Kirsten was convinced her husband had the "man flu". Then he turned yellow.

We’ve all been that person.

A mum thinking her daughter’s abdominal pains are indigestion… Turns out to be appendicitis.

A friend telling you to “stop being a wuss and get over it”, meanwhile you’re bedridden for two weeks.

And the oh-so-common “man flu” that has all of us rolling our eyes and wondering: Why don’t they just get on with it?

But for one woman in the UK, things could have turned out horribly after she failed to hear her husband’s complaints as anything other than poor acting.

“He was acting feeble. I thought he was being a bit dramatic,” Kirsten Bland, 36, a nurse from Dorsett told Daily Mail about her husband Rob, 43, who fell ill in February last year. “I thought it was the dreaded man flu.”

It wasn’t until she saw Rob in the bathroom, under brighter lighting, did she panic.

He’d turned yellow, “like Homer Simpson”.

The same way babies who turn yellow are suffering jaundice, a similar thing can happen in adults. According to the Australian Government’s Health Direct website: “When an adult becomes jaundiced, it can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.”

The yellow tint to the skin and eyes is caused by a build-up of the substance bilirubin in the bloodstream, which is usually processed by the liver.


Viral infections, heavy drinking, and autoimmune diseases can affect the liver’s ability to process and cause jaundice. The condition can also arise due to blockages, such as gallstones, pancreatic or gallbladder cancer, or pancreatitis.

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In Rob’s case, it was gallstones. And not only was he suffering jaundice, but the blockages had caused bacteria to enter the bloodstream, leading to sepsis – or toxins in the blood.

“Rob’s gallstones were really painful, but we never thought they would nearly kill him,” Kirsten said.

“He’d been having ongoing issues with them, was on regular pain relief and was due surgery.”

Doctors treated Rob’s sepsis with aggressive antibiotics and, luckily, he was sent home from hospital the following day.

He had an operation in March to have his gallbladder removed completely and – gallbladder or not – the pair have been wary of the “man flu” ever since.

Mamamia has reached out to Kirsten Bland for additional comment.