Trevor Laffan: A bout of man-flu that KO’d me - but did I get any sympathy?!

Trevor Laffan recalls a bout of man-flu in his weekly column
Trevor Laffan: A bout of man-flu that KO’d me - but did I get any sympathy?!

Wives and families just don’t seem to appreciate the agonies of man-flu, says Trevor Laffan. Picture, iStock posed by model.

WHILE I was in the depths of man-flu recently, I saw lots of advertisements on TV offering advice about end-of-life issues.

They were warning me to be prepared for the rising cost of nursing home care and the expense of funerals, burials, cremations, etc. They were also popping up on the laptop and on my phone telling me to be ready for the end.

I was beginning to wonder if they knew something I didn’t.

It was all a bit grim, but on the other hand, they do have a point. The only two certainties in life are death and taxes so none of us will escape, and I became very conscious of this while lying on my death bed, waiting to meet my maker.

My wife said it was just a head cold and showed little interest in my condition, but I knew otherwise. It was a serious dose of man-flu. I had a cough, a stuffed head and a sore throat and my life was hanging by a thread. It was touch and go.

I didn’t get much sympathy from my family and, in a way, that’s understandable. You see, women don’t appreciate the suffering us men go through from this horrendous illness because we keep it to ourselves. It’s our own fault.

How can we expect them to know the extent of our suffering when we don’t tell them what man-flu is really like? We are blessed with a high pain threshold and prefer to suffer in silence. Rather than be a burden, we just battle on quietly without causing a fuss.

That’s how it was with me and, as usual, I got very little support. They seemed to think my deteriorating condition was a form of entertainment and I’m sure I even heard them laughing downstairs on several occasions.

They never called a doctor or arranged palliative care and the only medication I was offered was a Lemsip. 

There was lots of eye rolling going on and they even suggested I should get out of bed.

In the height of my delirium, my wife was rushing around getting ready for work and never even thought to bring me some breakfast in bed. She never checked my temperature either, which was obviously spiralling out of control, but I struggled on manfully.

When she left, I made a huge effort to get up and tidy the house. I made my way cautiously downstairs and struggled to make some breakfast for myself. I didn’t want to add starvation to my growing list of ailments. It’s amazing how resilient men can be when faced with adversity.

After the breakfast, I spotted some clothes in the washing machine and contemplated putting them out on the line. I weighed up the pros and cons and decided, if I dressed appropriately to keep warm, I could just about manage it. Hypothermia was a genuine concern for a person in my weakened state, so I decided to bring my phone with me to summon assistance in case I collapsed from exhaustion.

So, I put the clothes in the basket, went outside and made it to the line. It was a bit cloudy, and I wondered if I had badly miscalculated. Getting caught in a shower of rain could finish me off, but I hung on bravely and finished the task.

It was time for a well-earned rest after that, so I headed for the recliner.

Later that afternoon, I ventured out again and brought the clothes back in. I gave them a short run in the dryer before folding them nicely and placing them on the counter.

Surely this would earn me a pat on the back when herself came home from work. It wasn’t to be though.

As soon as she came in the door, she looked at the clothes and then looked at me and asked if I noticed anything? I knew by the look and the tone of voice that trouble wasn’t far away.

Apparently, there was a smell off the clothes but because my nasal passages were almost completely ravaged due to my deteriorating condition, I hadn’t noticed.

It seems my wife had put the clothes into the machine before she left for work, but never turned it on, which meant I had put a load of dirty washing on the line, dried them and folded them neatly.

After more eye rolling, she put the clothes back into the machine while mumbling something I couldn’t quite understand. It didn’t sound very complimentary though.

The efforts of the day had taken their toll and I could feel a relapse coming on, so I went for another lie down. While lying there with my life ebbing away, I had time to reflect. I realised that, even if by some miracle I did manage to pull through, I could very well end up needing full time care at some point in the future, and so I discussed it with my family.

I told them if it gets to a stage that I can no longer look after myself or I can’t tell night from day, or can’t take a shower by myself, then I want to go somewhere. I don’t want them dealing with the stress of having to look after me. Let the professionals take over and don’t waste a single minute feeling guilty or sorry about it. They nodded and looked as if they were trying hard not to smile, which made me suspect they had already come to that decision themselves.

I got the impression that guilt was not going to be an issue for them. In fact, I suspect they may already have a facility picked out for me, so from now on I’m going to have to sleep with one eye open.

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