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Archive for December 2nd, 2007

When is sick enough to call in sick?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

I am the type of person to work through anything.

My sophomore year of college, it got to the point where I couldn’t even hear customers orders at the bowling alley before I went in to the doctor — and then, only after I was out of class and done with the Stater for the semester. By that point, I had two ear infections, an upper respiratory infection and a fever of 102.

When I was at an assignment this spring and got a call saying my grandma was in the hospital and doctors were saying she’d be lucky to live through the next day, I came back to the office and wrote the lead story for the next day’s paper before calling my editor to tell him I wasn’t sure if I’d be back for work the next day because I was driving up that night to see my grandma.

Last Thursday, when I felt like I was going to pass out, as if the blood had rushed from my body and the world spun when I opened my eyes or I felt like I was spinning when I shut them, even with a fever that made me lethargic the whole afternoon, I plodded through to file the A1 centerpiece for the next day. And knowing I had to finish all my Schools Page copy and local centerpiece for Monday, I went into work feeling like crap Friday.

Rather than go see my friend’s final performance with his band Friday night, I passed out around 9 p.m. and slept until almost 9 a.m. The sleep made me feel better for most of the day. I did get downtown for a bit and out to see a play, though not up to seeing another co-worker’s band that night. I thought perhaps I’d just been sick from stress or something on Thursday and Friday, which has happened to me before.

But then since I woke up this morning and felt maybe 55-60 percent, I’m reconsidering. I’ve been achy all day and I definitely have a fever right now. I could just sleep through next weekend and still be tired. So, I’m wondering if I haven’t picked up some type of virus that is making me just exhausted. I’m paranoid about getting sick, but with all the hands I shake and kids I’m around it’s kind of inevitable.

I am going to try to get to bed early (very soon) and sleep it off because I have to go to work tomorrow. But if I feel like I do now tomorrow, I’m in for one really long, unhappy day. Which sucks. Because what if it’s not just stress or lack of sleep catching up? What if it is a virus, and I could get someone else sick? Or what if it is just everything catching up, and I just continue falling behind — does this serve anyone?

I was talking to one of my friends tonight about it, and she suggested I take a sick day to recover. She said it’d be in everyone’s best interest. But I don’t even know how to do that because I never have. And I suspect my editor would be pretty upset for me to not be in there to finish my story supposed to run Tuesday on A1. And I don’t have all the interviews done so I could even write it here. Ugh. So I have to go to work.

My friend made the point that I should worry less about upsetting my editor for a day and more about my health. Her line, “The company doesn’t really care about me,” sounds like something Barb would say, and I know it’s true. But I feel bad letting anyone down. Plus, we’re down a reporter until we fill the county slot anyway. Plus, I’m not like vomiting or at the hospital. I don’t even think I’ll go to the doctor unless I continue to feel this crappy all week, and even then not likely. (I haven’t actually gotten a doctor in Lafayette. I haven’t needed to yet, and don’t know how to go about doing it since prior to my move, I’ve had the same family doctor since I was born. I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.)

I don’t know. Part of me thinks she is right. I need to recoup and get back to 100 percent, or at least close. Otherwise I’ll be at 60 percent for a long time, and the total return will be less overall than if I missed one day. But on the other hand, we’re down a reporter and I do have a story for A1 Tuesday, and calling in sick would be a poor welcome back from vacation present to my boss. :/

Shrug. I don’t know when sick is sick enough, because I always just work to the point of no return. And this is exactly the time of year every year where I hit that point. It’s almost uncanny how predictable it is that I will be overwhelmed and sick the two or so weeks around Thanksgiving. But I usually push myself to see the semester through and then fall in a heap of exhaustion after the final exam and recoup for a few weeks. No such luck this year. There is no final/end in sight. I just have to chug along. Which is the only reason I’m even considering a sick day at all, because either now when I’m at 60 or then, when I hit maybe 25 percent and after many many more subpar days, will I have to take the time to recoup. It’s probably unavoidable. Ugh. Being a grown up sucks.