How I’ve Stayed Cold & Flu Free for Over a Year

We all know when cold & flu season breaks out because it’s first noticed at work. The first coworker to call out sick in the fall is the early warning system that the cold & flu storm has arrived. Soon, a cascade of coworkers call out sick and seemingly only half to two-thirds of your coworkers are “in” at any given time.

 

Last year was also a year of heavy ups and downs in Maryland weather, something which I’m told wears down your immune system because your body keeps having to adjust to drastic changes in temperature. Despite this and the yearly plague outbreak at work, I have managed to stay cold and flu free for over a year now. (The only sickness I got was food poisoning, I’m pretty sure.) I’ve definitely felt colds coming on, but I’ve successfully fought them off in less than 24 hours every time. I wanted to share the tips that I believe helped me do this…other than prayer!

 

Zinc lozenges. I’m a huge fan of these now and take them all the time once the weather starts to get cold. The most popular brand is Cold-Eeze. According to the packaging, zinc is a mineral that kills cold germs when it comes into contact with them. So, sucking on a zinc lozenge a couple times a day kills cold germs in your mouth, thereby reducing the number of cold germs in your body taxing your immune system. I definitely credit these with saving me from the onset of many a cold. I move them around in my mouth, including under the tongue, so that they contact all areas of my mouth, wherever the germs may be hiding.

 

Sleep and take naps. I made it a real point to get as much sleep as I could and to never get less than 7.5 hrs of sleep a night. Obviously I fell short of that sometimes but I took it very seriously, knowing that sleep is the best way to fight off a typical sickness. This also means when you feel something coming on, take a nap as soon as you can. And when you’re sick, don’t lay in bed watching Netflix and don’t play video games or even read. Those things still tax your body to some extent and just delay recovery. Just sleep. If you can’t fall asleep, just keep lying there, eyes closed, and eventually you probably will. I can’t stress sleep enough. I went into many a nap feeling like something was attacking me, and woke up from the nap feeling completely normal. SLEEP!

 

If you have trouble sleeping in general, you can try what I use, which is an over-the-counter sleep aid called diphenhydramine. On the package it will just say something like “Sleep Aid” or “Sleep Aid PM” but the active ingredient of diphenhydramine is what to look for—it has been very effective to me. Of course, make sure it’s something you can medically take without any issues. A few things to note about using it: It’s best to take it 1.5-2 hours before you actually lay down to sleep because that’s when it really starts to kick in, and it will kick in pretty hard. It usually gives me 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, maybe getting up for the bathroom once but then falling right back asleep. However, it will make you groggy when you wake up, especially if you have to get up before the 7-8 hours of its effects are over. The grogginess is very noticeable and not fun, but it’s worth it to me for the deep sleep, since natural sleep aids like melatonin have never been very effective for me.

 

Related to sleep is the need to sleep in warm clothing. Last year I began the habit of sleeping with a beanie on my head. I had never done that before, and it seems coincidental that I also didn’t get sick. I’m now a huge believer. Most of the heat that escapes your body does so through your head and feet. So sleep with a hat on when the weather is cold or your house is cool, and sleep with heavy socks on. Also, the part of your body besides those two to focus on keeping warm the most is your chest. I will often fall asleep with my arms folded on my chest, circulating additional body heat in my chest area. This conserves heat and helps your body exert less energy to keep your chest (where your heart is) warm. So to review, sleep in a knit hat, thick socks, and focus on keeping your chest warm.

 

Flu shot. The last couple years I have started to take this seriously after my dad leaned on me about it. They are usually no more than $10 at your local pharmacy or grocery store, and might even be free under your insurance. Yes, I don’t like needles, and yes, the site of the shot hurts for a few days. But this is a small price to pay for the misery of flu symptoms like vomiting, severe aches and pains, headache, and others, not to mention using up sick time at work and unexpectedly having to buy Gatorade, Sprite, chicken soup, etc. especially when you don’t feel like going to the store or you have to ask someone to go for you because you keep throwing up. Short of a medical reason to not get the flu shot, you should get it. I know there is always a chance you get a different flu than the one the shot is designed for, but reduce your chances of getting any flu by getting the shot. I try to get it no later than mid-November because it takes a few weeks for your body to adapt to the dead flu virus contained in the shot. You want your immunity up and running by the time all the Christmas parties and travel stress arrive. Really, getting it as soon as they start issuing it, which I think is mid to late October, is best.

