I apologize if this has already been mentioned, but it is late and I haven't read the whole thread. If you are the sick person, consider appointing someone you trust as your PR Representative. Tell everyone to call them for the latest update or to arrange visiting. That way you can decide if you are in the mood for discussing your illness or not. If you don't want to see someone on a particular day, you don't have to be the one to tell them.
I recently went to the NYC Bookclub and there were lovely signs on the tables saying "reserved for The Hairpin," but just in case, I had put my hair up using --wait for it -- hairpins, and was planning on pulling one out and holding it up meaningfully at people until I achieved the desired response.
Oooh, this is great. As the mother of a 1 year old, the idea of meeting snazzy women for book talk sounds like a slice of heaven. Off to send email to join right now!
On Milk News
Some friends and I did a blind tasting of milks a few years ago and the winner was organic and NOT ultra pasteurized. It's a brand called Eco-Meal. If I remember correctly it is a cooperative of Amish farmers. It tasted like pudding! I buy it whenever I get the chance, but it's not always easily available here in Brooklyn, NY. Oh and it's great for making yogurt so I imagine it would solve some of the cheese problems mentioned above.