Oh, and do NOT go anywhere near that despicable little patronising, belittling and generally sexist term 'man flu' - if you do, I shall hunt you down like a dog and sneeze through your letterbox. That last bit probably only makes sense in the UK, and for the rest of the world sounds like some kind of sexual perversion with its own 'sneeze on me' website. Or...maybe not....but it's an idea I could maybe develop while remaining objectively aloof and separate from the actual....hmmm...another time, perhaps. *Files under 'Intriguing yet disturbing'*.
Yes, I have a cold. I've recently watched my wife and daughter fight their way through something similar, with differing degrees of success (my lovely wife was knocked flat for a week), so I'm hoping that I can beat this thing off with the mental version of some birch twigs, or perhaps a howitzer. if you don't know what a howitzer is...you're very probably on the wrong website. We'll see what happens, obviously, but since I'm a closet hypochondriac (I keep thinking that any affliction will turn me into a wardrobe - ahahahahahaha...hahaha...haha...ha.....okay, forget it), I will no doubt pass through the 'terminal' phase of this endurance test in the next twenty four hours and emerge on the other side making grunting noises when I stand or sit - not that I don't do that anyway, but with added volume when I'm feeling less than 100%.
The question of how different people endure illness is a hard one to find an answer to. I'm sure that somewhere, some frighteningly intelligent scientist (probably a frizzy ginger-haired kid born to weird parents who were much too old to have a child, and who then took a several degrees at the age of 13, went to Oxford and grew into a very, very strange adult) has discovered a way to measure relative suffering. If he/she has, I haven't been told about it, so I shall blithely continue as if such frankly annoying people - and therefore, their research materials - do not exist. As I have bored you with on previous occasions, I recently went through a few months of really rather unpleasant neurological pain which, by the way, has happily been almost entirely removed through physiotherapy. During that period of time, I worried that I might be just making a big deal out of nothing; that I should shut up and get on with it quietly; that I was, in effect, being a big wimp about the whole thing.
In retrospect I'm pretty happy that I wasn't, in fact. My doctor (with a concerned expression on his normally impassive face) gave me enough painkillers to make the world a place filled with rainbows and unicorns and pretty candy canes, but I didn't like that so I turned the dial down on those and took only as much as I could get away with (i.e: dulling the pain rather than sending myself off on trips to my happy place). Fortunately I'm not cursed with addictive genes (unless we're talking about savoury English food, in which case I'm a confirmed junkie) and the painkillers have been put away now, hopefully for good. My lovely lady (an ex nurse) waited until I had found my way through that particular uncomfortable few weeks of life before telling me that it had been a very long time since she'd seen anyone in that much pain. As you can imagine, my manly chest swelled with pride at such news, and I strutted about the house for a while, safe in the belief that I had conquered REAL agony like a REAL man.
Then I stubbed my pinky toe on the leg of the bed and had to sit down for a short cry.
I'm making fun of myself of course but it is a question that affects almost all of us quite often; either from the perspective of 'Am I really suffering enough to allow this to stop me doing what other people believe I should?' or 'Is that person really suffering, or are they just (to use an English colloquialism which I hope you can adapt to) kicking the arse out of it?'. I get quite caught up in this question from both angles, but most annoyingly when I am not feeling very well (such as today). I didn't feel like writing anything today but I felt obliged to make the effort because (here comes the Catholic guilt), it's only a common cold, after all. Yes I feel like crap, I'm tired and now my hands are starting to shake which may be a sign that my blood sugars are dropping (I'll check in a minute, after I've done what I MUST do!), but damn it, billions of people are far worse off than me.
The principle behind this, is of course the 'external should'. By this I mean that I - and I'm assuming that you may too (I'll use 'I' from now onwards to be more fair, but nod if you agree....if anyone sees you nodding at the computer screen, tell them you're doing neck exercises...) tend to formulate reasons for doing some of the stuff I do based upon my expectations of other people's expectations. A value system, after all, is most often formed within a society, which is normally comprised of individuals who have agreed to abide by rules which in turn are governed by common values.
A case in point: I just took a break to check my blood sugars, and upon finding that I wasn't low but was merely experiencing an effect of this annoying little virus, I decided that I'd better (there's the 'should') put some stuff in the washing machine to make myself useful. Had I not done so, my gorgeous partner would not have thought any less of me for it, but I have this almost silent but very deeply-rooted 'should' about being useful and about not being lazy. I don't want people to think that I'm lazy because people 'shouldn't' be lazy. These 'shoulds' run through much of my behaviour unnoticed but I do try to be aware of them, and in this way over the last little while, I've managed to change quite a few of the things I do. An example would be making the decision to rock the boat at work, when a younger version of me may have chosen to avoid doing so, because of the perceived expectations of others.
It's a subject I've touched on before and will no doubt return to again, but in the meantime, I've just examined my 'should' about writing any more and found that on balance, since I feel like poo, I'm going to finish now, post this and thereby throw caution (and my thoughts) to the wind. While my ramblings are scattered about the internet I shall go to my bedroom and make use of the sleeping facilities. Be kind in my absence - remember: I have a cold.