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The two of you probably have a system already worked out for when one of you gets sick -- maybe some chicken-soup-fetching is involved, or the healthy partner takes over the household duties for a while. But what do you do when the flu -- either H1N1 or regular -- throws a major curveball into your common cold routine?
Who gets control of the bed?
If you're the patient: Congratulations! We officially grant you full ownership of the bed to writhe, roll, and sweat out your fever. We've all been there, and there's no way you should have to relocate. Why? The Center for Disease Control recommends keeping the sick person away from others to eliminate any risk of contagion. Keep the room door closed and use a different bathroom. We recommend using paper towels to dry your hands instead of household towels to cut down on laundry since anything you touch while you're sick will have to be washed thoroughly on a hot setting before its sharable again.
If you're the caretaker: Do you really want to share a bed with a sneezing, wheezing sweat factory, anyway? Take the couch for a few nights! It's much easier to wash the sheets on your bed than the couch cushions, and you should be the one doing the washing, anyway. Trust us; your patient will one day return the favor.
How much babying is expected?
If you're the patient: You probably just want to curl up in the fetal position and be taken care of, but your partner's probably doing the best he or she can. Translation: stop ringing that damn bell when you run out of OJ.
If you're the caretaker: Time to step up your game and play Dr. McDreamy for a few days. Tissues, juice, and soup are in order.
Is sex okay?
If you're the patient: In a word, nope -- not even if you're feeling up to it. Here's why: you'll spread your germs.
If you're the caretaker: We know it's hard, but really, is that runny nose or wheezy breathing so hot? Really can't hold out? Wait until the fever is below 100, avoid face-to-face contact, and don't be surprised if you catch the same flu.
What about the case of the terrible tissues?
If you're the patient: Okay, we know you're sick, but don't just throw your tissues on the floor (yes, people do this). Throw those suckers away immediately after use.
If you're the caretaker: Just put a trash can by the bed!
Should I leave the house?
If you're the patient: Where exactly do you think you're going? Get back in bed! The CDC recommends that people with flu-like symptoms stay at home until at least 24 hours after they're fever-free (a temperature of less than 100 F).
If you're the caretaker: Looks like you're playing valet for a while. Put on your most comfortable sneakers, gas up the car, and get ready to run some errands. On your agenda? The pharmacy for some tissues, anti-bacterial gel, Tylenol, and anti-bacterial hand soap and the grocery store for any foods your patient requests (soup and Gatorade may be first on your list!).
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