Modern medicine has done great things in the last century or so. It’s eradicated smallpox and polio, extended lifespans and allowed us to live with other people’s organs inside us. Yet, in one aspect, it has totally failed us. There is one disease which remains incurable, and it remains low profile because it only affects the weaker sex. This disease is manflu.
1. The Night Before
It starts as an innocent tickle in the throat. You wince slightly as you swallow your tea whilst watching Ħbieb u Għedewwa but, like the man you are, you decide to ignore this ominous signal and soldier on.
2. Night Falls
You’re generally ok, but as the night proceeds, you begin to notice that something may be amiss. Whereas your dreams are usually pleasant journeys into your subconscious, this night’s brain wanderings are strange and troubling. And when you wake up drenched in sweat, you realise that that tickle you had before has now become a throb.
3. The Sun Rises
You’re still in denial at this stage. As your better half turns round with bloodshot eyes and mutters “Ilek teqred lejl sħiħ…ċempel sick”, you think, nah, I can do this. You peel the quilt off your broken body and your skin puckers up instantly into sixteen trillion goose pimples. You shakily stumble over to the shower and clamber in. The water on your skin feels like a thousand sharp rizzu spikes penetrating your epidermis and it’s all you can do not to moan out loud. Actually, it seems that you failed that particular Herculean task, since every swipe of your towel squeezes a piteous “ajma” from your lips.
You literally fall into the office, since you were leaning up against the elevator doors, soothing your flushed skin with their cool aluminium embrace. As you navigate your way to your desk, Dave looks you up and down and worriedly claims “ma tidhirx sew man!” No shit, Sherlock.
As the armies of viruses roar through your body, conquering one cell after another and transforming what was once a manly robust specimen into a jelly-like joke, you come to the conclusion that this is not where you should be. You abandon your Skype meeting with an abrupt “sorry guys, ċaw” and you crawl back into your car where you begin the long trawl home.
You pass seventeen pharmacies on the way home, but a mixture of pride and the sheer lethality of your condition does not allow you to enter them. Instead you text your partner “ixili ftit panador cld n flu tnx xxx” and abandon your vehicle on a double yellow line at the corner. You zombie walk through your front door, every step punctuated by a staccato grunt/sigh.
7. Sofa so good
The sofa. A safe place. You curl up and cover yourself with all the rugs. You demand all the tea and all the sympathy. Eating is pointless, since everything tastes of cardboard. At some point, you will get a “qum minn hemm, mhux se tmut ta!” They just don’t get it.
This is the stigma that we, as sufferers of manflu, have to live with. The lack of empathy. The failure to understand. It’s difficult to convince others that you’re at death’s door. Manflu has few signs other than a dry, sad cough and a look of dismay. But anyone who has been struck by this terrible affliction knows that the true signs are seared on our very souls.
So please, let this article raise awareness about this blight on our well-being. That man you see there is not just making a fuss. He may have manflu.