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Surviving a Cold or Flu in your RV

Surviving a Cold or Flu in your RV

By Stephanie A. Mayberry

Two days ago this topic would not have crossed my mind, but the past 48 hours have opened my eyes to the realities of illness in an RV and married life and how the two combine – it’s getting real folks. I guess this topic of illness never really crossed my mind because my husband and I so rarely get sick. That has changed, though. This is our first time to really see what it’s like to be sick, married, and in an RV – all at the same time.

I have not been sick in years, neither has my husband. We were blissfully living our lives, taking out good health for granted until a couple of weeks ago I got a little cough. Well, within a matter of days that little cough had turned into a full blown case of Martian Death Flu. For almost a week I hacked, sneezed, sniffed, and coughed.

As I sat on the bed, staring the few feet into the living room at my husband, eyeing me warily and sanitizing everything, I realized just how small an RV is. See, when I get sick I want to be left alone. I am like an old dog; I’ll just crawl off somewhere and be by myself until I get better which is basically what I did.

Then my husband got sick.

We handle things a little differently. Where I want to be left alone when I am sick, my husband acts like there should be a special edition of the newspaper announcing his malady. I love my husband, he is the most awesome, wonderful husband a girl could ever have and I respect him greatly, but when he gets sick something changes. Maybe I have spoiled him, I don’t know, or maybe I still feel pretty rough and my tolerance isn’t what it should be. Whatever the case, our spacious RV got real small real quick.

Don’t get me wrong, I was not irritated. I made him soup and got him lots of liquids. I am doing my best to take care of him and in all fairness he took great care of me while I was sick. But there are just some things you can’t plan for so here are my tips for surviving a cold in your RV.

Clear the air.
RVs can get pretty stale so if you can open a few windows and let your unit air out that is great. If you are suffering from allergies then you might want to keep the windows closed though.

Freshen the air.
I have a small crockpot and I use it for natural air fresheners. For a cold or flu I will cut up a lemon, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and cover it all with water. As the water heats it releases the lemon scent and eucalyptus which will open your head.

Steam it up.
If you have a stuffy head or chest congestion steam can help. This is where being in an RV is great because most RV bathrooms are about the size of closets. This means you can steam them up fairly quickly. Run the hot water and sit in the steam or a few minutes so that the congestion can loosen.

Adjust your sleeping arrangements.
Look at the situation logically and see how your RV is laid out then adjust your sleeping arrangements accordingly. For instance, our bedroom is at one end of the RV and it has a door to close it off from the rest of the camper. Because of this, I sleep in the living area on the sofa so that I don’t disturb my husband when I get something to drink or go to the restroom.

Create a separation between the sick person and the rest of the RV.
With any luck, the sick person will sleep a lot. Try to cordon off a section of the RV so that the person can sleep with minimal disturbance. If the bedroom is separate with a door that closes that is all the better. Just remember, you are not in a house so some adjustments must be made.

Agree on restroom protocol.
Depending on the nature of your illness, or just how much liquid you are taking in, a restroom protocol may be in order. Agree on who has first dibs when you both head for the rest room at the same time, or how you will determine who goes first. My husband always lets me go first, but I don’t always take him up on that because that wouldn’t be fair. We pretty much split it down the middle.

Have a plan B.
If you need the restroom and it is not available, what will you do? I won’t go into details, but I will suggest coming up with a plan B.

Clean and sanitize.
You are in a small, confined space so germs don’t have far to travel to infect you. Try to keep the place clean as best you can and sanitize often. Change out towels, wipe down counters, faucets, door knobs, and the toilet handle. Try to keep things clean and sanitary so the illness doesn’t spread. Oh, and wash your hands often.

Be mindful – of everything.
If you are used to living in an apartment or house, it can be tough to be in an RV when you are sick or your partner is sick. Try to be mindful of everything you do. Walking can make noise if you don’t walk a little carefully. Cooking can send food odors all through the small space and if someone isn’t feeling well it can bother them. Sound also carries in an RV so trying to be quieter than usual is also a good idea.

In the end, it may take a few adjustments but you can survive a cold in an RV. There may be times when you doubt it, but work together and respect each other – it will all be just fine.

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