A couple of weeks ago, while camping in Utah, my boyfriend proposed. Unfortunately, I picked up a nasty bug on the trip, too, so instead of celebrating our engagement when we returned, I spent a week curled into the fetal position. And while my boyfriend — excuse me, fiancé — was sweet and helpful, it was my well-stocked home that really pulled me through. Getting ill from time to time is inevitable, so you might as well be prepared. Tucking away a few essentials makes a lot more sense than standing in line at the store when your temperature is spiking. Here are a few of my must-haves for when — doctor's orders — it's you and the couch for a couple of days. Do you have any tips for surviving sick time at home?
• Electrical heating pads are efficient, but dozing off with one can cause burns or fires. A hot water bottle will soothe your upset belly or sore back and maybe even ease you into sleep. It's also a treat on a chilly night, especially if it's wrapped in a cashmere cozy.
• I spent three straight days wrapped in wool blankets. If you have the space, a stash of thick blankets will cocoon you in warmth when you're feeling chilled from fever or frosty temperature. The softer and cozier, the better. If you've got something contagious, be sure to clean them when you're recovered!
• It's unlikely you're going to launder your sheets midway through a short bout of the flu, but a fresh pillowcase feels like heaven after a night of sweaty tossing and turning. Even if you're a one-sheet-set person, keep an extra pillowcase or two in the closet. If you're feverish, chill a pillowcase in the freezer for an instant cool-down.
• My next household splurge will definitely be high-quality pillows. That's all I was wishing for as my budget pillow seemed to gradually lose its will to fluff. It was flatter than my unwashed hair, and just as unappealing.
• The last thing you want to do when you're feeling really crummy is run to the drugstore. Sometimes you need relief right now. I keep a plastic box neatly stuffed with over-the-counter meds and herbal remedies for everything from the common cold to heartburn. Every year or so, I throw out the way-past-expired drugs and restock as soon as possible.
• I love having a carafe by the bedside for middle-of-the-night thirst attacks, but it also comes in handy when you're camped out on the couch. A full carafe by day's end will chide you, too. Didn't your doc tell you to drink plenty of water?
• Whenever bathtubs come up on Apartment Therapy, readers seem to fall yay or nay on the relevance of the tub in modern home design. I don't care how outdated the humble fixture becomes (unlikely!), it will always be a high-ranking priority for me. Nothing — and I mean nothing — soothes an aching body like a good soak, especially with Epsom salts thrown into the mix. A hot shower feels pretty fine, too, though.
• Even if you're all about takeout, you should always have a little something in your pantry (cause trust me, chow mein is tough on a tummy in turmoil). Canned soup works in a pinch, but in an ideal world, you'd have a container of homemade stuff in the freezer at all times.
• Since we don't have a TV right now, my laptop helped me cling to sanity when I wasn't sleeping. I don't think I could've made it through without watching the entire first season of The Walking Dead on Netflix (amazingly, my stomach held steadfast through the goriest scenes). Once I was feeling on the mend enough to sit upright, I was insanely grateful for the many magazines piled near my front door.
• My last tip, and this one is totally optional, is to adopt a fluffy golden retriever. It turns out that my crazy pup Quatchi — who usually can't stay still for five minutes — is the best buddy ever, which I finally realized after he insisted on spending every moment curled by my side. Quatchi didn't used to be allowed on the bed. Now future hubby and I have an exception: If we're sick, the dog stays.
MORE HEALTH & HOME TIPS ON APARTMENT THERAPY
• Staying Flu-Free When Everyone Else in the House is Sick
• How To: Make Your Own Soothing Bath Soak
• Ah-choo! Coping With a Sick Roommate
Image: Kyle & Erin's U Street One Bedroom with a View