 

Vitamins. I have no way of knowing if they actually contributed to being illness free, but I spend a little extra (you can get a good deal at Costco) to take multivitamins all year and a vitamin C supplement specifically during fall, winter, and early spring.

 

Stay hydrated. Hydration is always important, but it’s especially important when your body is exerting itself trying to ward off all sorts of germs. Drink plenty of water. Generally your water intake is optimal when your urine is clear or close to it.

 

So there you have it, some tips I used last year, and will be using in perpetuity, to keep myself illness free. All that time spent not being sick is time you can spend on other things that are important to you. So make use of these tips, and best of luck this fall & winter.

Review: Prepping, Part 2

Trump had won, and my feared doomsday scenarios had not come to pass. However, there immediately arose the self-styled “Resistance,” as well as government insiders (soon to be termed the “Deep State”), who were intent on thwarting Trump at every turn or even driving him from office. Still, with the election over, I breathed a sigh of relief.

 

The next major hurdle was the inauguration. I was particularly concerned someone would try to assassinate Trump during the inauguration, such as while he was giving his inaugural speech at the Capitol. I was asked by the president of the student association at GW that I was serving on to be one of a handful of students who would attend an inaugural event put on by Politico, as a representatives of our school. I accepted, but was a little concerned about being in D.C. if chaos unfolded.

 

The event was held at the rooftop level of the W hotel next to the White House. I saw protestors on the other side of the W at the fences blocking off the inaugural parate route. They had locked arms so that people couldn’t pass through the fence to attend the parade. One held a sign that said, in Russian, “Not my president,” a reference to the newly-minted liberal scapegoat theory that Russian hacking had won Trump the election.

 

Later when I got home and posted the photos, a friend saw the human barrier and amusingly commented, “So they do like walls.”

 

 

When I finally got in and got to the coat check, I had planned ahead of time that I would have to be separated from my coat during the event (a nice black Calvin Klein pea coat I got at Men’s Wearhouse for $80, a good deal), and I had a few survival items I wanted on my person at all times. So, I stuffed them into my suit jacket pockets. I surrendered my coat and headed to the elevator in the gilded hotel lobby. I head a medical face mask on me in the event of tear gas (to dispel a riot) or, God forbid, a chemical or biological attack, either from disgruntled leftists or from Islamic terrorists. I had a snack on me also, cash, earplugs in case of loud rioting, and one or two other things. I knew I would not be able to take much.

 

I got upstairs to the top level of the building, where I met my handful of fellow students. We commenced mingling. The president of my org asked me to do some social media posting for our Twitter and Insta accounts, so I did, which was great for me because I’m an introvert and was totally sick of the networking scene of DC, which basically consists of 2+ people yelling past each other over the noise while sipping drinks that aren’t that good. I had already decided by this time that I was only taking one more class at GW, and that I never wanted to live in or work in D.C. I did join a few conversations though, in between the televised inaugural events. One of my friends and fellow students, we’ll call him Alex, found a student who was in one of his other classes (Alex and I had been in several classes together) and together we laughed about various crazy moments from the entire 2016 primary and general cycles. I respected Alex because although he was a liberal, I could at least talk politics with him without getting scolded for voting for Trump. People like that are all too rare in D.C. Perhaps it’s because he was not from the area, and his family, to my knowledge, was not part of the Swamp. He had been a lawyer out in SoCal and decided to make a career change into politics, and came to GW.

