Playing Florence Nightingale to the Man Cold

I rarely get sick. After 25 years of riding public transit and drinking tap water I’ve developed a pretty resilient immune system. Even if I do catch a cold you won’t hear about it. I’ll drag myself to the pharmacy, stock up on a cocktail of sinus medications and get on with my life.

Men, on the other hand, have a much harder time taking sickness in stride. While there is no biological evidence to suggest that a man’s stuffy-nose threshold is significantly lower than a woman’s, a standard cold or flu turns even the toughest of tough guys into a whining, snivelling baby.

It seems the XY chromosome-inclined don’t just suffer from a little case of the sniffles, they tend to contract something much more deadly — a Man Cold.

The symptoms may present themselves as a common cold, but any dude ailing from a Man Cold would have you believe he is on the brink of death. It doesn’t matter if he bench presses 300 pounds and can unscrew the tightest of jar lids — as soon as the Man Cold strikes he will become a whimpering ball of neediness and snot. He will try to convince you that he is in fact suffering from any number of illnesses (extinct or otherwise) ranging from H1N1 to the bubonic plague.

If you are unlucky enough to live with a husband, boyfriend or roommate stuck down by a Man Cold you must prepare to take on a Florence Nightingale approach to caregiving.

You will be guilted into cancelling all your plans in order to rush home and tend to your pyjama-clad patient — meeting his numerous demands for more tea, tissues and blankets. You must sit with him on the couch and spoon-feed him chicken noodle soup while watching mindless sitcoms and touching his forehead every 10 minutes to assure him that he does not have a fever.

Whenever you do leave the house, you will be met with a chorus of desperate whimpering, “Where are you going … when are you coming back … can you pick up some more orange juice — not the cheap kind but the fresh stuff with all the pulp?”

And when you start to feel a little under the weather — as you inevitably will after days of non-stop doting — don’t even bother telling him. If you try to play a game of “I’m more sick than you” one-upmanship with a Man Cold sufferer you will always lose.

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