Man Flu

January 16, 2008 at 12:01 pm 5 comments


I think I may be coming down with a sniffle. A cold. I have been sneezing and my nose is a little redder than normal due to the number of times that I have blown my nose. I say a “little redder” because being “reddish” is, unfortunately, my normal state of affairs. My face is often pink. It is probably genetic. But, unlike my total colour-blindness (red-green and  blue-violet) which was clearly my grandma’s fault (it is passed down the female genetic line), this seems to be my dad’s fault…. 

My reddishness is not because I blush easily (but I do) or because I am easily embarrassed (but I often am). Nor is it because I have spent too long under a sunbed (but I do). Nor is it related to any blood pressure problems. As far as I am aware, I don’t have any. No, but I do have Rosacea, which, according to the NHS Direct is “a common inflammatory condition of the skin of the face that causes redness that looks like a flush or blush”. It is made worse when it is hot, at times of stress, and after spicy food, etc. It can be embarrassing. I can’t count the number of times that I get asked if I have been away on holiday and the like. Fortunately, my Rosacea manifests itself as a whole head blush. I think that this is slightly better than it being blotchy or patchy. My poor dad looks as if he has a rash sometimes. 

Anyhow, it is not surprising that I have a cold. I have spent the last couple of days outside in the rain a lot. The great British summer. Flooding everywhere. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. I have been living in my wellies, desperately trying to stop water flooding into the hallway. It has rained pretty solidly in Cheshire for the last couple of weeks. Fortunately, we are not near a river or a stream and do not have the same flood risk as those poor people in Hull and South Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire and elsewhere. But, the fields around home are sodden. Water is pouring off the fields onto the roads, and, the poor soak-away drain that we have in the front drive could not cope with the rainfall. It was even worse than in my earlier posting “It Rains Up North”.  

Fortunately my rudimentary barricade of bricks, a couple of pieces of wood, and, compost bags were not quite tested. But, it was close. And, so, yesterday, I went and purchased 15 bags of Cheshire Pink gravel (it is a planning requirement!) and piled it outside of the front door in an attempt to divert future inundations away from the house. Fingers crossed. The joys of climate change! 

So, I seem to have a cold. And it probably didn’t help that we were without central heating and hot water from Saturday until Tuesday, because we ran out of oil. My fault. I should have ordered earlier. But, this wet weather combined with a cold-water stand up wash in the morning is not the best start to the day. But, I will not succumb. I do not do “man flus”. You know, when men exaggerate their illnesses so that when they have a cold they claim they have the flu, etc.  

Fortunately, I have been ill very infrequently in my forty or so years. So far.  Touch wood. Fingers crossed. When I was a kid I had the annual bout of tonsillitis. Spookily it would always come during the Christmas holidays so I didn’t even get the benefit of time off school. And, one Christmas I remember a hurried last-minute scramble for Christmas dinner ingredients because I was too ill to travel to our Auntie Jane’s as scheduled. 

In the twenty years that I have been working, I have had just two days off work through illness. That was due to a chest infection which required me to take anti-biotics for the first time in my life. Which I hated. I hated it because a) it meant that I had to curtail my alcohol intake for a couple for days and b) because I find it really hard to swallow pills, tablets and capsules. They make me gag. I can’t swallow them. Normally, I end up chewing the damn things, which is not nice because most medicines taste bloody awful. 

The only time that I have been really ill was when I was at university. I developed a form of herpes of the mouth. Nice. I caught this from kissing my girlfriend when she had a cold sore on her lip. Nice. I was ill. The whole of the inside of my mouth and tongue were coated in painful ulcers.  I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t drink. I lost about two stone in weight in about a week and a half. This was extreme dieting. I also had blood poisoning which caused hallucinations including a really, really scary dream about being chased by nuns. This was a result of falling asleep in the Junior Common Room while watching the Sound of Music one Bank Holiday Monday. She can be damn scary that Mary Poppins (sic!).  

The college doctor shipped me off to the John Radcliffe Teaching Hospital in Oxford, where I became a bit of a spectacle. Apparently, what I had was very rare. Which meant that every doctor and every student-doctor in the place (of which there were many) felt it necessary to come and have a look, and take a swab, and have a poke. It was not nice. It hurt. It only lasted a couple of weeks or so. Fortunately.

Unfortunately, a much longer-term problem, thankfully now cured, was the “eating disorder” it left me with. When I finally made it back into “normal” college life (which must be an oxymoron) I looked bloody awful because of the weight I had lost.  I was put on a “special” diet.  Special food. It was like being a baby again. Mostly mushy stuff like scrambled egg, custards and the like. The special diet meant that I was served my meals in formal hall after everyone else had been served the normal meal that was available that night. My food was paraded in by my very own waitress, who I happened to have been on a couple of dates with (which was totally against college rules). It was very embarrassing. I became very self-conscious. I thought everyone was staring at me. This was because everyone was staring at me. And, it left me with a bit of a phobia about eating in public, which stuck with me until my mid-Thirties. It was worse when I was feeling a bit stressed. I was stressed a lot until my mid-Thirties. Lunches with customers, romantic meals with girlfriends (or girls I wanted to be girlfriends) were an absolute joy. Not. You don’t want to know how many restaurant toilets I have thrown up in. 

If you just think how often you actually have to eat in the company of others then you may get a sense for how big a problem it could be. Normally I would just push the food around on my plate to make it look as if I had eaten something. I would hide the meat under my potatoes and I would hide my leftovers under my napkin. And then I would wait until I was back in the comfort of my own home before eating. Mostly mushy stuff like scrambled egg, custards and the like.  To this day, my best friends from university vie for the strategic place next to me at the table so that they can scavenge my leftovers. I am still not a big eater when in the company of others. 

So, take my advice. No matter how gorgeous your girlfriend. If she is need of Zovirax, leave her alone. Cold sores are to be avoided!

Entry filed under: Health, humour, Oxford. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

A Strange Old Week The Oxford Experience

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ken Albin  |  April 8, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Thanks for the comment on my rosacea article. Yes, it’s one frustrating illness to treat. I’ve tried literally everything. The main things that seem to help calm it down is a rotation daily of chamomile extract, Dove Q10 cream, and pure aloe vera liquid. Last summer I also got a rather intensive laser treatment that zapped a lot of the surface vessels. Obviously it didn’t eliminate the problem but I don’t think anything will do that. I’ll settle for incomplete control at this point. This disease is crazy because so many things can cause it, or even a combination of things. My sympathy is with you as well. It won’t kill you but it makes your life a lot more difficult for sure! Take care.


  • 2. biscuitdoughjones  |  May 28, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    It’s very interesting to finally read a male perspective on Rosacea. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman living under the beauty burden, but I guess I never thought that guys worried about this condition. I had a boyfriend with Rosacea once, and he was fine to ignore it & leave it untreated, chappy skin and all. Thanks for the link!


  • 3. mspennylane  |  May 29, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Wow, I often get cold sores but I really didn’t know about those effects! Thanks for the link, it is interesting the seemingly small things that people struggle with in everyday life and it was interesting to read your take on this. I guess we just learn to accept what we are given!


  • 4. Marcel  |  August 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Rosacea is a nasty illness. As far as I know thare is not a cure to it. Their are medecins to relieve the symptoms, but that is it.
    I am amazed by your attitude against rosacea. When I read your article, it is almost as if you come to terms with it. A lot of people don’t.
    What is your actual position in this?


    • 5. Middle Man  |  August 3, 2010 at 11:18 am

      You can’t fight what can’t be fought……

      But, I would be interested to find out if there are any homeopathic solutions out there!



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