 

I was very pleased to see Rev. Franklin Graham give an opening prayer before Trump’s speech. I drank that in, and I thought about the DC elite and future elite around me who probably had no concept of what I was feeling while watching Rev. Graham’s prayer and statements. I caught myself thinking, “That’s right, Swamp Creatures, for 364 days this year you can forget all about flyover Americans, but today you are forced to look at us and acknowledge our existence!”

 

Trump gave his speech, and thankfully no shenanigans occurred. When it was over, he and Melania walked Barack and Michelle Obama to the South Lawn and the latter boarded Marine One, which took them to Andrews AFB across the Potomac. Anticipating their flight path, I hurried to a window and managed to capture a photo of their helicopter flying past! Let me tell you, it was a very welcome sight. Bye bye Barry. I texted the photo to my dad and gave him permission to post it to Facebook with an accompanying witticism. He said he would let one of his friends do the honors—this friend basically epitomized the conservative middle-aged white male ex-mil stereotype to the T and I knew he would do us proud.

 

I did some more mingling in between speeches and social media posting on my phone for my org, and eventually said goodbye to my friends and left. The parade was in progress, but I frankly didn’t want to wait for President Trump to reach our location. I was nervous and wanted to get out of town, especially with Beltway traffic to worry about. So, I got my coat, left the W, and hoofed it to the nearest red line metro stop. New York Avenue was completely empty—a bizarre sight—due to being barricaded off. I made it home without incident.

 

After the inauguration, my pace of acquiring prepper items slowed. At this point I had most of the things I wanted to have, and I didn’t want to spend more money on it. At GW, my team won a social media contest and I received a $125 Amazon gift card, which I used some of to buy a few remaining items I wanted: More medical masks, glowsticks, and mortar and pestle, and one or two other things.

 

The next prepping scenario that arose was the threat of a nationwide set of riots on November 4th and 5th, 2017. This was all over the internet and I watched every YouTube video about it I could that I thought might give me valuable information. Basically, the left wing group Refuse Fascism was calling for a day of nationwide protests. It was also being said that Antifa was going to make a major move in our cities on that day. This was roughly one year since Trump was elected, and it also coincided with the meme of the “Fifth of November” from V for Vendetta, in which the protagonist blows up the UK Parliament as a strike against the totalitarian regime. Additionally, the Great American Solar Eclipse had happened not much earlier, and there were a lot of other possible signs and coincidences including planetary alignment (potential biblical prophecy) and other factors I learned about. Needless to say, I had plenty of reasons to be on edge about November 4th.

 

Part of the supplies I had bought back before the election were several pieces of dirt bike armor. It was both affordable and provided some level of protection in the event of a fistfight in a riot. I had armor for my arms, legs, and hard plastic knuckle dirt bike gloves (I checked the laws and metal knuckles are illegal in Maryland) just in case I had to fight my way out of some Anitfas or other rioters during civil unrest.

 

I accumulated a small burst of prepping items just before the 4th, including a respirator and the coup-de-grace of my suit of armor, a dirt bike helmet. Those helmets aren’t cheap—it was something like $70—but I returned it a couple days after the 4th was over and the feared riots had not occurred. It offered full-head protection, not just the top of the head like a bike helmet. One driver in my desire to get a helmet was a video I saw of protests at Berkeley in spring 2017, the one during the daytime where the conservatives actually beat back the liberals and forced them to retreat. At one point though, before the chase started, there was a guy wearing a red sriracha hot sauce shirt (you can look this up), arguing with liberal protestors. Someone, who was later ID’d as a faculty member, ran up and hit him on the head with a bike lock. The poor guy was in shock and was just standing there staring at the blood on this hands and clothes, because the hit had immediately drawn blood from of his head. Some people nearby surrounded him and had him lay down and to my knowledge he ended up being OK, but I did not want something like that to happen to me if I ended up fighting Antifa. Clearly, they have some bad apples on their side who don’t mind risking brain damage to shut down an argument.

