Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The working sick

We've all played this game once or twice (at least) in our lifetimes. You wake up, feel like abject crap, you're hacking up a lung...and you have to make that game day decision. Stay in bed, or go to work? If you're like me, the vast majority of the time, you solider on, shower and dress, and head on into the office.

You hack and you sneeze and you drop your snotty Kleenexes on the GO train.

You sit in the cubicle not too far from my office and I wince every time you begin the barking noises that emanate from what is surely a now raw, painful throat.

I feel terribly sorry for you - that can't feel good! You should be sleeping, resting, getting better.

I mentally tell you to go home.

Get the rest you need.

And keep your filthy germs to yourself. I can't afford to get sick right now, dangit!

The working sick - damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Every corporate culture is different, but generally speaking, I find there's a strange reward system in place for coming in to work sick. You're a trooper, you're sticking it out, look at you, feeling so bad but still managing to come in. There, there. So dedicated.

So infectious.

On the other hand, when you do decide it's best to keep your bubonic carcass home and in bed, you're almost chastised for not being strong enough to tough it out. Sure, you're at home resting which means you'll probably get better faster and be back to your productive self sooner AND you're not risking the health of everyone else around you...but, sigh, Jane made it in. Why couldn't you?

I've been pretty lucky lately. I used to pick up every little virus or bacteria under the sun. I'd have colds and flus all the time, but that's tapered off significantly and now, I'm all about the ear infections. Fun, but not necessarily contagious.

I had this internal debate just yesterday morning as I awoke from a delightful slumber and put my feet to the floor. I felt like crap. My ears were completely blocked, my head was swimming, and my voice was reverberating inside my head. The latter I discovered upon actually speaking to Hubs - fret not, I didn't get echoes from my internal morning monologue. I'm not that crazy.


Alas, I felt brutal. Run down, nasty, just didn't want to move.

But what did I do?

Got up, soldiered on, showered and dressed, and made my way into the office. But man oh man would I have loved to have just.stayed.home.

I only made it until 1:45pm, then headed out to catch an early train so I could flake on my couch.

And I'm back at work again today. Still not feeling great, but not bad enough to mentally justify staying home. And I have the pleasure of listening to some poor co-worker who totally should have stayed home today hack up a lung. Maybe two, it's that bad.

I honestly don't even know who it is - I just know that I want to stay as far away from her as is humanly possible. 'Cause I'd really rather not add a nasty cough to my already miserable ears on the best of days. And certainly not three days before I'm supposed to start IVF.

So, what's life like where you work? Are you encouraged to actually stay home when you're sick so you can recover faster (thereby getting back to productivity faster) and not take the rest of the office down with you? Or are you forced to function in one of those environments where the phlegm-ier you are, the more kudos you receive? I'm willing to bet most of us fall into column b, but I'm interested to see your responses.

And that's your daily dash. How's your diva doin'?

5 comments on "The working sick"

Kate on 19 August 2009 at 11:11 said...

No days off for me unless I'm dying, sadly. If I don't show up now, a bunch of patients don't get their operations done, and a surgeon gets mighty pissed off.
At least working in a hospital, I wear a mask every day, and wash or alcohol rub my hands probably 50 times a day. I've also always been sure that if I do go in with a cold, I wash or alcohol my hands any time I blow my nose, and cough into a sleeve.
Hope you feel better soon!

Tatiana on 19 August 2009 at 11:27 said...

We only recently got sick days in my office. Before that we had to use lieu time. And if you didn't have lieu time banked you were screwed. Which is so ridiculous considering the illnesses we deal with here.

I have come to work sick though but only when I know we don't have any kids coming into the office or volunteers that I could infect. I also try to keep to myself on those days.

Tania on 19 August 2009 at 21:59 said...

My husbands office gets 10 sick days a year. It's a small cozy group of 12 in this particular office, and they had this dumb @ss plague ridden chick who at least once a month would come in with some strange thing. It's like stay the f--k home if the hospital doesn't know what you have.

Then another dumb chick shows up with a super nasty something, and wouldn't you know it 5 days later DH is laid out on the sofa claiming he's dying (and in the 6 years I've known him he's only been sick enough to stay home 2x). That bug ran though the whole house, every 5 days someone else had it (there are 5 people in my house).

There comes a point when it doesn't matter if you have sick days or lieu days, you just need to stay home, for yourself to get better, and to prevent spreading it around.

Load up on the sanitizer and maybe a face mask, 'cause they predict one he!! of a flu season.

Sorry, my vent for the day.

Janny on 21 August 2009 at 19:38 said...

I had that debate myself today. Although, I'm not sick. I'm just physically and emotionally drained, which means I'm crying for nothing, and need sleep and need to not see anyone and rest and relax and have me time.

Our staff were on strike for 3 months, and I came in I was sick at the beginning, and I still came in. I felt like crap near the end from all the stress and lack of sleep, and I still put in crazy amounts of OT on every weekend. Am I regretting it right now? Damn right! My boss probably thinks I'm a god sent right about now (for the exact reasons you stated above!).

Today though, the reason I didn't stay home is because it's Friday. And I'm not 'sick' per se. 1 person called in 'sick' last week, and one left early (I'm pretty sure she was sick though), and my boss wasn't too pleased... He wasn't there today, but I didn't want to have to explain to him why I wasn't there on a Friday, when everyone could tell him that the worse thing coming out from my cubicle was me sobbing (and he's a guy's guy. I don't think he'd get it, y'a know?).


I do hope you feel better soon though. Ear aches are the WORSE! *knock on wood* I haven't had one of those in the longest time, thank god!!!

sanjeet on 10 April 2010 at 23:00 said...

Which is so ridiculous considering the illnesses we deal with here.
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