In sickness and in health: when mummy gets man flu

| Share

Sarah Long arrived in Australia from the UK in early 2010 and met her Mr Miner soon after. They're based on the NSW Central Coast and he does drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) to country NSW. Sarah came out to Oz as part of a six-month backpacking trip around the world, and never went home!

If there is one thing I've learnt in the last seven years of being a miner's partner, it’s that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong the minute Mr Miner leaves.

It’s as if the house senses the moment he drives down the street and things just collapse. Light globes that I can’t reach go out, plumbing fails, storms happen, pests invade. If a disaster is going to happen, I can almost guarantee it will happen when he goes away.

And since the arrival of Mini Miner, we seem to have a new drive-out-day challenge… sickness!

Prior to Mini being born, neither Mr Miner or I had rarely taken a day off work due to sickness, apart from perhaps the odd Monday migraine caused by a few too many vinos; or a sore neck or back here and there from going a bit too hard at the gym (ahhh, those were the days).

But now the vino and the gym are a distant memory and our latest pastime is fighting the day-care bugs. Thick green snot, strange rashes and the old faithful gastro, we’ve seen it all this year.

Two weeks ago, I was in the kitchen trying to persuade a tired toddler that he couldn’t just eat raisins and cheese for dinner and counting down the final minutes until Mr Miner walked through the door. He’d been away for a few days longer than usual with training and I tend to burn myself out in the time he’s away, knowing I can relax a bit more when he’s home to help.

So, I was pretty excited to hear the familiar sound of his ute pulling up in the driveway and the gate opening. But in walked a pale, shaking, shell of a man. Sweating and shivering, he announced that he had flu (everyone at work had it) and retired to bed for the next 48 hours.

I tried my hardest to be sympathetic, but a) he is prone to hypochondria combined with a touch of the dramatic – for example, he once forgot to eat lunch and thought he was dying by dinner time!; and b) I was done. All caring had been expended and the little I had left had to be conserved for Mini.

I must admit, I may have mentioned the phrase ‘man flu’ more than once.

After four days of being fairly horizontal and generally drugged with the strongest cold and flu remedies I could find, he rallied, and by the time it was his turn to look after Mini and my turn to work for a day (having missed my previous work escape), he was almost better (although still complaining).

And then a day later he was driving back to work, the opportunity for ‘me time’ fading into the distance with the dust from his tyres.

That night Mini was sooky and didn’t want to sleep and by morning he was sick and feverish. I spent the next three days on the sofa, surrounded by Panadol, water, tissues and ABC kids on repeat. Trying to coax him into eating plain toast or having some more water, cursing Mr Miner for bringing his work germs home.

And then the worst came. Mini seemed to be getting better, I still had half a shift ahead of me and I was going to actually achieve some of the things I hadn’t got done in the last three weeks. I managed to finally do some cleaning (read, find my kitchen bench top) and write a big ‘to do’ list before I went to bed. Things were looking up.

A few hours later I woke up feverish, sweating, legs aching, head hurting. I felt like death.

Sheepishly and weakly, I rang Mr Miner and told him I was sick.

"Do you need me to come home?" he asked.

"How long will I feel like this?" I replied down the phone.

"I’ll go and talk to the boss," he said.

The next seven hours seemed like a lifetime. Feeling achy and nauseated, I entertained Mini with a range of ‘sitting-down games’. I let him join me as I sat on the shower floor, trying to warm my aching joints. I laid on the lounge floor bribing him with Cars and Cars 2 until I couldn’t stand them anymore and I crawled out on to the deck and let him draw all over anything he could find and climb all over me.

This time I really don’t think I’d ever felt so relieved to hear his ute pull up.

"I didn’t think you could get man flu," he said as he walked through the door with a grin (and I swear, a slight heroic swagger).

Luckily for him I was too weak and too grateful to throw anything. Needless to say, I’m working really hard on my sympathy for next time!

Our Miner's Girl also has her own website: check out her blog here at

And here's lots more from Sarah on Mining Family Matters:

If you've got a question for Sarah or would like to tell your own tale about mining life, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!