On the surface it's a debilitating illness that only the care of another can cure. Whether in a house shared by randoms, or a cosy nest for two, there is always someone who steps up to the plate.
And by care I obviously mean unlimited sympathy for all pain (imaginary or real). provision of hot drinks, food and blankets, dispensing of pills, assuming all responsibilities on a temporary basis and relinquishing any say over the TV.
It's only fair. Because essentially man flu is the body's way of say 'I've had enough, I'm going to stop and you, host, are going to indulge me with your simple food, no movement and the box set of '24' until I say I'm ready to get out and do your daily chores again'
The last few days I've been knocked down by a virus. Without the luxury of man flu support I've been gingerly fetching my own drinks, blankets and soups. Responsibilities have had to be scaled back, but at least control of the TV isn't an issue.
As I popped the ibuprofen and drank my ginger tea, I recalled seeing a 'grow your own drugs' book in the high street over Christmas and thought out to my herbs. Could any of them be of use? On my windowsill I have coriander, sage and parsley on the go. So I got googling and found a garden remedies website.
- Boil sage leaves (aprox. 1 tablespoon sage to a cup of boiling water.)
- Cover, and steep aprox. ten minutes.
- Drink 1/2 cup no more than 3 times throughout the day.
- Lemon juice and honey can be added for flavor.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid sage.
So I set about picking my leaves apprehensively.Sage is a strong bitter herb when picked fresh, tarnishing your hand with its scent. I could only imagine it's method of tackling fever is from the Jack Bauer school of pain management (stop being a wuss and take more)*.
But, if you don't go overboard on the sage it actually gives the hot drink an edge that feels healthy. And I think this is where garden herbs and indeed fresh vegetables have the psychological advantage over their processed competitors - be they drugs or food.
As I moved off the soup and on to the hard stuff, I picked fresh peas and consciously thought - this is good for me. I'm actively nursing myself better. It was empowering. I can't claim scientifically that it worked, but at the very least it hasn't harmed my recovery.
Man flu is acceptable as long as you recognise that you have to take back your responsibilities at some point. And what better way to do it than taking responsibility for your own health?
So in future, if you are nursing someone with man flu and think it's been going on a little too long, get them to pick their own herbs. And if they won't - perhaps drop a few extra sage leaves in there...