The Crud

“A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.” ~Ogden Nash

It all started on New Year’s Eve.  I saw her, I hugged her, I knew immediately that Ava was going to get what she had (and by the law of being a mom to a sick baby, I would be soon to follow).  She is my adorable, amazing, miraculous little niece, CJ.  She had just gotten tubes put in her ears that morning, so I asked her how she was feeling.  I got a full on thumbs down!  Then, I heard it, the Crud.

Bed is the best place to be when feeling unwell.  Photo courtesy of George Eastman House by Nikolas Muray ca. 1935

Bed is the best place to be when feeling unwell. Photo courtesy of George Eastman House by Nikolas Muray ca. 1935

You can’t deny hearing the Crud.  It is the nasally, congested, raspy, I-can’t-escape-the-sound-of-my-own-breathing voice of a sick loved one or normally friendly service industry worker.

You can’t deny seeing the Crud.  It is the watery eyed, red nosed, chapped lipped, muted demeanor of the friend with used Kleenex clutched in one hand or the guy in the car next to you coughing into the crook of his arm.

And you can’t deny feeling the Crud.  It starts with a little tingling, maybe in your throat, maybe right above your soft palate.  Maybe it’s just a little runny nose or a slight cough. Could it just bit a little environmental irritation?  Maybe I was petting the dog too much or the wind kicked up some dust…Nope.  It’s not.  It’s the Crud.  You’ve got it and you can’t deny it!  Worst of all…Once it finds you, it’s very hard to escape it unscathed.

{Aside}: My left ear just cleared, and the sound of the wind outside has never sounded so sweet.

Today I’m on day five of the Crud and Ava is on day eight.  We are both nearly over it, but it has been a long several days.  We stocked up on tissues and had fun picking out stylish box designs.  We cuddled a lot.  We’ve slept a bunch. We’ve eaten a lot of soup.  My mom always called matzo ball soup “Jewish Penicillin,” so we did our best to imitate this Jewish classic.  I don’t have any matzo meal, so I didn’t even attempt to make the balls, but I did make a nourishing soup of chicken broth (with the fat so no schmaltz needed!), bone broth, sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger, kale, miso, onions, garlic, quinoa and barley.  We even ate a few servings egg drop style.  So, all of the ingredients (plus some other goodies) of a good matzo ball soup–perhaps just served in an avante-garde “deconstructed” manner.

Matzo Ball Soup; courtesy of Flickr user wEnDy, Jan. 2, 2012.

Matzo Ball Soup; courtesy of Flickr user wEnDy, Jan. 2, 2012.

I am not apologetic or regretful of my trust in medicine.  I know and have read a lot of the research about letting our bodies fight off illness and waiting to use drugs to treat ailments and the steady rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria.  And I know that it’s kind of socially irresponsible to parade your germs around even when you know you’re sick…but I love that medicine helps me function fairly well despite being sick.  It’s hard to take that much needed rest, sometimes, you know? In the past, I would have taken this sick time time to just float along on a nice daily cocktail of various ‘quils and some hefty doses of ibuprofen.  After a few days, if my sinuses felt like they were packed full of hardening cement I’d weasel my way into an antibiotic prescription and feel better pretty quickly.

But now I’m nursing, and I want to expose Ava to as little of that stuff as possible.  Plus it would probably mess with my supply (I took Benadryl once and it was not good).  Furthermore, I don’t have to be especially productive, friendly or attractive for a job.  So, I’m just being sick and letting my body get over it on its own with some non-traditional-medicine support.

{Aside}: My right ear just popped, too!  Sweet relief!

Ava’s Crud was worse than mine and thankfully we were in Minnesota at my mom’s place during the thick of it.  We spent several mornings and evenings in the bathroom with a hot shower running.  Oh the power of steam!  If only I could waste hot water all day…The only thing I wish I had to pair with the steam would be some essential oils or herbs to put in the bath water.  Once we got back to Alaska I did some hot steam treatments myself just using a sauce pan and some herbs (rosemary and lavender) on the stove.  It provides instant, if not lasting, comfort.

Neti Pots are the best!  Photo courtesy of Flickr user Sherrie Super, Jan. 16, 2011.

Neti Pots are the best! Photo courtesy of Flickr user Sherrie Super, Jan. 16, 2011.

I also love using a neti pot when I’m congested.  The saline solution soothes my sinus passages, and breaks up a lot of the Crud!  If you have never used a neti pot, I highly recommend using one when your sinuses are bothered.  I come from a long line of thin nosed people, and we all have too many sinus issues.  The ayurvedic practice of using a neti pot has been one of the best health tools I’ve come across.

Finally, hydration has been my number one priority.  I’ve finally started to get serious about drinking a big glass of warm lemon water upon waking up (this helps multiple ways–it boosts vitamin C, it aids digestion, it alkalizes the body and it helps with the absorption of other helpful vitamins and minerals).  I’ve also been drinking lots of good teas–echinacea, chamomile, nettle, fenugreek, licorice root and lavender.  If nothing else, the heat and fragrance is incredibly soothing to me both physically and mentally.

