Sunday 3 February 2013

Man Flu

“25 year old male, DIB, chest pain, abdo pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, sweating, headache, dizzy, not alert”

Hands up if you’ve had a cold! OK, i’m assuming everyone has their hands in the air! Now, hands up if you’ve had a really bad cold! Again, i’m expecting everyone to have suffered this fate! Now, this one to the guys! Hands up if you have suffered from man-flu. As we all know, men don’t just suffer from cold, a bad cold or even flu, oh no. It is something much much worse. The debilitating, near life threatening man flu can grip any male at any time. Sufferers may experience the same symptoms women suffer during a cold but much much worse. Hurty brain, burny head, hurty tummy, ├╝ber achy, extra sniffly, the worst cough ever, more lethargic than an over tired sloth and an overwhelming inability to do even the simplest of tasks. Treatment includes patting on the head, rubbing of the tummy, waiting on hand and foot and constant sympathy and reassurance. In extreme cases an ambulance may be required to give extra instructions to loved ones and how to treat this crippling condition. The less sympathy the victim receives the longer it will take to cure.

Jokes aside, you would be shocked at how many people we go to suffering from the symptoms of a cold. Some take our advise to rest up, take Paracetomol, Ibuprofen, Lemsip, Beechams, Buttercup syrup and any other remedies they can get their hands on. Others insist on a trip to hospital to sit on a metal bench in a waiting room full of sick people for 4-6 hours to be told to go home, rest up, take Paracetomol, Ibuprofen, Lemsip, Beechams, Buttercup syrup and any other remedies they can get their hands on. 

As soon as the job appeared on our screen the usual moans and groans about people needing to man-the-f**k-up began. Obviously, he could be ill, he could have meningitis or something else and all the necessary checks would be made before we drew a conclusion but that list of presenting complaints looked suspiciously like man-flu. It also seemed like the caller just said ‘yes’ to every question they were asked. We arrived at the address after driving on lights and sirens through the rush hour traffic. The blues and twos are used for all life threatening or potentially life threatening conditions and the DIB alone meant he was going to get an ambulance and car. As we parked up the FRU pulled in alone side us and we went in the house on mass! Lying on the sofa with a pillow on his head was our patient surrounded by about 8 members of his family across 3 generations. 

“Hello sir, whats the problem today?”

No response.

“Come on sir, we can’t help you if you don’t talk to us”

He let out a groan.

“Can you sit up and talk to us?”

A muffled “I caaaaan’t” was the responce.

At this point the family began flocking around him telling us he was really ill and needed to go to hospital and couldn’t walk. 


After a further 10 minutes of conversation which was like drawing blood from a stone our patient was sitting up, kind of talking and showing all the signs and symptoms of man-flu. There was no rash, he didn’t even have a temperature but despite our best efforts to convince him and his family otherwise, hospital was where he NEEDED to be because he NEEDED to be seen by a SPECIALIST. As we suggested coming to the ambulance he coughed.

“Bruvs, your lungs are fucked innit”

That was the response from his brother. We asked him to stand up and come with us. He slumped into the back of the chair. 

“I can’t walk.”

The female members of the family then started dressing him. Socks, joggers and shoes. Laces tied and all. This was serious man flu. Then came the standing up ceremony. As they helped him stand up he threw himself to the floor. The women flocked around him, the grandmother was putting a spectacular effort to physically lift him to the floor.

“Right, can you all step back please. Look mate, your’e 25 years old, you are unwell, you have a bad cold, I get it, you feel rough, but you are a grown man. If you want to come to hospital with us stand up and walk to the ambulance. Don’t make you mother, grandmother and younger sister pick you up off the floor and carry you, you are not dying”

There was a moment of silence. Had I overstepped the mark? Was I being too harsh? Had we missed something? 

I thought to myself ‘well this is awkward!’

Then, like a phoenix rising from the flames, like Lazarus rising from the dead, like Rocky Balboa wrenching himself off the canvas, he rose from the floor to standing, pushed passed us, grabbed his coat and stomped down to the ambulance! 

What was awkward was the journey to hospital, he gave me the silent treatment like a moody seven year old who just had their remote control car confiscated for not eating their peas. We handed him over to the nurse in the ACCIDENT and EMERGENCY department where he was sent to the waiting room and informed of the 4-6 hour wait. 

