This post was going to be entitled 'man flu', not very original I know but could we really get through the Winter without reporting on this annual epidemic of such grave proportions that it results in so many near death encounters? Indeed it would be scandalous to ignore it, heartless even when we consider just how much our men folk have been through.
Luckily none of them, despite predictions, assurances (promises even) and some evidence to the contrary, have passed away. We emerge once again unscathed by such suffering (them), and a little scathed by such ministering (us) and of course the worry.
Husband's flu started about the time he first needed to blow his nose. It was a scary moment obviously, something was wrong with him, he might even feel poorly or, heaven's above need to go to the doctor's. In fact if a visit to The Scary Man was nigh the best thing to do, of course, was to take himself to bed and nurse himself until he was completely better to avoid such an encounter.
The best thing about me, thought Husband, is that I make absolutely no fuss, in fact no one will even know I'm here. Unless I get really ill you understand. Yup, I understood. He sat in bed like a small boy in an Enid Blyton story, special striped pyjamas on (kept from his childhood and saved for the really serious cases), knees drawn up and duvet up to his chin. There was a weak smile as I entered the sick room with a cup of tea which he bravely sipped while quite hot. I had blown on it like he'd asked, but still, it was brave. I placed a box of tissues on the bedside table and a bucket as requested just in case. Then I duly went downstairs for the forgotten items (hot water bottle, Lemsip, cough drops and a newspaper in case his head felt up to reading). Yes, he was a little trouper, no one but me knew he was ill, and he was nursing himself through it in his own way. Of course he was too ill to get up and actually nurse himself, so I had to do it but the thought was there, he whispered weakly.
It was a long afternoon for him, tea made his nose runnier so warm honey was duly administered, the hot water bottle was tricky to keep at just the right temperature despite him checking it on his thermometer, and the TV just wasn't up to scratch. He got through it somehow and struggled to bedtime managing a bowl of soup and chocolate pudding before checking the water bottle temperature and falling asleep next to me, exhausted.
In bed that night he proceeded to groan as loudly as possible and thrash about wildly as he tried to deal with his flu. Every nose blowing event was performed accompanied by an expletive and a comment on how much he wasn't sleeping and how long to go until I had to get up. If I had managed to go to sleep between these events then I was sure to be awoken by loud retching noises away from the bucket as a demonstration of what might possibly happen were he to feel sick and I had missed the warning signs.
By 2am I had had enough, he'd only used up one tissue all day and the 'sweat' patches were really spilled Lemsip. Risking a lifetime of references to my uncaring nature and pub near-death stories that I had no authority to refute so he could embellish at will, I moved to the spare room. I did explain to him why, but all he could reply was that he could see a bright light and should he go towards it?
The dread of a cold bed and having to clean the guest sheets tomorrow were no deterrent to the thought of a decent few hours before getting up with the children. It was bliss, heaven, worth the lifetime's condemnation. For a while. He missed me you see, it may be his last night of sleeping next to me and wouldn't it be lovely to savour the moment? I felt the bed springs sink as he dragged himself into bed beside me. The groanings were louder this time although giving him the warm bit of the bed went some way to soothing them. The retching continued until the bucket was brought from our room and then almost ceased. We watched dawn rise together thankful that he'd survived the night.
I sent him to the doctors the next day, tail between his legs, deaf to his protestations that all he needed was a few more days of TLC. He emerged from the surgery triumphant and euphoric. The doctor had sympathised, hadn't asked him to remove any clothing and best of all given him a prescription for Strepsils.