Men get a bad rap when it comes to having the flu. Somewhere along the ages it was decided that ‘man-flu’ is some sort of faux-illness that men suffer from in order to get an exaggerated amount of sympathy from loved ones. Well, fuck that. You see, I don’t have anyone to give me any sympathy and I’ve been bed-ridden and feeling like absolute shit for over a week now. And I’m not just talking the ‘sniffles’ and a mild headache. I’m talking fall-down dizziness, migraines, vomiting, frozen chills while sweating like a hardcore nudist in the house-of-commons and a complete lack of appetite. And for someone who likes to eat, and eat well, that might be the most distressing of all.
Who was it that coined the phrase ‘man-flu’ anyway? Why is it women get all the sympathy when it comes to pain – and sure I’ll give them child-birth, that’s a given, but I get kidney stones, and the doctor who had his finger up my asshole, while I was zoned out on morphine the first time I ever got one, after riding in an ambulance thinking I was going to die with my then-girlfriend holding my hand like some kind of battle-field casualty, told me it is the closest thing a man will ever feel to the pain of child-birth. So I feel like I have at least a little right to give my tuppence.
There’s something wholeheartedly peculiar about being ill and having no one around to ‘soothe your brow’ or whisper sweet nonsensical bullshit in your ear to make you feel better. Because you’re stuck with your own mind and all the madness that creeps in when you’re effectively trapped inside yourself for days on end feeling like the world is smashing down around you like an apocalyptic renegade. Strange thoughts meander around your head with their hands clasped behind their backs, as if the inside of your head is a Gestapo interrogation room, and the SS soldier with his pressed suit and shiny clunking boots is looking for answers as to why you are so ill – but you have no answers, and each time you say you don’t know the migraine gets worse and it’s as if he has complete control over your pain. Like lighting bolts in your head these fever induced hallucinations behind your eyes make you start to go mad, make you believe that you truly are in an Arizona prison sweatbox with a crazed scorpion talking to you from a small hole in the sand and occasionally stabbing at your legs with his poisoned glands. Taunting you with his wry little grin, laughing at you for being ill and so completely helpless.
And then you snap out of it, and you’re parched, and you realise you’ve been sleeping in an odd position in the middle of the day and you have pins and needles in your leg where the scorpion was stinging you and there’s a black and white movie on the tv flickering in the background – and there’s the SS officer, interrogating a prisoner of war and you realise you aren’t mad. You’ve just got the flu.