Sick Leave

When I was a kid, I was never allowed to shirk school unless I was really sick. The definition of “really sick” was “not able to get out of bed”.

So, on the days when I decided I was too sick to go to school, I was obliged to stay in bed for the rest of the day. In those days I didn’t even have a TV in my room, let alone a games console. Staying in bed got rather boring rather quickly, and generally I decided I was well enough to go back to school the following day.

Of course, I was lucky enough not to be a sickly child. Apart from the usual childhood illnesses and the occasional bad cold, I didn’t really get sick.

This mindset has stayed with me into adulthood. I feel guilty about calling in to work sick. Generally, if I wake up feeling rotten, I will attempt to crawl into the shower anyway. If I’m feeling sort of OK after that, I’ll struggle into work. And then, I figure since I’m at work, I may as well stay there, since I got that far.

Generally I don’t have a lot of time off sick. Until the time I had bronchitis, three years ago, and was signed off work for nearly a month, I’d averaged maybe three days off sick a year.

However, times change. I’m no doctor, but I’m convinced the viruses are changing, too. Once upon a time you got a cold virus, you felt rotten for a couple of days and might be sniffly for a week, but unless you had flu you could generally go about your day. Not so anymore. I think as we develop these anti-bacterial agents that kill 99% of all germs, the 1% that survive evolve to become tougher.

I’ve just returned to work today after a virus that floored me for a week. It started as all viruses do – sore throat, sneezing, cough, stuffed up nose, foggy head. This kicked in the weekend before last, and I was off work on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I went into work, as I thought I felt a bit better. By the time I got there, it was evident I didn’t. I came home at lunch time, and ended up off sick the rest of the week. I spent my week wrapped up in a duvet on the sofa. Only the SyFy channel’s daily dose of “Buffy” and my significant “to be read” pile kept me sane. I couldn’t even spend the time at home writing – my head felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool and I couldn’t concentrate on anything.

Today I feel rather better so went back to work. I’m still coughing and blowing my nose constantly. However, I’ve spoken to quite a lot of people who’ve had this virus this winter, and it seems these symptoms hang on for rather a long time. Viruses spread quickly amongst commuters – no doubt it’s down to being packed in to tube carriages like sardines.

You’d think, in the 21st century, modern medicine advances would have developed a cure for the cold virus in all its mutations. But it seems not. You can waste a lot of money on cold remedies, but ultimately all that can be done with a virus is to rest and keep warm. And drink fluids.

Well, I did all that for a week, and I think maybe my antibodies are winning the war. But there’s still a few guerilla germs hanging on in there. I’m consuming Echinacea pills and vast quantities of Vitamin C in an attempt to beat off the stragglers. Begone, germs. Don’t you know when you’re not wanted?


1 comment so far

  1. Rosie on

    So sorry you were so sick…I had no idea and would have called you had I known. Washing your hands is a good idea too. When you get to work first thing you should do. Think of all those things you have touched on the way, handles, doors, rails etc. all carrying germs. Don’t go anywhere near your mouth with your hands/fingers until you have washed them. Glad to hear you are feeling somewhat better now. x

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