Last week I got a flu/cold sickness from my three year old granddaughter, Evelyn, who probably caught the virus on her plane trip up from California. Evelyn had been coughing for a few days before my own symptoms appeared.
With no hesitation I started to let the world know about my pitiful condition.
Cough. Cough. "Ohhhhhh, I'm sick!"
Blow nose. "Ohhhhhh, I don't feel good!"
Cough and blow nose. "Ohhhhhh, where's the cold medicine?!"
It didn't take long for my wife, Laurel, to make an observation: "You're better at whining than a three year old." My utterly predictable reply: "Ohhhhhh, I'm sick! You have to be nice to me! I need care, not criticism!"
I thought I'd get more sympathy after I took my temperature. "It's 102.2. That's a serious fever!" Laurel said, "But what is it usually? Maybe that's normal for you."
Not exactly. I was feeling pretty miserable.
So I did what I usually, if not always, do when I get sick: hibernate in a back bedroom. I'd come out for a while to whine about how bad I felt, then go back to my fitful sleeping and feeling sorry for myself.
Now, I don't want to make my wife appear to be lacking in compassion. As a woman, she simply has a different attitude toward sicknesses of the fairly mild flu/cold variety.
In short, suck it up.
That's what Laurel does when she gets sick. She does her best to keep on doing when needs to be done around the house. Even if, in my husbandly opinion, many of the chores could be put off until she feels better.
Me, I'm just the opposite.
If, when I'm sick, I do one thing during the day other than take care of myself -- such as emptying the dishwasher -- I feel as selfless as Mother Teresa. Then I return to my sick bed, or crawl under a blanket in front of the TV, and get back to feeling sorry for myself.
Often women say, "Men are wimps when they get sick." Well, they're right.
In between my whining and self-pity I summoned up enough energy to fire up Google and see whether there was evidence to support this oft-heard indictment of male fortitude in the face of sniffling, coughing, and a fevered brow.
Yup. There is.
A Scottish survey found that one in three men took time off work because of a cold or flu, compared to only one in five women.
That same Scottish survey found 72 percent of women believe men make an unnecessary fuss when they're sick, and 22 percent of women said men expected to be nursed. Only 12 percent of the woman said they felt sorry for them.
Then there's an online survey by Nuts magazine which found that 64 per cent of men had a virus that forced them to miss work last winter, while only 45 per cent of women said the same.
She has four children but often tells people she has "five, including my husband,'' because she believes men want to be coddled by their female partners especially when they're sick.
"Women, we are known as the nurturers of the family, so we tend to suck it up,'' she says. "When I'm sick, I still get up and I go to work because I know I can take some antihistamines or something, and I run with it.''
The Nuts survey revealed 82 per cent of men believe bed rest is the best treatment for the flu, while 66 per cent of women said the best tactic was simply to keep active and try to fight it off.
On the other side of the magazine gender divide, I found an article from Bust called, "News Flash: Men are Wimps."
First up: according to science, men tend to exaggerate sickness more than women. Dubbed the "man flu syndrome," men are more likely to describe a cold as a flu, or a headache as a migraine to gain "maximum sympathy." "Maximum sympathy" is just the kind of phrasing a man would use to say he wants to be coddled like a baby. So ladies, next time a man in your life asks for help while appearing sick, do not heed their call! It's all a big farce!
No, bad advice. At least when it comes to me. Hey, I had a temperature of 102.2! That's no cold, it's a potentially life-threatening feverish sickness! Sort of.
Anyway, what's wrong with maximum sympathy? At this very moment I'm still coughing. "Ohhhhhh, I'm sick" still echoes through my whining mind. At least I can take consolation in the fact that since men are wimps when they get sick, I must be mucho manly.