Sometimes you just have to write…

Being sick


Cold-treatment necessities chez moi

Cold-treatment necessities chez moi

There are basically two types of people with colds or flu:

  1. those who give in to it entirely, and
  2. those who fight it every step of the way, mostly through denying they’re sick.

Type 1 are the ones who call in sick at the first sign of a sore throat, the first cough, the first sneeze. They stay in bed, drinking tea with lemon and honey or whatever their favorite home remedy is, popping miracle cure vitamin pills, and generally wallowing. A few days later, they come out the other side, shiny and healthy – and often annoyingly espousing the health benefits of said miracle cures.

Type 2, the rest of us – yes, I’m in this group – stubbornly refuse to admit we’re getting sick.

Wake up with a sore throat like I did a full week ago? No problem: a few cough drops and the pain’s reduced enough to ignore it. Never mind that the sore throat goes on for a whole week, so painful at times that I find myself avoiding swallowing.

A cough or two, which started about three days ago? Same thing: drink some water and it stops. Never mind that it keeps coming back so I spend my days gulping water and tea and making frequent trips to the toilet.

Sneezing, with a stuffy nose, which started about two days ago? Oh, that’s just allergies. Never mind that it’s long past my usual allergy season.

And at the same time as I’m studiously ignoring all of my symptoms, I’m plowing through a regular work week:

  • Monday and Wednesday: Teaching in a secondary school. As you can imagine, that takes a strong voice.
  • Tuesday and Thursday: Teaching at a teacher-training college. This week that included three 1½-hour lectures, which is not particularly conducive to healing my throat.

The last straw was Friday. Instead of my usual short day of teaching (only one lesson, normally), I went to a teacher conference, something I always enjoy. Being a teacher at a teacher conference involves a lot of talking. There are just so many ideas to exchange!

By the time I got home on Friday evening, I was speaking a soft sort of croak that my colleagues jokingly called “sexy.” I think in reality it was more creepy than sexy.

So, a week after my first symptoms, I’ve given in. I spent all day yesterday lying down, not talking, drinking lots of fluids, not eating much, mostly watching the cult classic Twin Peaks series on DVD.

It’s Sunday now, and I’m feeling much better. I’m still coughing and sneezing, and my voice is still sexy/creepy, but physically I have a lot more energy. I have a full week of teaching ahead of me, including three more lectures, all of which I still need to prepare. I also have some grading to do.

So here’s the question I’ll be pondering all day: should I call in sick for tomorrow?

If I call in sick:

  • I might feel entirely better later in the day, and then I’ll feel guilty for having called in sick.
  • My students will miss lessons they need in order to ensure their good results on the IB exams next year. But it would only be one day, so taken as a fraction of the total number of lessons they’re meant to get from me, it’s tiny.
  • My English students will be relieved to get two extra days to prepare the presentations they’re supposed to give tomorrow.
  • I could just lie down again for the rest of today and get myself fully recovered, so that I could do my preparations and grading tomorrow instead of today.
  • And I could put off until tomorrow the weekly grocery shopping I usually do on Sunday evening.

If I don’t call in sick:

  • I won’t miss any lessons.
  • I’ll find it difficult to teach if my voice is still as soft as it is now.
  • Even if I start out with my voice sounding normal, it’s likely to deteriorate from overuse over the course of the day.
  • I might get sicker again as a result of trying to operate at a normal level all day, leading to calling in sick later in the week or leading to another week of trying to ignore that I’m sick.

Reading this over, I know that if someone else wrote this, I’d say “Call in sick. Then you can well and truly get rid of this cold, rather than carrying it with you for weeks because you didn’t treat it.”

Yet, as a type 2, I’m reluctant to do that. It all comes down to guilt. I’m paid to work, and feel guilty if I don’t. Where does that come from?

So should I call in sick or not? What would you do? I mean, what would you really do? Are you a give-in-to-it type 1 or a fight-it-till-the-bitter-end type 2?

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This entry was posted on September 29, 2013 by in Being a Teacher, Life in Holland and tagged , , .
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