Another life saved.


  1. Well done for telling him like it is. I cannot stand people like that.

    Love your blog by the way x

  2. I had this problem once when my husband had gone all strange and couldn't walk/stand/sit up even.

    Rang the dr, too late, wait 10 mins, ring the out of hours service.

    Ring the out of hours service, they demand I take him to them. I couldn't move him. The response was, well he has to move at sometime.

    I wasn't happy and told them so. If I could get him out the house then I wouldn't be ringing for help. They tell me if I am that scared ring 999. I told them I wasn't, but I needed a home visit. He is a big ole bloke and there was no way I could shift him out of the bed, let alone down the stairs and into the car.

    They agreed to attend eventually, when they got to me they asked me to bring him downstairs... I didn't, they looked and said it was an inner ear infection and gave him injections.

    It was a massive trial to get anyone to help. I know that there are loads of time wasters out there, but when I needed help it was so difficult to get. It would have just been easier to ring an ambulance and be done with it.

    1. This may come across as harsh but as horrible as it is an ear infection is a very low priority of car so if you'd called an ambulance you'd probably have had to wait just as long as OOH GP! Problem with free health care is there is always a queue and invariably there are always sicker people in the same queue!

    2. No where in my response did I say that an ear infection was a high priority situation. But, without question my husband needed assistance and with the greatest will in the world I needed a professional to come to me and to help resolve the issue.

      I was trying to illuminate how someone can end up calling an ambulance when it isn't really necessary, and this can be on the advice of a health care professional.

      I haven't moaned about how long it took, I have just tried to bring some perspective from the other side of the fence. I thought it might be useful to you.

  3. I had a similar call, for quite a large heavy man who 'couldn't walk'. I always ask, have you been able to go to the toilet or have you wet the bed. They tell me, he stumbled/crawled/hugged the wall to the toilet, but he can't walk now. I tell him and the girlfriend. "well do you really think I and my partner (also a female) could carry your boyfriend? honestly? They manage to walk to the ambulance and they go straight to the bed, I quickly tell them, 'don't mess up the bed, sit on the chair" hahaha

  4. The way we coped with that was I had him on my back and dragged/lifted and he did his best to support himself.

    He was nearly sick in my hair while we were doing this.

    Not everyone who you attend is undeserving of help or empathy

    1. I have never said everyone I attend is undeserving of help or epathy. Quite the opposite. If you think I treat my patients without empathy than you haven't read my blog. You have missed the point of this post. It is about a 25 year old with a cold. Not worthy of an emergency ambulance or a trip to accident and emergency. They needed rest and at best a visit to the GP. Being ill isn't nice. It never has been.

  5. I'm a Community First Responder and I did my first shift 3rd man with my local ambulance service yesterday. I had an amazing and enlightening day with a fantastic crew. One of our calls was to a case of Man Flu. Pathetic really. A middle-aged man who seemed to think he was dying when all he had was a viral infection AKA a cold. Why don't they just take paracetamol and go to bed? Took 2 paramedics, and ECA and me to tell him that...

  6. Had a similar job as a CFR, came in as man vomiting blood, expected to see a big sick but found a bloke with a bad cold and a sore throat with some slightly bloody sputum! The crew were not amused...

    I am fairly new to your blog Ella but you come over as kind, considerate and showing great empathy for the patients who really need your help, something which I see from many of the crews I come into contact with up here in the frozen north. Please keep up the great work and do not lose heart, from what I read here you are doing a great job.

  7. Good grief, I know people feel crappy with colds and flu but seriously calling an ambulance!?

    The world is full of very very stupid people these days :(

  8. Im bipolar, 6 months pregnant, coughing, sneezing, asthmatic and have heartburn, both my kids and my other half have had this cough (albeit I took the 10yr old asthmatic one to drs after 3 weeks! and in my defence he was given anti-bs, steroids and had inhalers increased) do I call 999? or do I tuck myself into bed armed with painkillers and gaviscon and plenty of fluids and the sky remote??

    Ive just spent two hrs reading your entire blog to distract myself from this miserable cough/cold and however much they are paying you it is not enough!!!

    Keep up the good work and if im ever lucky enough to be treated by you (never called an ambulance in my life!) ill consider it an hounour!


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