When last we spoke, my daughter was awaiting results of a COVID-19 test, and I was a nervous wreck.

The good news first: the test was negative. It’s nice to be reminded that sometimes a stuffy nose is still just a stuffy nose (even in a global pandemic and when you are a close contact to a COVID-19 case at school).

Now for the bad news: I’m still showing symptoms of a nervous condition daily, and there’s no cure in sight. In fact, this might just be my new personality.

After getting my teen’s results, I whisked her back to school in record time. For the rest of the day, I had a bounce in my step and a song in my heart. All that worry was for nothing. What a relief. A smile beamed behind my mask, and I felt a weight was lifted from my shoulders.

But the moment we reunited that night around the family dinner table, it was clear something was wrong. My husband wasn’t saying much, kept clearing his throat and eventually left the room to blow his nose.

My daughter and I shot each other a look.

“Are you sick?” I called into the next room.

“Maybe,” he said, adding, “A little.”

He returned to the table looking guilty.

“I may be coming down with something,” he confessed, his voice husky.

My daughter’s eyebrows shot up, and she started moving food around on her plate with her fork. Her face said it all: she wasn’t ready for another round of this.

“We probably should keep our distance,” I said, ready to flee. I rose, grabbed my fork, knife, napkin and dinner plate, then motioned for my daughter to do the same.

“Actually, I hate to ask, but would you mind eating in the living room?” I asked my better half. It would be easier for one person to leave than two. (Truth be told, I wanted him gone.)

“No, no problem. I probably should,” he said, and retreated from the table with his dinner.

I sat in disbelief. He also had co-workers who were positive and quarantining. Had he brought coronavirus home with him?

Opening a window to air out the kitchen, I shook a few vitamins into my hand, downed them and sat back down. I looked at my daughter, who still didn’t say a word.

“I’m feeling better…” she said, smiling weakly. “He probably just has my cold.”

That’s when it hit me. Of course! This wasn’t COVID-19. It was man flu.

He had my daughter’s cold. The only difference was our 15-year-old bounced back in 24 hours, while he would need to take to his bed for a couple of days.

This was par for the course. I learned early on he was prone to an occasional bout of man flu, and saw it with my own eyes many times during our 30 years together.

The first time I saw Tim catch a cold, he missed two days of work. This was unheard of for me. I always soldiered on when I was under the weather. Headaches, colds, sinus infections, back pain, laryngitis, PMS, you name it: I still went to work and made the best of it. He did not.

When I returned home from the office at night, I’d find him in his recliner, snoozing and sniffling, surrounded by discarded tissues, dirty cups and plates.

Now, of course I understand people get sick. But he just seemed to wallow in it.

It was surprising and a little hard to watch, to be honest. I truly believe I delivered our baby with fewer theatrics… and recovered a lot faster too.

Over the years, I would give him pep talks, encouraging him to power through the discomfort and persevere. A few times it turned out he was seriously ill. Did I feel guilty? Of course. But that’s the thing about overdramatizing a cold — after a while it’s impossible to tell the difference between the sniffles, bronchitis and double pneumonia.

In my family, we suffer in silence. I remember getting ginger ale and cold medicine when I was sick, and maybe a hot water bottle for comfort, but that was about it.

In my husband’s house, apparently there was hot tea and sympathy, not to mention an endless supply of dropped eggs on toast made to order and served on a tray. So that is what he expects anytime he contracts man flu.

Well, before I started poaching, I was going to get to the bottom of this. I sprang into action like a one-woman contact tracing squad, and grilled him about who he worked with, shared a van with and eaten lunch with in the last week or so. Fortunately, he was keeping his distance and masking, which was music to my ears.

But not so fast. What were his symptoms?

Aside from a scratchy throat and stuffy nose, he said he was tired. Exhausted, actually. (I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.) There was no fever, no trouble breathing and no body aches. We agreed he couldn’t go to a jobsite in his condition, so he called in sick and scheduled a test.

In the meantime, he quarantined in our bedroom and I spent two nights on the couch. The dog slept at my feet and the cat near my head, so I did not lack for company.

My daughter brought him his beloved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I made tea. He never did get his eggs and toast, now that I think about it. (My mother-in-law would not be impressed.)

On the second day, he announced he lost his sense of taste and smell. Forgetting for a moment to whom I was married, I immediately assumed the worst. I decided he definitely had COVID-19 and was going to give it to us all.

“That’s great, just great,” I said, throwing up my hands.

He blew his nose for dramatic effect, and looked extra pitiful. My reporter’s instincts kicked in immediately.

“So you can’t taste or smell anything at all?” I pressed, eying him suspiciously.

“Well, the only things I can smell are hand sanitizer and that candle in the living room,” he admitted.

Seriously? I cackled and didn’t even try to conceal the eyeroll.

Two days and an entire box of Kleenex later, the results were in: his test was negative. The jig was up, and he was going back to work.

And the beat goes on.

Kris Ferrazza is a former reporter, assistant editor, copy editor and columnist with the Courier newspapers. She lives in Waldoboro.