I have “the 100-day cough”. I’m hoping the “100-day” bit is a media construct and it won’t last that long, but the cough bit has persisted for well over two weeks now. If you don’t know someone with it, you will soon. There were more cases of “pertussis” in January than the whole of last year.

The 100-day cough starts out like an average cold: sore throat, sneezing and in my case a nose so runny, it dripped in front of a class of 20 pupils: “Eww, sir, that’s gross!” The difference is that the cough persists and worsens, particularly at night. Coughing bouts may last a couple of minutes, you may have difficulty breathing, you build up a heavy mucus and can go very red in the face: “Sir, are you OK?”

You will feel permanently exhausted and dehydrated. But, for God’s sake don’t tell anyone, you’ll only be accused of having “man flu”.

Man flu. Is there any subject more polarising other than Marmite itself? We all know that – allegedly – men are incapable of dealing with even a minor cold without the appearance of dying, or at least, according to a Harvard study, quickly adopting a “helpless patient role”.

In fact, there is more than one study that suggests man flu or “wimpy man syndrome” may actually be “a thing”; that men may “actually experience respiratory viral illnesses” differently to women. The studies cite coronary artery disease, osteoporosis and depression as other examples.

But, what if you don’t actually do “man flu”? I mean, hypothetically, say you bravely put up and shut up; you go into work every day; you say nothing to colleagues; you secretly wash down Day Nurse and slug Benylin Chesty Cough? Until, hypothetically, one day in your poorly-ventilated communal cell of a tiny, shared office, your coughing fit is so scarily dramatic that said colleagues stare at you accusingly: why are you here?

This is, of course, coded English passive-aggression for: why the hell are you risking us catching it?

As a teacher, you go to work sick, because to take a day off means preparing five “cover lessons” for cover teachers – by 8am! But, as a man: should I stay, or should I go?

Of course, we all should be staying at home. That includes pupils. How do you think I caught the whoop in the first place? Boy flu! To teach in winter is to endure an hourly revolving door symphony of snot and sniffles.

Now, my issue is: doctor, or no doctor? Or, am I just being “a man” again?

QOSHE - I can’t be ill any more without being accused of having ‘man flu’ - Stefano Hatfield
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I can’t be ill any more without being accused of having ‘man flu’

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24.03.2024

I have “the 100-day cough”. I’m hoping the “100-day” bit is a media construct and it won’t last that long, but the cough bit has persisted for well over two weeks now. If you don’t know someone with it, you will soon. There were more cases of “pertussis” in January than the whole of last year.

The 100-day cough starts out like an average cold: sore throat, sneezing and in my case a nose so runny, it dripped in front of a class of 20 pupils: “Eww, sir, that’s gross!” The difference is that the cough persists and worsens, particularly at night. Coughing bouts may last a couple of minutes,........

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