On Man Colds

Two weeks ago I was struck down by a cold.  At 6:00pm I was feeling fine.  At 8:00pm I had the worst pain in my throat, and then things progressed from there.  I tried to explain it to Josh.  He was just recovering from a week of the flu, so I knew that I had to explain the evil of it all quite carefully if I wanted the full sympathy that I deserved.

I put it in the simplest way which required me to cough out the fewest words: “I have a man cold.”

I find the ridiculously sexist term somewhat amusing because none of the men I’ve ever known well at all have been remotely close to “man coldish” types.  Hence the whole concept strikes me as ridiculous, and thus rather funny.

Unfortunately, Josh had never heard the term and I lacked the energy required to explain it.

I’m too sick to see clearly, does this look like a good herbal remedy to you?

By 2:00am Josh had apologized multiple times for making me mad, and shaking my head desperately wasn’t cutting it, so I resorted to grabbing my phone and typing out an explanation:

I’m not mad at you. You’re wonderful. It just hurts so much. By the time you hear me bark anything out, I’ve usually said it several times and it hurts. So much. I’m sorry.

Or something like that. In any case, he got the point that I really am a super-wimp and did not take it personally.

The next day I needed to warn my sister that I was possibly contagious. She is a somewhat normal adult who has spent years of her life on Facebook and YouTube when not in feminist theory classes. I told her the crazy funny fact that Josh had not heard of the term “man cold.” Of course it turned out that she too had never heard it either. Dear sick me, how was I to explain that one?!

Thankfully the worst part of the cold only lasted for 18 hours and I could soon control it with painkiller. That’s right, I was reduced to taking painkiller for a cold. I told Josh that the only time I’d ever felt something remotely close was when I had strep throat and coughed up blood. I wondered if for years and years I’ve simply not noticed the pain of colds because it was nothing compared to my regularly scheduled feminine suffering. Perhaps the pill destroyed my ability to cope with the slightest pain?

I did my best to contain my germs and warned Josh to stay far away. He laughed it off because clearly I had finally succumbed to the flu he’d fought for a week. Apparently it did not matter that my symptoms were so different, it was just the woman-man-cold version of his flu.

Three days later Josh lay on the couch quietly moaning that this cold was so, so much worse than the flu. The only thing that came close was the pneumonia he’d had so many years ago.

I nodded with genuine sympathy as I brought him some tea. And then I thanked God that I had gotten the cold first. If Josh had acted this way without me first experiencing the pain I would have been upset rather than supportive. I would have assumed that he was really depressed about life or something and using the cold as an excuse. Not that he would do that on purpose, but really, who gets completely knocked out by a cold?

It seems that I needed yet another lesson in the reality that pain is incredibly difficult to understand. As far as I know we didn’t pass the cold on to anyone else, so I celebrate that as a major victory, even as I nurse my sinus infection two weeks later.

Now, will  someone please have sympathy on me and tell me that Josh and my sister are odd and I am slightly sane in expecting that they would have heard of the term “man cold?”

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7 thoughts on “On Man Colds

  1. Mark S.

    Your husband and sister were indeed uninformed about the “man-cold”. I attempt to adopt a stoic approach to upper respiratory infections but I am also liberal in using OTC meds with doctor visit if things don’t clear up in a few days. Wait, what am I doing? I’m trying to make it clear I don’t get “man-colds”! Lol. When facing the looming inevitability of my imminent demise in the midst of a cold I only barely restrain myself from requesting last rites. But, hay, that’s just me. :-)

  2. alison

    So, I know the term man cold! But unfortunately Mike does not get them. In fact, I have a pretty hilarious (in retrospect) story about his pain tolerance. He got contacts for the first time ever while we were dating, and I was trying to help him insert them since he was having so much trouble. We saw that his roommate had some contact solution…you know, the kind that has the giant red ring and warning label saying “DO NOT PUT DIRECTLY IN EYE ELSE YOU WILL MELT”. So naturally, I sprayed it directly in his eye because I do stupid things like that (he learned something about me that day too…). And he kept complaining that it “burned a little” and I kept spraying…”it burns a little”…spray…then…OH CRAP once I realized what I was doing. I felt so bad and the poor guy just thought it burned a little. Sigh. He was able to laugh about it after we washed it out. And forever makes me read the directions. See what I mean by impulsive? :)

  3. Nayhee

    Wow, I am so happy to discover there is a term for this! My husband gets SO whiny when sick. He does not believe this to be strange, he just “feels bad, okay?” and I find it all just unbearable. He says: “Why don’t you consider that I may actually feel worse than you do?”

    And then, this week I passed along a stomach bug that I had suffered from for a few days and he literally could not leave the toilet for about 12 hours. I had had one single round of diarrhea one night and then some stomach pains the other days.
    So maybe he *does* actually get sicker than me. I don’t know. Meanwhile, I have been working on being more understanding and he has also been working on whimpering and moaning more quietly…

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