Thursday, October 1, 2009

the producer

So everything was going really great and then - I got a cold. Or a flu, I'm not really sure. The symptoms started on Tuesday, I was at work but felt rotten, with a sore throat and feeling generally fatigued. I bought a bag of Ricolas and pushed through the day, even though I wanted to just burrow into a big duvet and stay there.

But since then it's gotten worse and I've stayed home from work. I miss it, I miss the library and the group of people I've been working with this past week, and who I won't see for a while after this week is over (and that's if I go back to work before the end of the week).

While being sick isn't fun, with a very runny nose, a sore throat and a cough, and a mildly elevated temperature, it's actually been a little bit nice to be able to slow down and just rest. I'm at my friend N's house, so while I'm not home in my own place, this place is as home-like as someone else's house can be, I think. And, they have a deck overlooking their big, green back-yard, and some leafed-out maple and apple trees. So, I've listened to my body, and gotten some easy Tetra-paks of organic soup, some tuna and crackers, and some fresh fruit, and I've been practicing the moment-by-moment art of taking care of myself. Which means, a lot of sleeping, and since it has been nice out, sitting on the back deck listening to crickets and the rustling of the leaves.

But while my instincts are spot on, and I know that I have to follow them to truly get better and kick this cold's butt, I still feel bad calling in sick for work. How weird is that? Actually, it's not that weird, or at least, it seems to be normal, based on the people I've talked to who all feel the same way. But it's still messed up - I feel that I'm not being "productive" or that I'm not "tough" if I call in sick. I also feel like my boss or co-workers are going to be disappointed in me, or think I'm lying. Not that any of them have said such a thing! But I think we all believe somewhat in a cultural "productivity myth" that goes something like: being productive is the path to being a Good Person. Being sick means you are not productive. Therefore, being sick means you are not a Good Person.

To top that off, we seem to have a belief that goes alongside it, that only weak people get sick, and that if you can't just push through, you're weak.

Here's a funny twist on the word "productive": I called the Nova Scotia Health Hotline (811) today, to get a nurse's opinion on my cold symptoms (and also on the toe I stubbed, badly, yesterday, and which is now slightly swollen and bruised, but that's a whole other story). The nurse was asking me about my cough.

"So, your cough, does it bring up anything?"
"Like, mucous, or sputum?"
"Yes, exactly."
"Yes, occasionally."
"OK, so it's a productive cough then..."

So apprently I'm actually still "productive," even while I'm staying home sick. Ha!

Do you dread calling in sick? Or are you fearless advocate for your own health? I'd love to hear about it.

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