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Man Flu - Will They Ever Find a Cure?

First, I feel it's worth mentioning that, at the time I wrote this blog, my husband was afflicted with the man flu, and he's the one who suggested I write about it. I asked if he was sure, because I would probably make fun of him, and he said, “Sure. Go for it.”

Confidence is so sexy, isn’t it?

If you’re a guy with fragile feelings, you might want to stop reading right now. I am about to do a deep dive into the Man Flu, from a woman’s, specifically, a wife’s, perspective. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

We’ll wait…

Are they gone? Okay, here we go.

Some time in our teens, women enter the mysterious world of the menstrual cycle. It’s like a club you always knew you’d be in, whether you wanted to join or not. A club for which you go through a thirty, forty, maybe even fifty-year hazing process. And by hazing process I mean…monthly cramps, bloating, irritability, etc.

I have experienced the sheer joy of pregnancy (twice). Seriously, I loved being pregnant. Probably because I never had to deal with morning sickness. Oh, sure, I got a little green whenever I smelled pork frying, but who wouldn’t. Heck, I still do! And I fully embraced that whole eating-for-two thing. It was my favorite part! Oh, and feeling the baby move and kick and grow and all that other stuff...blah blah blah. But the eating-for-two thing was super AWE-SOME!

I endured the beauty *eye-roll* of natural childbirth (twice). Without so much as an aspirin, I’ll have you know. Immediately followed by the exhilaration and rapturous relief when it was finally all over. I had created what will be—assuming I didn't screw them up too badly—two decent, productive human beings to send forth into the world. Which, phew, they both turned out to be.

And just when things seemed to be leveling off, and life was going smoothly BAM, menopause. I could write an entire blog on the menace of menopause, and I likely will someday. For now, I’ll just say, it’s not for the faint of heart. Am I right, ladies?

As a woman, a mom, a wife, it is a given that we will sally forth through all challenges and difficulties.

Nursing mothers must nurse their infant, even if she hasn’t slept, showered, changed clothes, combed her hair, or brushed her teeth in three days, and is no longer able to form a coherent sentence. Whip it out momma—a hungry baby waits for no one.

Working mothers struggle to find the balance between too much time on the job and not enough time at home, or vice versa.

And, if by some curse of the gods, we happen to get sick in the middle of all this craziness, we forge ahead. We pop a couple of over-the-counter cold meds, shove a wad of tissues in our purse, cup holder, pocket, and desk drawer, then throw on a heavy sweater and charge ahead to take care of everyone else. Whether they need or want us to, is beside the point.

No one will notice your nose is the color of a ripe apple, and you would never dream of revealing that your head is about to explode, or that it feels like you have a bus parked on your chest. Because heaven forbid, we admit to being merely human.

Contrast all this to the man flu. The scourge of male society. The flu unlike any other. Worse

than any other. With symptoms vastly more horrific to those of any other. Growing a person inside your body then ejecting them through your lady portal? Surely, a breeze by comparison to the deadly-dangerous man flu.

Since he gave me the go-ahead, let’s chat about my husband. He’s probably one of the most brilliant guys I’ve ever met. Crazy smart guy and driven by an intense competitive nature. My biggest fan, yada-yada-yada.

He came down with the dreaded man flu and, instantly, the world stopped spinning on its axis. I’m surprised you didn’t feel it.

When I mentioned I had just gotten over a cold, these words actually came out of his mouth, “Yeah, but my cold is way worse than yours.” And, “There’s no way you felt this bad. No way.” Which was followed by shivering, a couple of coughs for effect, and lots of snorting and sniffling. Because god forbid he actually uses a tissue to blow his nose.

What is that about anyway? What is the aversion men have to blowing their nose? Does it have something to do with their mommies? Perhaps uncomfortable memories of having their mothers leaning over them saying, “Blow, honey.” Are they all allergic to the scent, or the paper used to make tissues? Are their noses more fragile and delicate than a woman's, or even small child's? Or, wait, maybe they don’t think it’s manly. Whatever it is, they’re wrong!

Blow your damn nose! Your co-workers in the surrounding cubicles don’t need or want to hear that all day. I don’t want to hear that!

*deep breath* Sorry, perhaps I’m the one with unresolved nose-blowing issues.

And why won’t they do anything to help themselves? Here is a classic exchange…

Him (shoulders slumped): I’m so tired.

Me: Go take a nap.

Him: Nah. (he drops into his recliner)

Me: You don’t even have to move. (points at the chair) You can just sleep right there.

Him: Nah. (dramatic shiver) Man, I'm cold. Is it cold in here? (he looks around, like the cold is something he'll be able to see sneaking up on him)

Me (lets loose with a combination sigh and eye-roll, as I go grab a sweater and his slippers): Here. (hands him the aforementioned sweater and slippers) And you should cover up.

Him: Where are the blankets? (starts making like he’s going to get up, but not really)

Me: Stay. I’ll get it. (pulls one from the bench four feet away)

Him: How long have those been there?

Me (seriously?): Always.

Him: Really? Huh. Thanks, honey. You’re the best. (taps his cheek to indicate he'd like a kiss as he's grabbing TV remote)

Me (another eye-roll): Whatever (I oblige)

For an instant, I feel like I’m channeling a 1950’s housewife. So, I sternly remind myself that I am a modern, professional woman and head into my home office. Which is great…accept when he stays home with the world's worst case of the man flu. And it is always the worst case. ALWAYS.

It’s like having a toddler in the house again. I’ll be typing away and, out of the blue, I’ll hear over-exaggerated sniffling and feel this looming presence near my doorway.

Him (blankie wrapped around his shoulders): What’cha doin’?

Me (doesn’t make eye contact): Working.

Him (takes a step closer): Working on what?

Me (still not making eye contact): My {insert project here}. (stops to look up) Did you need something?

Him (sniffling, with a pitiful man flu face, pulling his blankie tighter around himself): Do we have any cold medicine?

Me (hands still on the keyboard—a not-so-subtle hint): Did you look?

Him: Where?

Me: The same place we’ve kept them since the day we moved in together over thirty years ago.

Him (blank stare)

Me (Seriously. Did he just move into this house?): Under the sink in the guest bathroom

Him: Okay, thanks

A few minutes pass. “We don’t have any.”

I close my eyes, take a deep breath and remind myself that I love him. “They’re on the right side, top bin, toward the front in an orange and blue box.”

“Nope. None there.” He calls out, then shuffles to my office, dragging his hand under his nose like—well—a toddler.

Having lost my focus on what I'm writing, and cursing a blue streak in my head, I stomp into the bathroom, grab the cold meds from exactly where I said they’d be and slap them into his hand.

“Those weren’t there a second ago.” He mumbles, then fills a cup with water and, having ignored the instructions, begins to struggle with opening the blister pack. "This one's broken."

I love him. I love him. I love him.

I snatch it from his hand and immediately pop it open and drop two capsules into his palm.

"I hate taking pills. And I hate being sick.” He pouts.

To which I reply, "No one likes being sick. And trust me, I hate your being sick more than you do." But not for the reasons he thinks.

"Aw, thanks, honey." See?

Back in my office, I forcibly ignore my near-overpowering caregiver impulse and get back to work. An hour or so later, realizing the house is very quiet—too quiet—I go looking for the patient. I find him in our bedroom. He’s actually put himself to bed—and he's sleeping. Just like a grown-up! Color me shocked.

With great, rattling noises coming up from his throat and out his mouth, the cat curled up and purring next to him, I slowly back out of the room, leaving the door slightly ajar. Just in case he calls out from his death bed.

Perhaps now, the healing can begin. Please, please let it begin.

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