Stinging Nettle, the panacea of herbs. Photo courtesy of Flickr user zen sutherland, May 2005

Stinging Nettle, the panacea of herbs. Photo courtesy of Flickr user zen sutherland, May 2005

It appears that all of my remedies are hydrocentric, but there are some others that I might turn to if our symptoms persist.  Elderberry syrup is said to work wonders for cold symptoms and it isn’t too hard to make, from what I remember.  I’ve also read that applying slices of onions and/or garlic to the soles of your feet while sleeping really helps…You just slather some olive oil on your feet, lay them on the soles, and put on some socks to hold the slices in place.  Apparently these alliums pull toxins from the body and promote healing. I’m very interested in (and fairly skeptical of) this remedy…but I think the yurt is too small of a space to attempt such a stinky charade.  Perhaps if the Crud sticks around for another two days I’ll give it a go.  I guess if the whole family was sick enough none of us would be able to smell our attempts to get better?

While my Kleenex supplies slowly dwindles I’ll eagerly await any foolproof, no-fail ways to combat the common cold.  Share your drug free remedies with us!  There are definitely more colds and flus to be had this season.

Until next time, Farmgirls, may you and yours escape the Crud!

Sending Peace and Love from AK,

Alex, The Rural Farmgirl

Leave a comment 24 Comments

  1. diana henretty says:

    If you get a fever this winter, soak some slices of unpeeled potatoes in a bowl of
    apple cider vinegar for about 15 min.
    Take them out, put them in your socks on the soles of your feet.
    Within a few minutes your fever will drop to normal.
    My husband tried this after otc meds wouldnt bring down my 103 fever, and I was talking out of my head.
    The next morning, I was surprised to stand up with vinegar soaked potatoes in my socks but well. That remedy brought down my fever in 15 minutes.
    It really works!
    Wishing you and that sweet baby health and happiness…..Diana, Noel Mo.

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks, Diana! I will keep this remedy in my Crud files. Part of me (a very, very, minuscule part) wants a fever so I can try this…

  2. I would say this post could easily be THE crud manual for mommas and babies. Crud happens but how you deal with it and think about it is everything. I want to be cared for by you the next time the crud pays us a visit:)

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks, MaryJane! I think my written word comes off a bit less pathetic than my reality, but you are right–how we think about it makes a huge difference. I hope you escape the crud this winter!

  3. Shari Doty says:

    I also prefer natural remedies, and self healing. Some things I’ve had luck with are as follows:
    If the ears get involved, I soak two small cotton balls with onion juice, and place one in each ear. Incredibly it takes away the pain, and draws out infection.
    For sinuses, crush a clove of garlic, and breathe deeply through your nose. I have also added crushed garlic to olive oil, and smeared it on my chest during a particularly horrible cold!
    Also never underestimate the power of hot lemonade with honey and a shot of Jack Daniel’s! It makes you sleep and it makes you sweat out toxins. Plus for just a bit, the whiskey makes you feel less like you’re dying! But no more than twice a day, otherwise you’re just masking the symptoms, and might as well go ahead and use the cold medicine. (shudder)

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      My ears ARE involved. I will try the onion juice today. And I do love a nice hot toddy. I think there might be one (or two) in my future… Thanks for the tips!

  4. Nancy Edwards says:

    We are just getting through the CRUD as well. Always hard to weigh in about taking OTC drugs which make it possible to go to work but really mask what is going on. I have found as a I get older that I am veering away from antibiotics and more towards more natural alternatives. I was a child of the 1950’s and 60’s and part of the group that had antibiotics over-prescribed and now I am allergic to penicillin because it was the “go to” drug for everything for so long. That said, I have always maintained getting a broken arm would be easier than the CRUD which hits you on so many fronts. But now, at my age, the idea of staying home and napping endlessly is such an attractive scenario that I am formulating stories in my head to try out on my boss whenever the CRUD comes knocking. “It could be a cold but it has the same symptoms as Koala Flu so I best stay home to be sure.”

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Haha, I love it. Koala Flu is very serious. I remember, as a kid, thinking it would be better for my nose to fall off than to have a cold!

  5. Tamara says:

    What I have sounds nothing like what you have. I just have a common cold and on day 5, it’s following the typical pattern of going away on days 5 and 6 before I wave bye-bye for good. I have a barrage of herbal treatments that I do, which may do nothing, but it makes me feel like I am doing something. The absolutely most awesome thing I take is medicinal mushrooms. I’ve tried several brands and the hands-down winner is MycoFormulas Immune Defense. I’ve warded off many colds by taking this at the very first suspicions that I might be getting sick. Honey is a huge relief straight from the jar for sore throats and coughs. Of course, I take a bunch of other things….echinacea, goldenseal, elderberry, andrographis, and astragalus….and tons of Vitamin C. This time I added zinc at the urging of my boyfriend. Soups full of garlic, lemon, ginger, and shiitake mushrooms always make me feel better. And a hot steamy shower clears up the sinuses. When things get sticky at the end, the netti pot is a godsend. TerraFirm Botanicals “Root It Away” cough syrup works great for coughs….I get it from Mountain Rose Herbs. And I do admit that I take phenylephrine. It is non-drowsy and takes care of sniffles or stuffiness…and in the nose spray form, it works miracles. I do believe that getting sick now and then is really good for our immune systems, but there is a limit to how raw my nose can get before I reach for a little help from the medicine cabinet…and it really makes life tolerable. Stay warm, keep away from other people, and don’t push yourself at the end or you will relapse. And just think of how strong your immune system will be after this ordeal!!

