It was the ultimate test of single life: taking care of a hangover on my own.
To be clear, it wasn’t a major hangover. More like hangover-light. Some wooziness, a little nausea, but nothing debilitating. Which was good because I had a hair appointment in three hours — aaaaalll the way across town of course — that I was determined to make.
I got up, got dressed and tried my best to chug some water. Narration may have been involved to guide me through the steps. (“Okay, we’re getting up. Now we’re walking to the kitchen. Now we’re filling the water bottle…”)
Then it was a matter of driving (very carefully and rather slowly, which is to say the actual speed limit) the mile up to Walgreens. There I gingerly made my way to the cold drinks section, tried to keep my head level as I bent down to grab a Powerade, then made my way to the snacks section and found the crackers. Once again, bending carefully.
I made it through checkout and even got a small discount thanks to a coupon I’d forgotten that I’d added to my store card. #automatedfrugality #frugalhangover
After checking out, I went outside to momentarily hover the trash can, paying for all of that movement. But that passed rather quickly, so I got in my car and made it home. No puking involved! Well… That day. The night before may have seen me getting acquainted with the drinks twice: once down, once up.
I laugh about it now, but the episode made me realize just how alone I was now that I’m divorced.
Things that I used to be able to send Tim out to do, I now have to do on my own. And it’ll be true the next time I feel awful, be it alcohol- or germ-induced. It made me realize that I wasn’t prepared to be sick.
This is vitally important, whether you’re single or a couple. (Couples can both get sick/hungover, guys.) You need to be ready to feel subpar.
Load up the pantry
Obviously you should always have a relatively stocked pantry anyway — advice I’m sure to follow any day now. But when you’re sick you’ll need more than ingredients. You’ll want some emergency meals.
Make sure you have some soups on hand at all times. It’s great “I don’t feel good” or even just “I don’t feel like cooking (and don’t want to pay for pizza)” food. Plus there are some pretty tasty options out there these days. That said, at least a few cans should be nice and basic. (Yeah, ya basic! When you’re sick, anyway.) If you have a bad cold or especially the flu, the last thing you’ll want is a soup full of heavy ingredients. Besides, there’s just something soothing about simple chicken noodle soup.
Cans of fruit are also good because the pectin in the syrup can calm down an upset stomach.
And unless you literally never drink, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bottle of Powerade and some saltines. I know I do. Now.
I’ll also be loading up the fridge and pantry prior to my eye surgery. Some of my favorite cookies from the dollar store, the tasty spicy hummus I’m addicted to, and other comfort foods will be stocked up on for when I’m one-eyed and can’t drive for a day or two.
Load up the medicine cabinet
The time to be buying cold medicines isn’t when you actually have the cold. You want to already have soothing relief on hand, not to have to trudge out to the store stuffy-headed to get it. Besides, if you buy it as-needed, you might not get a sale. Walgreens and CVS tend to have cyclical cold medicine sales, so it’s just a matter of watching for them.
Don’t forget other supplies, like Vick’s Vaporub (well, the store brand, anyway). And cough drops (I generally go name brand on these). Get some with menthol in them and you can probably skip the Vick’s Vaporub.
Oh, and tissues with lotion in them. I used to make fun of “luxury” tissues. Then I got a cold, used Puffs Plus with Lotion and didn’t have a dry, flaky nose for days on end. It was fab-u-lous and worth paying a little bit more. Besides, Walgreens pretty much always has a coupon that I can load to my card. #sicksavings
Load up on friends
Of course, one of the best things to have when you’re sick or not well are friends. Good ones. Ones that will, say, offer to drive you to your cataract surgery. (My mom is timing one of her trips down here to coincide with the procedure, but it was nice for my friends to assure me that one of them would get me there if need be.)
Good friends will get you to the doctor if you’re too sick to drive. Or they’ll at least check in on you and maybe swing by the store if you’re unable to get there yourself. They’re worth their weight in gold. Just remember to be an equally good friend in return.
Load up the bank account
And of course I have the ultimate sickness preparation: an emergency fund. As a contractor, I only get paid when I work. So missing any days is a blow to the ole paycheck, meaning that I might have to dip into savings or the emergency fund to cover any shortfall. I know I was pretty grateful for the bank account that year I missed a week of work from the flu.
Even if you have paid time off, it’s important to have some financial backup. A series of bad luck — especially if you have kids, who need looking after when they get sick, then tend to get you sick too — can mean that you run out of PTO. Then you may need that money asap.
Are you prepared to be sick? Which one of these is the most important for you?