Sick Day

I canít remember how long itís been since I called in sick to work. The circumstances have to be pretty extreme, since I enjoy the day to day of my job. But yesterday was one of those rare occasions.

I knew I was coming down with something when I got home from work on Tuesday. I tried to nip it in the bud by going to bed ridiculously early (like 7), in the hopes that Iíd sleep off what was ailing me. But it was to no avail: I woke up on Wednesday feeling twice as crappy.

Through the congestion and throbbing sinus pressure, I somehow managed to dial the phone to call Jeff and plead his forgiveness. Iím not sure how he managed to translate my admittedly garbled message, but given the fact that I still have a job today, I guess he did.

After leaving said message, I dipped into the store of decongestants which I Ė chronic allergy sufferer that I am Ė keep handy, and promptly went back to sleep.

My sickness-addled brain, aided by the dose of pseudoephedrine, went through a somersault of bizarre dreams and half-dreams until it settled on one pulled from the far reaches of my memory.

It was the ghost of a sick day past, circa sixth grade. In those days, strep throat and I had something of an ongoing relationship. Iíd come down with it like clockwork once a year.

Oh, it would try to sneak up on me. The fever would come first, while the sore throat waited in the wings for the perfect time to strike. And when it did, Iíd usually be out of school for a solid week.

And what a week it would be. My mom always took such good care of me. Iíd get to sleep on the couch, and sheíd bring me tea and toast, or scrambled eggs. Sheíd also make sure I took my medicine on time, keep me well hydrated, monitor my temperature, replenish my tissue supply as needed and all that good stuff.

My job would be to nap. The rest of the time, Iíd either read or watch movies. If I hadnít actually been horribly ill through the whole thing, I might even have enjoyed it.

But ďenjoyĒ really isnít in the cards when youíre spiking a fever, your throat is so sore you can barely swallow, your whole body hurts from coughing and your head feels like it weighs roughly the equivalent of a baby elephant. A feverish, baby elephant, balanced precariously on your scrawny, aching little neck like it was one of those circus balls.

I donít know about you, but thatís not my definition of a good time.

And we havenít even gotten to the really gross stuff, like the vomiting. Or the phlegm.

But those were still the good old days compared to being sick when you are an adult. Youíre still stuck with all the sniffling, sneezing, aching part of being sick Ė usually with a host of other unseemly, misery-inducing symptoms. But we donít have the luxury of taking a whole week off to recuperate. Nor is Mom there to cater to our every whim.

No, youíre left to deal with the hacking, the puking and the fever-induced hot flashes all on your own.

Youíre stuck with all of the decisions that go along with being sick. Like deciding whether to suffer through another day slumped at your desk and risk infecting the whole office, or tap into your precious sick time. And there is the quandary over whether over-the-counter remedies are enough to knock whatever it is out of your system, or if it is serious enough to warrant coughing up the co-pay and taking advantage of that high priced health insurance you pay into with each pay check. Assuming you can wangle a same-day appointment with your primary care, that is.

Well, assuming you have a primary care physician.

Whereís the school nurse when you need her? She was always so good at making those calls.

And then there is the insult to injury part.

A sick day when you are a kid meant you are absolved of all duties and responsibilities during that day. Not so when you are an adult. Youíre not only saddled with making your own toast and tea and scrambling your own eggs, but in all likelihood there will be a chore or two youíll also get stuck with. For me, it was laundry.

And work has a way of rearing its head as well. I was doomed from the start yesterday, knowing as I did that there was a board of education meeting with my name on it. There was also a message from a friend about a snowmobile accident to pass along, and a column to write. (Ahem.) And overshadowing it all was the knowledge that when I did return to work, Iíd have to deal with all of the other tasks Iíd put off for a day.

But despite all that, the sick day seems to have done the trick. Iím feeling a whole heck of a lot better today. With the exception of my splitting headache, which came on with renewed force during the school board meeting. But thatís really par for the course, unfortunately.

(I stuck it out for about 2 1/2 hours, but left when I thought I was starting to hallucinate. I could have sworn I heard one school board member suggest the district actually increase expenditures on athletics during the current budget crisis. No one can be that obtuse, can they?)

And now, as everyone else in the county enjoys a snow day, Iím back in front of my computer. Attempting to turn my still-slightly-muddled attention to everything I missed during my mini-absence.

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