BLOKES AND ILLNESS: We chat to Diagnosis Male author Troy Harvey

BLOKES AND ILLNESS: We chat to Diagnosis Male author Troy Harvey

Dread man flu like the plague? Sick of your bloke refusing to darken the door of the GP unless he has a partially severed limb? We’re sure women the world over can relate, and that’s why we were chuffed to get our hands on Troy Harvey new book, Diagnosis Male. Harvey sheds light on men’s hilarious no-doctors philosophy, and answers our probing questions about blokes and illness (and what women can do to save their sanity during a bout of ‘man flu’).

Hi Troy, thanks for talking to us about your new book – we loved it (one we feel all women need to read, ha!)
Thank you for reading it! I love the idea that all women might read it one day. Somehow I don’t think it’ll be making it into Oprah’s Book Club, though.

Why are guys so crap at going to the doctor?
Going to the doctor is a pain. A pain usually worse than the one we are already experiencing. There so many other things we’d rather be doing with our time than sitting in a room, waiting to get prodded by a stranger. We’ve got TV to watch and jobs around the house to half-finish or procrastinate about. Our schedules are full. If doctors were smart they’d serve beers in the waiting room and show sport in their office – only asking questions in the ad breaks. That’s how to get through to us.

Why are men blinkered to obvious health risks – (eg, while women will obsess over every extra kilo, blokes will think they look fine even when overweight etc..)
There’s no real secret to the way men think. In our minds we’re still 21, no matter how old we really are. It’s as simple as that. And when you’re 21 you’re indestructible. The reason we don’t stress about stuff or obsess about our bodies like women do is because we’re too exhausted from trying to convince the women in our lives to stop stressing about theirs. The last thing we want to do is start up another discussion about body image and health. Best to just keep that stuff to the times when women bring it up.

What role do women play in men’s health and what can we do to encourage them to look after their health? Short of threats etc?
Actually, threats are good. Threats are probably the most effective way to deal with us. Nagging works too, but that can take a while. The problem for most guys is we know you’re right. Deep down, we know that women know more about medical stuff and body health than we do – mostly because we have little to no interest in it. For us it’s more a theory of “When you’re time’s up, your time’s up”. But when a woman nags us about our health, eventually we’ll do something about it. We’ll say it’s just to stop the nagging, but secretly it’s because we know you’re always right. (My girlfriend made me write that.)

Why are blokes so damn painful when they are sick?
I have no idea what you’re talking about. Whenever I’ve been sick I’ve been nothing but manly and tough throughout the entire experience. (Cough.)

What’s the best way to treat a sick man?
When men are sick, we are basically like dogs. That’s where the expression “sick as a dog” comes from. (Probably). That means you can do one of two things to treat us. Either pamper us and rub our bellies until we’re feeling better, or leave us alone to curl up in a dark room so we can whimper to ourselves and drool a bit. We’ll either die in there or come out as though nothing was ever wrong in the first place, hungry and eager to hump your leg.

Most amazing stat you uncovered about men’s health while writing the book?
I think the most amazing thing I read were the odds of surviving a serious illness if you catch it early on. The earlier you spot a symptom of anything, the chances of beating the disease it’s attached to are astronomical compared to if you leave it a while. So much so, in fact, that I’m thinking of visiting psychics to try and catch things years before any symptoms even appear. I think you’ll agree, it’s a foolproof plan.

How have blokes responded to your book?
Most men who’ve read it just give me a knowing nod as they pass me in a corridor. That’s about as expressive as blokes get. We’re not big on discussing books. What’s interesting is how many women have read it and thanked me for giving them this insight into the minds of men. I wasn’t aware we were such a mystery to women. Men are easy to understand. Even our reason for visiting doctors is pretty simple – it’s basically just so we can make sure we’ll stay alive long enough to see another episode of The Simpsons.

Have you changed your attitude to the medical profession since writing the book?
I don’t think so. Like most blokes, I never liked going to the doctor before writing the book and I still don’t like going now. Don’t get me wrong, I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who dedicates their life to touching the infected, broken bits of people’s bodies. I don’t know why anyone would choose to do that for a job, but I’m grateful they did. Personally I think of them like I think of the police – I’m glad they exist, but if I’m face to face with them for any reason then something’s probably gone horribly wrong in my life so the less I deal with them, the better.

Anything else of interest you’d like to tell us?
Man-flu is a very real, very serious condition that deserves the utmost sympathy and respect. Don’t believe anyone that tells you otherwise.

To buy this hilarious book, click here – you’ll get free shipping AND you’ll be supporting Reality Chick. Which is very much appreciated. Hugs!

Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Tara 10 years ago

    Man flu is alive and well – they let everything around them drop, and we women carry on regardless. The term soldier on was definitely not meant for men!

  2. melanie w 10 years ago

    Man flu yes i believe it men are just like kids when their sick but us mums just have to get on with it and get over it.

  3. kerry santillo 10 years ago

    Man flu is apparently worse than when we women get it !! We have no time to stay in bed, ask for tissues, something to eat or drink, but man flu seems to be a different strength. Quick get out the violins, man flu, Phewy !!!!

  4. Anita 10 years ago

    I beleive in man flu, because I have it! I think this cold may actually kill me. My husband however is an absolute trooper and never complains or has sick days off work. Shame my 2 sons have inherited this from me though! 😉

  5. Raelene 10 years ago

    It definitely exists ,and almost ever man I know has suffered from it at some stage!-I find it very hard to watch -a runny nose and their dying!

  6. Belinda Bonello 10 years ago

    I think it exists but I’ve never seen it before only heard of it!

  7. Joanne Purnell 10 years ago

    I guess so, with blokes the bigger they are the harder they seem to fall

  8. Halley 10 years ago

    If anyone wants to see a real-life man flu sufferer in action, you’re all free to come round to mine 🙂

  9. Adele Smith 10 years ago

    Man Flu definitely exists with the mere mention of going to the doctors seems to send my mere male into a frenzy of ‘it’s not a cold’, ‘why go to the doctors when he’s only go to tell me what I already know’. It’s maddening to know when Manu Flu hits there’s no protection for the rest of us!

  10. A. Mack 10 years ago

    Yes. I will agree that man flu does exist. I have witnessed it many times. The explosive, highly exaggerated sneezing is always cause for concern, the incessant banshee like cries of pain require attention stat and the statement “I’m dying” leaves the carer wondering is it time to call the funeral home to make arrangements!

  11. Chris 10 years ago

    I do believe in man flue because i have experienced it in London. I was stuck in bed for 1 week, feverish…I had never felt like that before or since.

  12. Di 10 years ago

    Yes men get man flu, they are just (in general) hopeless at being sick and cant get anything done at the same time, like women can. LOL.

  13. Kitty 10 years ago

    Great interview! I’ll make sure I treat the case case of ‘serious’ man flu my partner get’s with the respect it deserves 😉

  14. Halley 10 years ago

    Ahh, man flu. Of course it exists. It is a bit baffling though, that men go to pieces when they’re sick… you’d think their macho gene would take over! Ha. My boyfriend sidestepped the bugs this year thank god.

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