I don't know a single hard working woman in her twenties that hasn't uttered the phrase, 'I don't call in sick'. This is an American thing, I think. I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to going to work with chills, on the verge of vomiting, or choking on phlegm, but that has always been less about pride and more wanting to reserve my sick days for long weekends and/or the worst hangover of my life.
I felt it coming on Monday, but pushed. I went to school on Tuesday voiceless, but that's not saying much-- my lungs are always the first to cave to a compromised immune system. I figured I'd plow through the day, get to bed early on Tuesday night, and be well by Wednesday.
Wednesday morning started off fine, but by lunch I was aching all over. By evening I was so delirious with fever that I thought I was dreaming when the judges on American Idol finally told that hot chick with the tattoo sleeve that she actually sucks as a singer. I didn't feel all too guilty about calling in sick on Thursday-- I only had two classes, and they were testing anyway.
Last night, while propped up on the couch surrounded by clouds of Kleenex and a high-tech thermometer, I realized I had a serious choice on my hands. Do I take another day to get well? Friday I had some important lessons to get through; it wasn't just a day of quiet testing. My quandary was further complicated by memories of an email a student sent me the last time I had to call a sub to take part in a study at a local university. Here's an excerpt:
Anyways, I don't know if anyone turned in a rough draft but I know for fact me and my friends around me were working. Although we did not get them done. Anyways I was concerned that the entire class will be in trouble when really we were just as normal as we always are...I just thought you should know what happened, either before or after you read her report on today's class.
I made myself a deal that if my temperature got any higher than 99.9 degrees then I would call in. When it did, I told myself that once it got over 100, I'd definitely call in. When it reached 101, I honestly said to myself, '101 is not that high. I can do this.'
When L got off a work call and found me crouched on the bathroom floor to feel the coolness of the tiles on my skin, I knew enough was enough. I didn't care about what the sub would or wouldn't do with my classes today; I didn't care about the emails that will surely come from students absolving themselves for giving him/her a hard time. I'll deal with it Monday, when I'm well.
A woman in her thirties finally gets that, sick or not, this world has the craziest way of spinning along without her help.