Man Flu

24 October 2012

I can’t write a blog this week, sorry. My head aches, my sinuses are aflame and even my knees ache, for crying out loud. I’m inclined to wrap myself up in a duvet and spend the next week watching bad chat shows, cookery programmes and whatever else is on daytime TV.

Needless to say, my wife is on hand to soothe the fevered brow, gently massage my feet and bring me a regular supply of snacks, etc, and to plump up the extra cushions I need to make watching reruns of Floyd on Fish on the Culinary Experience Extra channel slightly more bearable. Actually that was just wishful thinking on my part. Mrs B is a hard and cruel woman, and her cold-hearted laughter is the sharpest pain.

‘You’ve got man flu.’

‘Man flu? Have I, hell! I’m at death’s door, woman. Summon me a doctor, or a nurse, or a midwife, or something,’ I plead to no avail.

Sometimes it’s tough being a man. It’s enough to make a man want to buy a guitar and sit at a crossroads singing the deepest blues imaginable. It’s the stuff that we chaps have to live with, like the superfluous fluff that starts curling out of your ears just as it stops sprouting on top, not to mention the mid-life crisis angst.

I’ve seen friends and acquaintances adorn themselves with absurd pseudo-Celtic tattoos, dump their wives for youthful girlfriends who rapidly get bored with these old farts, or else they buy the massive motorbikes they dreamed about and couldn’t afford as teenagers. I had my mid-life crisis ages ago and it consisted of writing a book, as I wanted to see if I could do it. So my mid-life crisis was actually quite an interesting, positive experience and thankfully it didn’t involve tattoos, teenage girls or motorbikes.

Then there’s man flu and the cackling, superior ridicule that the female half of the population reserve for this debilitating condition that they can’t possibly understand. Fair enough, all that childbirth stuff must be a tad uncomfortable, but surely it can’t possibly rival the misery of a snuffly nose, throbbing temples and that agony of being unable to drag yourself from the sofa? Reaching for the TV remote is fraught with pain and a visit to the bathroom becomes an ordeal almost on a par with trekking to the North Pole on a pogo stick.

The sooner man flu becomes a recognised and fully understood medical condition, the sooner the world will be a better place. The initial stage of man flu is an indeterminate feeling of being ‘not quite right’ accompanied by a tickling in the nose and that sure-fire indicator, the occasional thunderous sneeze.

As the role of carer inevitably falls to the sufferer’s wife or girlfriend, so much pain could be avoided if the women in our lives could recognise these symptoms before the sufferer succumbs, encouraging the hapless chap to take it easy on the sofa when his natural instinct is to struggle through regardless.

The main stage of full-blown man flu can last anything from three days to a week, with any symptoms severely exacerbated by thoughtless sarcasm or any drop in the sympathy level. It’s vital to maintain a constant flow of chicken soup, biscuits and the occasional tot of whisky, and to massage the sufferer’s feet and gently stroke his forehead at suitable intervals.

The final, painful recovery stage can be a long battle for the sufferer to return to normality. Relapses are common and frequently occur when a thoughtless significant other suggests carrying out some menial household task, imagining that while the outward symptoms are less visible, that the sufferer is not hurting deeply inside.

Maintaining the steady supply of suitable comfort food at this stage is critical, as any interruption can propel the sufferer straight back to that life-threatening second stage and the whole illness can be prolonged by a further week, at least.

One of the most underrated and accurate tools in determining the depth of the sufferer’s man flu is self-diagnosis. Ladies, if your chap feels a little bit achy or has a bit of a snuffle, then it’s critical to indulge him. The carer should get him to the nearest sofa as soon as possible and force the TV remote between his nerveless fingers before heading for the nearest emporium of suitable comfort food.

I reckon I’m at day three of stage one, with the symptoms of full-blown stage two about to kick in. So it could be a long haul. That’s why I can’t write anything for the blog this week, and next week, when I should be in that delicate recovery stage, looks doubtful as well.

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