Apr 27, 2012

Sickness, Soup and Sensitivity: give me a heroic bedside manner!

I'm coming to you from the House of Lurgy today - the dreaded red, sore croaky throat bug has invaded. The husband and eldest are first afflicted and I suspect more are soon to fall...

Sore throats suck I think - sure they're not the worst illness in the world by any stretch! But they're very painful and while they're around they affect every action - hurt when you breathe, swallow and above all, try to eat - something very important to me!!!!

Soup - by Simon Howden.
So my nine year old is spending her second day home from school, curled up on the sofa under a rug, reading her favorite books in front of the fire. It's Autumn/Fall here and rain has settled in to keep us company today. I'm plying her with an odd combination of broccoli soup and lemonade. Guess which of the two she prefers!!! Really, it's not so bad - especially when she has Doting Mum on hand to provide for her every wish... (poor hubby is on a business trip away and suffering in stoic silent solitude).

Sickness often crops up in category romance - where either hero or heroine is laid low for a few days and we get to see how the other character copes and cares for her/him. It can show a lot about the relationship, especially in the earlier stages where perhaps any idea of 'relationship' between the two is being fiercely resisted!!!

I confess I rather love the idea of having a big strong hero swooping in to take care of me when I'm feeling poorly. How nice would it be to cuddle in to a broad, warm chest and be held close... But then pride rears up and I think - eeeeeuuuu--would I really want the guy I'd quite like to impress see me all sweaty and feverish?! Or worse, throwing up!

It's a plot point I've used myself. In REBEL WITH A CAUSE, very early in the story Sophy comes across Lorenzo who's mortified to be laid low with tonsillitis and a flu bug and no way does he want Sophy hanging round and 'helping'. So Sophy doesn't. She knows this guy isn't going to take that from her so she goes a step further and hires a nurse to care for him in that first twenty-four hours when the fever was at it's peak. He hates her for it, but he'd have hated it more in that part of their relationship for him to see him so weak - allowing himself to be vulnerable around her isn't something that he can do until much later.

I remember reading an old Lucy Walker as a teen (Lucy Walker wrote the most fabulous romances set in the Australian outback - I read them a billion times) - and I clearly remember one in which the heroine gets a snake bite and spends the night in a terrible fever. It was at a very bad patch in the relationship between her and the hero (she thinks he hates her and resents her being there) - but when she wakes she sees his stretcher has been pulled right close to hers, she remembers someone putting a cool facecloth on her forehead and giving her sips of water through the night... And we see the hero later looking very tired from that worry and lack of sleep... lovely stuff!!!!

So how do you feel about the hero or heroine getting ill within a romance?! Do you like seeing how the other literally cares for her/him?! Do you like that fantasy of having a gorgeous hero to wipe your brow or does it make you shudder in humiliation?!

And most importantly (from my daughter who's 'sick' of broccoli soup) what food and or drink do you think is the best medicine for a sore throat!!!


  1. Hi Natalie, your poor daughter- sore throats are horrid! Honey in warm water and some lemon juice can help soothe (plus a tot of whiskey for the adult version!). My husband is a GP and he always recommends plain old fashioned paracetamol to ease the pain- and says a child should eat just what they feel like eating! (that always goes down well in our house! Ice cream always works a treat!).

    Having a doctor for a husband isn't always so helpful, though- if I'm ever ill he never takes it seriously- I mean, he's seen a lot worse, right? So I can't remember ever laying my fevered brow on his chest LOL. He'd say I was being far too dramatic!

  2. I'm just recovering from one of the worst cases of sore throat and cough that I've ever had. I rested in bed, drank plenty of fluids and my wonderful husband bought me hot and sour soup from our local Chinese take out place. Also had tons of chicken noodle soup. No ice cream. :(

    I used to read tons of historical books and quite often the hero was laid low with fever and the heroine nursed him through.

    Recently read a book where the heroine's child threw up on the hero and he didn't react badly. I loved that. I think it's all in how the author handles the illness issue.

    This is off topic but I'd like to tell Soraya, if she's around, that I loved how she handled the infidelity issue in Back in the Soldier's Arms. I wasn't sure she could take this issue and make a believable and enjoyable book out of it. She aced it as far as I was concerned.

  3. Natalie, I just found my copy of your first book, and I'm sure that had a gorgeous hero looking after a sick heroine, didn't it??

    Kaelee - thanks! You don't know how much it means to me to see your message :) I really appreciate your kind words, especially on Back in the Soldier's Arms, because it was so hard to write. Even though it was tough going emotionally to write though, it's one of my favorites!


  4. Hi Natalie

    I have four kids aged 7-13, and the best product to clear up a sore throat (almost overnight) is to gargle around one teaspoon of mouthwash, then to take a second teaspoon and swallow it slowly. The swallowed mouthful kills the bacteria in the back of the throat where the gargling doesn't reach, and allows for fast healing. Do this at night before bed, then again in the morning. Works a real treat on adults too. (PS, my doctor said swallowing 5ml is not harmful--I did check with him first before I ever tried it, and yay, we all survived and thrived.)

    Joanne Wadsworth

  5. A bit of TLC in a romance can be very sweet. Wiping the fevered brow!! It can add a little something extra to a story & highlight a different side to a character.

    My daughter is on antibiotics for her sore throat right now. It's nasty, poor love. She loves freshly squeezed orange juice. I figure the acid might kill a few bugs on the way down.

  6. ((Hugs)) for your poor 9yo! Our 9yo is home for the second day with a sore throat too. And you know, she'd probably enjoy brocolli soup! lol
    I think the idea of a man caring for you when you're sick is gorgeous. Maybe that's why doctors make such great heroes!

  7. At first sign of a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water. Sometimes it prevents it getting worse. If you already have a sore throat, the gargle can be soothing.

  8. Oh, cold germs. Hate them. I'm with Chey - warm, salty water swilled around the mouth works a treat, but to make you feel better definitely something cold like ice cream or an ice block.

    Personally I love the idea of being waited on and looked after if I got really unwell. I don't see why a heroine wouldn't like it too.

    Hope the lurgy leaves your place soon.

  9. I'm with Chey and Annie - gargling with luke warm salty water.

    Also, eating raw onion: cut a slice from the middle of the onion, then cut that into quarters. The middle bits of those quarters are the very middle of the onion and they're not horrible (in fact, they're almost sweet). Chew them slowly and try not to have anything else after for a while so the onion juice stays on your throat.

    I'm requesting broccoli soup next time I'm sick!