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When it was not man-flu

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No one can describe the panic one experiences when it dawns on you that you probably have the coronavirus running rampant in your body, writes Lance Fredericks

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APPARENTLY, science has proven that when giving birth the pain is so great that a woman in labour can almost imagine what a man feels like when he has a cold.

Yes, I am speaking about the dreaded man-flu, and I have been doing my research. It seems that the most dreaded words a woman can hear from her husband are these chilling words, “I think I am getting sick”.

I heard a story about a woman who went to her pharmacist and said, “My husband has a cold … do you have any of those euthanasia pills?”

The pharmacist chuckled and said, “I think you mean echinacea pills … ha ha ha.”

To which the woman simply replied, “No.”

Another story tells of a woman that posted on social media: “My husband has a cold, so I am officially on the market again!”

Then there’s the story of a young wife who received a text message from her sick husband when she just got to work: “I’m dying”.

To which she responded: “Man dying or real dying?”

I can hear the women giggling. Obviously they are sceptical, wondering how a simple cold can feel so bad for a man. Men must be such wimps, women reason.

But then back in 2013 a neuroscientist, Dr Amanda Ellison, released research suggesting that men really do suffer more than women when it comes to coughs and colds.

In her study she found that men have more temperature receptors in the brain which causes them to experience cold and flu symptoms more acutely than women.

Dr Ellison, a lecturer at Durham University in England, said: “When you have a cold, when your immune system is under attack, the preoptic nucleus increases your temperature to fight off the bugs. Men have more temperature receptors because that preoptic area of the brain is bigger in men than women.

“So men run a higher temperature and feel rougher – and if they complain they feel rough, then maybe they’re right.”

And based on that scientific research, I want to launch into my recent bout of man-flu.

Around two weeks ago I felt my chest tightening up. I started coughing and my head got all stuffy. In addition to this I was running a high fever followed by chills through the night … imagine sweating under the blankets and then suddenly having the sweat turn to icicles on your body.

In addition to all of this I felt like someone had attached clothes pegs to my entire body. My skin was aching, and I realised that I had picked up the dreaded man-flu. After all, what else could it be?

But I learned what else it could be when I was washing my face one evening and realised that I could not smell the soap. I brushed my teeth and though I could feel the foam and bristles in my mouth I could not taste the toothpaste – this compared to the morning when everything had seemed fine.

No one can describe the panic one experiences when it dawns on you that you probably have the coronavirus running rampant in your body. What made it worse for me is that this happened on a Friday evening and getting to a doctor and getting tested would probably only happen on Monday morning.

Would I get sicker? Would I infect my family? What do I do? All these questions raced through my head … along with the one question that still has me stumped now almost three weeks later: “Where did I get infected?”

I had been super careful, incredibly paranoid and hyper vigilant when it came to sanitising, mask wearing and social distancing, and here I was part of the statistics, a mark on the graph that is drawing the line upwards, a very real, very scared part of the rumoured third wave of infections.

Fortunately, I came through it without much fuss. My symptoms were mild at best and the other members of the household were not infected. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that when the man-flu first struck I started isolating myself.

The medical assistance, the help of family and friends, the advice of those who had made it through their Covid-19 experiences and the endless flow of prayers heavenward and grace downward proved to be a recipe for success.

Yet my heart breaks for families who are now smaller because of those who have not made it through. I am very worried about those who are currently sick and those who have been infected and do not know it yet.

All I can say to the people who are still open to advice is that you cannot be too careful. Yes, I know that I was careful and still got caught, but there is nothing wrong with increasing our vigilance, using the facilities and advice that’s available to us and staying as safe as we possibly can, at least until the very real threat of this very real menace has passed.

Until that day, I wish everyone the very best … stay safe. I hope to see you on the other side.