idea. So you could definitely cook up some rice water with a minimum of fuss.
If you can hold down food and have a fever, one thing that will get some calories into your body would be a milkshake. Plain milk with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, with an egg beaten in, will give you an eggnog milkshake that you can sprinkle with a bit of nutmeg and reminisce on the Holidays. A hint that I pass along from the great Peg Bracken is the peppermint milkshake--with an egg beaten in as well--which she said was a life-saver, and I believe it.
Drinking fluids is always recommended, but in Arizona is it critical because even with a common cold, hours of breathing through the mouth will dehydrate your body in record time. Here in Tucson I learned to drink before I felt thirsty, and by the time you actually feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.
Any kind of tea is good for colds and flu, and of course there are remedies in the pharmacy that are designed for flu relief. But if you don't have them in your house when it strikes, and you have other things around like plain white rice, you can come up with some defenses while you take your aspirin and wait it out.
Lastly: there is a lot of street lore about vaccinations, and they are mostly not true. But what is true is that a bad case of influenza can kill you--I didn't get my flu shot out of holier-than-thou virtue, but because at my age I would be in serious trouble if I get it. So since the shot is only about twenty dollars even without health insurance, get it as soon as you can, and if you have the flu and get over it, ask the nurse at the shot center if it will do any good to get one.