 

I also saw some videos about liberal gun clubs. In one video, I saw a group of gun-toting socialists marching in formation down the street somewhere in Arizona, and a journalist was questioning them and arguing with them. The socialists were in fatigues with red bandanas and other socialist insignia. There were other videos with people talking about a potential Antifa uprising.

 

November 4th came and went, and the Refuse Fascism marches ended up being a total laughingstock, and Antifa didn’t try anything. I breathed a sigh of relief. There weren’t any big dates coming up on the political calendar, so I returned the helmet for a full refund.

 

Summer is always a worse time of year for crime and civil unrest. It remains to be seen what might happen this summer. However, although I am basically done buying prepping stuff except replacing some canned food I left in Maryland when I moved to New Mexico, I sleep better at night knowing I have some basics if something bad really happens. And I’ll say this: I’m way, way less concerned about an uprising out here in Albuquerque than when I was in Maryland, sandwiched between Baltimore and DC.

 

So in conclusion, some people take prepping way, way further than I have. There is no way to know if those people are wrong because we don’t know the future. I am comfortable with having spent around $500 over a period of over a year to acquire some basic supplies. If you are uneasy about the future, you might give it some thought. I am not here to persuade anyone to be a prepper, but I will share one thought that continually ran through my mind: Many nations have experience economic and social collapse. When the world becomes an unsafe place, the last thing you want is to have to leave your home to go stand in a bread line.

 

A great online forum about prepping can be found at www.survivalistboards.com and as far as I know it’s free to read.

Review: Prepping, Part 1

I’ve always been a little bit of a survivalist at heart. I thrive in the rugged landscapes of New Mexico, with its spiky plants, sometimes violent weather, crazy pests, and rustic panoramas. Yet it was only after I moved to lush, green, developed Maryland that I became an amateur prepper.

 

The 2016 election cycle was unlike any other. Then-candidate Trump’s initial comments about Mexico at his announcement speech set off the first of a long chain of firestorms. Seasoned conservatives like myself, used to a certain level of crazy from liberals, initially wrote it off as another liberal outburst. However, as Trump began to elaborate his views on various topics, tossing Molotov cocktails at the Left’s sacred cows, the usual liberal bloviation began to escalate. It wasn’t long before the Left had reach complete hysteria. Everything Trump said was suddenly the most offensive thing that had ever been uttered. The thing is, a lot of what he said made perfect sense to Flyover Americans whose imaginations had not been stunted by political correctness. Liberals were not self-aware enough to stop and question how and why they were so offended over his comments (and generally still aren’t). And so the cycle of mania continued.

 

Things seemed to have hit a crescendo with Trump’s call for a Muslim ban. I maintain that he partially did this to secure a victory in the South Carolina primary that was going on at the time. And win it he did. Over time, his Muslim ban de-escalated down to a travel ban on certain terror-prone countries which happened to be majority Muslim. But the liberals still haven’t forgiven him for the original proposal.

 

This combined with his border wall and his many other offenses continued to drive rage among the Left. We began seeing more and more riots, political violence, destruction of property on college campuses, and street fights between Trumpists and the Hard Left. Similar scenes were unfolding in some European countries as well, like Germany.

 

Around this time I began to wonder how much worse things would get. My mind flashed back to the Baltimore riots, which occurred at the beginning of May 2015, only a 30-40 minute drive from where I lived. I had never seen a riot like that in an American city before (I was too young to remember the LA riots in the 90’s). The Baltimore riots, sparked by the death of Freddie Gray in the custody of the police, created a two day period of complete breakdown in certain parts of inner city Baltimore. I remember watching the news footage and seeing firemenn trying to put out a fire. A masked man in all black ran up, cut a hole in the hose, and ran off. This was on the first day of the riots, before the night the city actually burned.

 

The next day, I was at my brother’s wedding, and the best man, who is more well-read in politics than either of us, explained that career anarchists try to exploit situations like the one in Baltimore in order to collapse society usher in anarchy. The idea of a “career anarcist” blew my mind. As I did more and more of my own research, and Antifa simultaneously began to rear its ugly head, I grew concerned about where far left hysteria was leading, especially if Trump were to win.

