My husband is ill. He was travelling abroad last week, had a cold before he left, then returned with jet lag and immediately set off on his annual army lads get together weekend of too much alcohol. To be fair to him, he didn't look great before setting off and it wasn't one of those things he could blow off. He has returned from his weekend of merriment very, very poorly. I think he might actually, genuinely be ill this time. And it's not surprising. Curing of colds with several thousand gallons of lager isn't what the best GPs prescribe. But there you go.
Anyway, while he was off trying to drown his influenza bugs in neat spirits, I was left with the kids ... again...following a week of me being on my own with them while he was away. During the course of this week I've had long romantic interludes with the bog thanks to a delightful belly coupled with the constant nagging cloud of poorliness hovering over my head. But let's count the number of hours I spent swooning on the Chaise Longue of Death (or CLD as Katyboo calls it). Erm..uh...hmm...nope. Nada. Not one. Not because I am trying to impersonate Joan of Arc in my martyrdom. But because if I did lie down on the CLD, I'd have approximately 30 seconds before I had two small boys thinking I make a very good trampoline. And shortly after that I'd be getting snacks or wiping bottoms or trying to find grey clothes to turn son 1 into a mouse for the school play.
Like most mothers, being sick isn't an option. You just have to get on with it. This leads men to believe that we are never as poorly as they get when they're ill.
So here he is. At home. Off work. On the sofa. Sighing. Coughing. Sniffing. Sighing some more just in case you missed the first volley of sighs. Meanwhile, I've spent my day doing my usual charging about - making packed lunches, getting kids dressed and off to school, working like a demon all day, collecting children, playing with children, making supper, washing up after supper, doing laundry - all while feeling absolutely wretched, coughing and sniffing. There is nothing I'd like to do more than to crawl into bed, but I still have more work to do, kids to bath and get into bed, more laundry, more christmas cards to write and a teetering pile of ironing that needs seeing to. I might bin the last two come to think of it.
The problem with man flu is this: Whenever men get sick, they ALWAYS make out as though they're on death's door so when they really are sick, you don't quite believe them. It's the whole Peter and the Wolf malarkey isn't it? What's more, because as a woman, you NEVER get the benefit of being really sick or get to swan about on the CLD, you can't help but begrudge their ability to focus solely on their poorliness and nothing else. This results in one thing: Lack of Sympathy.
I have to dig deep, really deep to be sympathetic to my sick husband. And the poor man probably is really ill and in need of some sympathy. But I'm hard pressed to find even a sprinkling of compassion. Men need sympathy while lying on the CLD with man flu. If they don't get it, they sigh more and more loudly until you take notice and ask if they perhaps need something - like a slap around the head.
I sometimes wish I could become a sick man just once to know what it feels like. Perhaps men genuinely do get more sick than women. Perhaps they are less able to cope with pain, which is probably why women get to have the babies (men would get an epidural the minute they saw the little blue line appear on the pregnancy test). Perhaps it's their inability to multi-task that makes getting sick a sole occupation. Whatever it is, I would pay handsomely for someone to find a cure.