Never mind that your wife earns more than you and your children have mastered the remote control. The tallest tree in the forest is shaking. It is an existential crisis. You must immediately put these guidelines into place.
- Your cold should be the sole topic of conversation. Nothing can be as important. It’s essential that you keep your loved ones up-to-date. Listlessness. Aches. Snot-rate. General mood. Likelihood of it going to your chest. They need to keep abreast. You are thinking only of them and trying either to ease their worries. Or of course, preparing them for the worst.
- Your needs must come first. Again, you are only thinking of others. Of course someone must be sent to stock up on Lemsip; there are only a dozen sachets left. Never mind that your wife was planning a nice roast chicken for this evening; a takeaway curry is essential. The curative effects of takeaways are well-known and it could make all the difference. How many Indians do you know with a heavy cold? Exactly.
- The recovery position. Many doctors, often the male ones, who will know, recommend slouching in front of the TV, in your dressing gown, with the sport on. Make sure you are surrounded by range of salty snacks with beer to hand. You don’t know whether nuts or nachos will set you on the road to wellness, and so you must be prepared.
- Sex. This is very important. Wave aside your loved one’s anxiety–‘I thought you were ill!’. You are ill, very ill, but you are doing it for her. She needs cheering up probably, carrying the burden of care as she does. Even in the torrid depths of your suffering you are thinking of others. You are a true man.
- You are allowed to express yourself through unrestrained bodily functions. Belching, breaking wind, smacking your lips together: these are signs of you cooperating with your body in its mighty struggle. They are not rude or disgusting. It is the triumph of Life over Death.
- Delusions. Your family may struggle with delusions such as can you please take out the recycling? Or could you mend my bike? This is their stress speaking and it is important to refuse, gently if possible but firmly. The wellbeing of the whole family is on a knife-edge. Do not weaken.