about this sitesee Meranda's resumesee clips and work sampleskeep in touch

When is sick enough to call in sick?

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.

4 Responses to “When is sick enough to call in sick?”

  1. Charlie Says:

    I take it you took a little time off? Hope you didn’t wind up feeling too guilty. You may have deadlines, your work may be short a reporter (and who’s responsibility is that? you?), but they can’t expect you to screw up your health getting the job done. It’s a short-term gain for a long-term problem. I had to take some time off my newspaper job today too, what with some damn infection I have. Missed a city council meeting, but that couldn’t be helped. I tend to be a pretty good lil’ workaholic myself, but you can’t do that all the time. Hope you hunkered down and caught up on your reading.

    Feel better – and don’t feel guilty. You work hard, you earn an honest sick day or three.


  2. Meranda Says:

    Charlie — I actually did stay home today. When I woke up at 7 a.m. just as exhausted as if I’d not slept the previous 10 hours and just as achy, I pretty much knew today would absolutely suck if I went in.

    I did feel guilty, especially when I checked my e-mail mid-afternoon and another reporter gmail chatted me about how she still had three stories left. But the fact that I spent almost the entire day dead asleep in bed tells me it was needed.

    My editor was nice about it. He was probably pissed because it left him with like two reporters all morning, but he didn’t seem too upset when I called. He said the same thing, to take care of myself and get some rest. I guess he probably realizes, like I did, that prolonging feeling like crap by not dealing with it doesn’t benefit anyone.

    Hope you feel better too!

  3. Charlie Says:

    Yeah, my boss was cool as well. My symptoms could be construed as staph, (staphish?) and given all the press MRSA has gotten, my editor thought it prudent I skipped the city council meeting. Feeling a lot better today, thankfully. What I had is some red spots on my legs. Yesterday, they only hurt if I was wearing pants, which meant I was pretty screwed at work. It’s conditions like these that tell you to go home.

    Hope that’s not too much information for you. Hope you’re feeling better, too.

    This makes me want to start my own blog. I’m a cub reporter myself, but the newspaper here pretty much believes the internet will go away in a few short years. So I’ve turned to all the blogs and learning programs I can find to shore this up. This is good stuff. I clambered on when you had a post about how ‘Senior staff doesn’t listen to new people? But they listen to me.’ and have been reading a good bit ever since. Good stuff.

    Also liked the piece about people asking you when you’d grow out of journalism. Our bloody ad ladies are like that, asking me if I secretly want to become a doctor. You would think once you get inside the industry, people would be supportive, right? Right.

  4. Meranda Says:

    Last week, just as I was starting to fill sick, I happened to be reporting a story on MRSA. Any time you report about something, you instantly get paranoid, “What if I have it?”

    I too felt better today, much much better. But it was annoying when everyone else commented, “You sound/look better.” Like, did I look like crap before? :/ But I think they meant well. All in all, the world did not end because I missed a day of work. The story got pushed back to later this week, and I’ll be fine.