Man flu means a man can’t lift a finger, right?

Being ill means a man can do nothing, right? Neil Haverson thinks so but his wife is not so sure

Being ill means a man can do nothing, right? Neil Haverson thinks so but his wife is not so sure - Credit: Archant

Neil Haverson has retired to the spare room with a hacking cough. Mrs H however feels light duties may help

I am just getting over the mother and father of all coughs. I don't know if it was just a coincidence but the bug hit me the day after I had my flu jab. I was warned at the time that side effects similar to flu may be experienced - and, as well as the cough, I did feel a bit tired and achy.

I wasn't too bad during the day but at night, oh boy! I just wanted to get to sleep but as soon as my head hit the pillow the cough gremlin attacked, swooping on my throat with his tickling stick.

It was the spare room for me where I could hack to my heart's content. Eventually I'd fall into a deep sleep only to wake up an hour or two later to bark away, like a sea lion waiting to be thrown a fish.

There doesn't seem to be much you can do about a cough. There has been so much publicity recently saying cough mixtures are pretty useless, no more than syrupy goo. And I find that cough sweets are cloying and after sucking a few they leave a really nasty taste in the mouth.

To keep the throat lubricated I had a good supply of water at my bedside. This provided temporary respite but had the side effect of topping up the bladder so I had to stumble regularly to the loo and made me wide awake. It also woke up the cough gremlin so as soon as I climbed back into bed he was there to greet me.

Even though we were in separate rooms Mrs H said she could hear me coughing. I must have sounded like a guard dog on patrol, barking at every sound.

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But I must say that a sympathetic Mrs H stepped up to her vow of 'In sickness and in health'. She offered to make a lemon and honey drink and sent me to bed with a jar of Manuka honey. A spoonful before I went to sleep did soothe my throat for a while.

At her behest I tried an extra pillow. Apparently raising the head is supposed to help keep the throat clear.

On a 2.30am loo trip the loyal Mrs H joined me in the kitchen. She mixed me a warm glycerine drink which I have to say did seem to work.

When the cough reached its peak I was not only put on light duties but actually forbidden from attempting some tasks. When she did need me do something she asked if I felt I could manage it.

'Are you up to going in the loft?'

'I think I can do that,' I sighed wearily. Didn't want to sound as though I had too much energy.

And when we needed some shopping she was even more concerned.

'Are you sure you're up to driving? You must be careful! When your head is muddled your reaction time is slower.' Then she added rather gloomily: 'And our reactions are slower anyway when we get older.'

When I was having a coughing fit she'd say firmly: 'Don't talk! You'll make it worse.' This wasn't too much of a problem. My communication with Mrs H is often in the listening mode so maintaining silence was not an issue.

As I began to show signs of recovery, her forward planning kicked in and I was pencilled in for bigger tasks.

'If you feel better tomorrow could you just do…?'

I have no doubt you are overwhelmed with sympathy for me. Poor old chap you are saying, he must have had a really awful time. Well, let me reassure you, throughout my suffering I was a big brave soldier. I showed stoic resolve, so much so that I'm sure I prevented the bug turning into a nasty dose of man flu.

And I've hardly complained. Just ask Mrs H.

Er…on second thoughts perhaps not.