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Awesome, Tamara! Thanks for your cold care guide. It follows my thoughts exactly- “there’s only so raw my nose can get.” I didn’t know phenylephrine came in a nasal spray…I may have to look into it. And medicinal mushrooms?! cool. Thanks for your advice and tips!

  6. Dana May says:

    I love your stories, and your sweet little Ava. Such a good momma you are!! Keep writting you are excellent at it!!

  7. Emma says:

    We are faithful neti-ers at my house. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t ALWAYS take a peek to see what’s come out. Hope you feel better soon!

  8. Hi Alex, I have managed to escape The Crud this season… unfortunately in the back of my head I keep knowing that it is going to come! When it does, I’m going to try some of the remedies in your blog post – and the comments! :-) I have to admit that before I read your post I scrolled down real quick to see a picture of Ava…. awwww she wasn’t there! That little girl has to be the cutest little button. Hope you and the darling wee-one feel better soon. Hugs, – Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl –

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks, Dori. Yeah, there are some great recommendations in the comments, I’m eager to try some of them. I was kind of lazy with pictures these past two weeks…I’ll try to find a good Ava one to tack on the end for you! We seem to be on mend today. I hope you don’t get the crud!

  9. Heidi says:

    I love to make a steeping pot of wellness tea….fresh chopped ginger, garlic, lemon an cayenne and just a touch of honey….it works wonders!!

  10. susana says:

    My heart gives it. You and the baby…,the Crud is awful…and no amount fvmeducation can touch herbs fir onboard to their remedies… myself… I have learned get gargling with chloraseptic sore throat spdayy is the first step…killing germs, then making a cup of herbal De-tox tea, is second, thirdly…take a double died of echinachea by capsule….and make chicken soup with egg and lemon and adding cayenne pepper to it….it works…. and crawl in bed with a meeting ad and sweet it out….and pray I don’t vomit….But I find after a good heaving and a bowel movement, I’m on the mend, as I find those things mentioned above is the only way to get over the CRUD! Its never failed me yet! Hope your feeling better….when I follow those steps…usually two days im feeling bad. But I think because I use a CPAC breathing machine, I been sick less. The warm steam and/saline/solution help a lot by getting rid if the crud. I also find working up a sweat by shoveling snow held keep me/healthy…..the child air his the crud just roll it if me…even when I had pneumonia the cold air moist air made it/easier to breath….I have slept in a cold room since…and I have had pneumonia many tines.,…to he that’s the cruelest crud there is….I used to ct my sickness shorter with comfrey tea…. that head the be much better, But since they took that off the market….have to rely on all those other things…. get well…the chicken soul is a lot better than penicillin any day ( I too can’t take it….allergic to it)! Get well. Susana

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Comfrey tea? Hmmm, is there something wrong with taking it? I’ll just Google it, but it is easy to grow comfrey. I’ve made oils and salves with it before, never heard of using it for tea. Thanks for all of your suggestions! Down with the Crud!

  11. Anna Azzopardi says:

    I use Homeopathics – any of the Hyland’s brands that pertain to what you have. I also use Young Living Essential Oils – Thieves Oil (Throat-in water or drop on tongue&Rub on Chest-use neat) , Lavender(chapped lips, inflammation, nausea, laryngitis, sleep aid-use neat or diluted), Frankincense (asthma,coughs-use diluted in an organic vegetable or coconut oil), Lemon Oil in water with local honey (whiskey too if you like it). You can check out on google. These oils are my 4 favorites when sick.

  12. Karen Pennebaker says:

    I make elderberry syrup every year and it does help ward off germs. My youngest son (age 42) got a rip roaring case of the flu and all of us were exposed. His son, my 9 year old grandson, started the sneezing/coughing/ whatever… and I knew we were all likely to catch it. I started feeling scratchy, took some elderberry syrup before I went to bed. By then, I was coughing non stop. Someone told me “put Vicks Salve on the soles of your feet, white socks, and go to bed”… so, that is what I did and that’s what I had my grandson do, as well. Other than a runny nose, which for me is an all winter long thing and always has been, I was fine the next day! Ny grandson was still coughing a little for a couple of days but didn’t feel sick. My husband is still coughing…he wasn’t really sick, but he obviously had it, too. He took the elderberry syrup but refused to try the Vicks Salve. I don’t know how or why it worked, but it did!!

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Oh yeah, Vicks on the feet! I remember that being popular when I was a kid. I recently saw some articles about how that isn’t recommended anymore? I didn’t read them so don’t really know what the deal is…But I like to use tiger balm like this, too! I’ll have to make some elderberry syrup next year. I don’t think elderberry grow in Alaska though…A good thing to research.

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