Eight days after I first got hit with the H1N1 virus, I finally found enough energy to walk around the house. Driving was still a little scary, and quite a bit of fluid had built up in my inner ear, so playing a rehearsal under stage lights was surreal.
The prior seven days, I was less useful than an amoeba. I could lie still. I could roll over just slightly. I could moan and groan. That was about it.
In the event that you contract H1N1, there’s a good chance your doctor will tell you to head home and take over-the-counter medications until you feel better. At the point that you’re diagnosed, however, you’re probably going to feel like the aforementioned amoeba.
Obviously, different remedies work for different people, but the following four medications contain ingredients that help fight most of the symptoms associated with H1N1. (Be sure to consult with your doctor before mixing any medications.) Here’s a primer on the OTC meds that worked for me:
Theraflu Warming Relief: Flu & Sore Throat
My bottle is nearly empty—this was my go-to medication throughout my worst days. I scoffed at the “warming relief” proclamation on the front of the bottle—until I tried it. Even through my most persistent coughing, it would soothe my throat. Bonus: It helps keep fevers down.
Everything is going to hurt. A lot. Get a big bottle, and don’t look back.
A doctor recommended that I take three pills every six hours (consult with your own doctor for your own dosage), and I found it helpful to make a small chart on a Post-it so I could remember the last time I had taken a dose. Trust me, things get fuzzy. Bonus: It also helps keep your fever down.
On day three of the flu, I received the following advice: To help your coughing, rub Vicks on the bottom of your feet and cover them with cotton socks (so you don’t track it all over your house).
I was bombarded with enough old wives’ tales to be skeptical, but sure enough, each time I slathered my feet with Vicks and put on cotton athletic socks I stopped coughing. I applied it in tandem with a swath on my chest, bathing in the menthol glory. Bonus: You’ll smell, so it will keep your roommates away from you. This is good—you don’t want to infect them anyway.
Nighttime will become a nightmare. Fevers tend to spike at night, and my cough always worsened. I would build myself a pillow fortress so I could sleep somewhat upright on the couch, and settle in with a box of Kleenex and some cough drops.
One medication helped me get past the discomfort and sleep—Tylenol PM. I might feel a bit drowsy in the morning, but I didn’t really care. Bonus: Flu dreams are crazy. Be sure to write them down. They might inspire Tim Burton’s next film.