Man Flu? The Female Version's The Killer Strain!

Posted at 18:18pm on 6th October 2008


I don’t know about Man Flu, but I’ve definitely been suffering with the female version this week. You know the sort of thing? Having hardly slept overnight, you wake up on Monday morning feeling utterly ghastly: stuffed ears feeling as though they’ve been pumped full of the insulating foam that lines the cavity walls of your house (unless you happen to have shares in British gas); throat behaving as though you’ve swallowed a golf ball, if not a tennis ball; head exploding; and nose like a blocked drain in need of a plumber and a plunger.


But hey! You’re female. You gotta get out of bed. The washing – which didn’t get done over the weekend because you were trying to reduce the ironing pile before adding to it again – awaits you on the bathroom floor, scattered, because the family, if they noticed it at all, simply took it to be a novelty bath mat. If you work from home, as I do – job-sharing with my husband – there’s no way you’re going to get out of sitting in front a computer for at least part of every day. You groan.


Your mother rings. ‘You sound terrible’, she says. But as she continues you realise that this is not so much sympathy for you, as recognition on her part that you’re not going to be a blind bit of use to her because she doesn’t want to get what you’ve got. You love her to bits, and you realise that at her great age, her needs are probably greater than yours, but what answers can you give her when she’s desperately in need of holiday from your father and his dementia, but there’s no one else to look after him and guilt prevents her from putting him into respite care. You listen, make what you intend to be soothing noises but actually sound more like a bull-frog in the mating season, and try to reinforce what your sister’s been telling her. Then your sister rings! ‘What do you think we should do about Mum, Mel?’ You’d like to be a time-traveller and give essence of Death Cap (per Samantha Blythe’s blog) to both your sister and Alexander Graham Bell. Life could be sweet without the phone.


Your daughter rings to ask if you’re well-enough to cope with the twins next day because she’s on a course. ‘Of course,’ you lie. ‘What time does it end?’ She tells you to have an early night, to look after yourself, and you know, because she’s a mother, that she understands the futility of such advice. Next morning, she brings you her inhaler, and you hang your head over a rising mist of menthol which scrapes the skin off the back of your throat more effectively than nitro mores on varnish. The twins, fortunately, are subdued. Perhaps it’s the sight of grandma’s red shiny nose, and scarecrow hair that make them look askance, as if she’s a stranger to them.


Your husband buys you some of those decongestants that make your tongue feel as if it’s been hanging around the Sahara Desert for the last decade, and points out, lovingly, that they’re the non-drowsy sort. You don’t tell him, but you long for the drowsy sort which will give you the excuse of dropping off on the sofa after lunch. And then you spend night two in a state of demented hyperactive sleeplessness – only to discover that the non-drowsy formula is the cause.

By Wednesday your limbs are aching nearly as much as your ear, throat, jaw, teeth, neck and head. Is this the result of the flu you deny you have, or your fight with the duvet, the pillow and the mattress? After a cocktail of meds, you feel sick to your stomach, and the idea of falling under a bus seems infinitely more appealing than the (unlikely) offer of a holiday in Hawaii would be. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday run into each other in a sticky pool of snot and nausea.


Then comes Monday again. Today! And another blog due. Hey, you think, I’ll just let my readers know that I’m a little off colour, and ask them if they’ll mind if I keep it short and sweet for now – just a sentence or two. So this is it folks. Sorry to let you down. Hope to be back with you properly tomorrow. Everyone I speak to lately seems to have been poorly. Let me know how you've fared.

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