Calling in Sick – What a Sick Feeling!

Andrea Freedman

This blog post, my first of 2014, is a few days later than I had originally anticipated. Like many of you, I was excited to start fresh for the New Year. I planned on taking a break for the holidays and then jumping right back into novel querying, blogging, article writing, you name it. The trouble was I woke up the first day after the holidays only to realize that I had been stricken with a horrible flu and cold which would knock me out of commission for almost an entire week.

Luckily I had stuck to my exercise routine over the holidays but I did plan to up the intensity a little at the gym beginning in the New Year. Well, not only was I unable to do that, I could hardly move, let alone make it to the gym for even a light workout.

I did manage to get one small writing assignment finished in between napping and complaining about not feeling well but even that was not easy. Shivering with fever, I found it physically impossible to even go downstairs and check the mail.

It got me thinking; one thing I am grateful for is that I did not have to call in sick to a job. When you feel awful, it is very difficult to be productive even when you are working from home but it sure beats having to muster up the nerve to call a boss and break the news that you will not be in to work that day due to illness.

It is bad enough when one wakes up feeling sick on a Monday morning or even a Friday when it might arouse suspicion in an employer but when it happens on the first day back after a holiday it makes it that much worse.

Most companies put a lot of pressure on their employees to take very limited sick days, resulting in people coming back to work often before they are ready, only having to take another sick day soon after.

There were many times in the past when I was sick on a particular day that was one of those days where I thought “I can’t be sick today.” On those occasions I would often drag myself into work, going through one Kleenex after another, my temperate rising and my head throbbing. If I wasn’t already feeling badly enough, I was sure to be feeling worse by the end of the day. I would then have to stand on the over-crowded subway, barely making it home without collapsing.

Although there was what was referred to as a sick room where I worked, you could go lie down but what is the point of that when you feel pressure to get back to your desk and get your work done? I think if you are feeling that bad you need to be home in your own bed.

I recall one boss I had many years ago who, when I did absolutely have to call in sick, used to say things to me like “Can you just put on jeans and come in?”, as if what I was wearing was going to do anything to improve my nausea and raging fever, or “What did the doctor say?” I could not understand how anyone in their right mind would think that a person calling them from bed before eight in the morning would have had a chance to go to the doctor. Besides that, I know when I don’t feel well and I don’t need a doctor to tell me that.

Once I had finally made a decision to stay home (often after calling my grandmother early in the morning for encouragement) I certainly did not wish to spend what was supposed to be a restful day at home sitting in a doctor’s office with a bunch of other sick people.

Our health should be one of our top priorities but unfortunately the culture of our workforce makes people go to work when they should really be at home taking care of themselves. This is especially true for those who are paid hourly and get no money when they are sick.

While we are on the subject, I wish employers would stay home when they are sick too. No one is, contrary to popular belief, that important that a business would fall apart if he or she were not there for one day. Still, many bosses choose to come in and cough all over everyone and everything in the workplace and then wonder why their employees are off sick the next day.

Cold and flu season is difficult enough to deal with. We all need to do our part to ensure that we make it through the winter as easily and as healthily as possible and we can each help do that by looking after ourselves and trying not to spread germs to others.

Remember, if you find yourself feeling under the weather one morning, do yourself as well as your co-workers a favour and don’t be afraid to stay home. You are adults with bosses who hopefully trust and respect you enough to realize that you are not playing hooky from work but are in fact legitimately sick.

I may not be getting a steady paycheque, but on the days when I wake up not feeling well, this winter, the only place I will be going is right back to bed.☼

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2014

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About andfreed

I am a Toronto based writer of articles, columns, essays and novels.

Posted on January 10, 2014, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten sick from a colleague who came into work sick!

    Like

  2. Very true, Andrea. You describe the often-time needless stresses and pressures of the workplace very well. Aren’t you happy to be out of it?

    Like

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