 

So it was the threat of civil disorder and breakdown, not natural disasters or other typical factors, that got me thinking about prepping. I knew little about prepping except what I had heard and seen clips of on shows like Doomsday Preppers. I knew there were people who had huge storehouses of canned food in their basement, and I knew that people in rural Montana wanted to live “off the grid.” My journey into (what I would consider amateur) prepping began with basic internet searches on what emergency supplies I should have, and with a copy of American Survival Guide I happened to glimpse in Bass Pro Shops one day back then. It actually had a feature on rioting, which I devoured. My prepper mindset had begun. I started to live with the constant awareness in the back of my mind, and often in the front of my mind, that if society collapsed or the electrical grid failed, things would get real ugly real fast.

 

I was a little surprised to find the plethora of prepper and survivalist websites that existed online. But I quickly snapped out of it: “Wait, this is the internet. Every topic gets blown up into its own universe of websites.” So I dove in. I began to make a list of survival supplies I wanted, and quietly gathered them over the next several months. This started probably June of 2016 and I was “on the clock” to be done by November 7, the day before the election. I was still getting my Master’s at GW at the time, and I sometimes carted the latest American Survival Guide magazine (I had subscribed) to campus with me to read on the metro. I even bought John Wesley, Rawles’ book Patriots, but it proved way too dense and technical for me to make it past the first couple of chapters. (That first chapter though…scary!) I kept my prepping a total secret until right before the election. As I gathered my supplies over the months, I told no one, although I dropped small hints here and there and I think one or two people had an idea.

 

An amazing thing happened after I had assembled my first real collection of basic prepper supplies. I slept better at night. If the economy crashed and there was no food left in the stores, I had probably a month’s worth of food and water, from canned food to MREs to cereal to jugs of water to a Lifestraw for the pond behind my place. This meant I could go a full month without leaving my house if the world became too dangerous. I read online news like a hawk in those days (too much, really) and watched for any sign of impending trouble. I watched footage of the latest riots at university campuses, studying the tactics of the left wing attackers, and read the latest demands of deluded left wing groups. They were getting more and more hateful and vitriolic. It seemed like the various figureheards of the far left could not top themselves fast enough, as if they were competing with each other for share of voice on social media by saying more and more hateful things to get attention (which I’m sure was and is a factor). For example, it’s not enough for white people, or Christians, or men, to do X to expiate their oppressor nature; now they must do Y to appease the anger of deranged lefties. But next month, they have to do Z, and on it goes.

 

For my 30th birthday, my brother got me the SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman. I think he knew I was doing some prepping because he bought me this. I had mentioned having gone to a military surplus store in Rockville MD and liking it, which I think gave it away. SAS Survival Handbook is a great book, full of practical knowledge and color illustrations, and I highly recommend it. As I began to think more about a “grid-down situation,” where refrigeration and conventional cooking would be unavailable, I read about how to find edible vegetation, fruits, and nuts. There was a big ravine behind my place that I sometimes walked in and I started imagining how I could forage there. What would the world be like if I had to navigate a concrete jungle alone, eating fruits and nuts and vegetables for survival? These were common thoughts for me at the time, even as I was sitting in a crowded DC subway in a suit trying to make my way home from school at night.

 

The day before the election, I let my mom and dad know simply that I had enough non-perishable food in the house to not have to go outside for a few days should something bad happen. I didn’t want them to worry about me, especially if cell phone service and the internet went down. My car had some supplies in it in case I got caught out somewhere due to a riot. In fact, I took the day after the election off work—planned well ahead of time—so that I would not have to leave the house that day. I stayed up until about 3 AM when they officially called it for Trump, and went to bed happy…after checking the news for signs of rioting.

 

The next day, there were no riots serious enough to worry about. However, as we all know, Trump’s campaign and his victory was just the beginning for left wing hysteria.

 

To be continued…