The following is a quick recap of my adventures in believing I could handle it all…while being sick.
My son had just finished being taken to urgent care for an asthma and coughing related concern. Through the span of about a week he had gone through sniffling, sneezing, coughing, achy head, losing his voice, and difficulty breathing. As if that weren’t enough, my wife shared some of the same symptoms. Pretty soon these symptoms came my way and…I ignored them.
Looking back, I’m not sure why I ignored them though. Perhaps I simply wasn’t in the right frame of mind to begin to even recognize them in myself. Perhaps I was focused on taking care of others who had been sick at home. Perhaps I was preoccupied by all that needed to be done in the office and didn’t have time to be distracted by something as trivial as being sick.
Back in the day, I grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington (in case you haven’t seen my childhood photograph on our staff page), there was no such thing a sick day. Things simply needed to get done. I guess I’m equal parts stubborn, motivated to contribute to the whole, and driven to deliver on what is expected, not matter what.
And then it hit me. Not only did I get sick but I didn’t get better over the course of a week-and-a-half. I was coughing uncontrollably, my throat hurt, and I must have bought five boxes of Kleenex (for the bedroom, the living room, the car, the office, etc.). On top of all of that, I lost my voice. Thinking of only myself, I could have chugged right along. However, it was the looks around the office that got me thinking. It was sitting in meetings and watching others inch slowly away from my chair. It was coughing more than a few times during my first presentation to the Board of Trustees.
Perhaps not in the right order, I completed all necessary things in the office, scheduled a doctor’s appointment, and took a sick day. As it turns out I wasn’t dying (although I felt like it) and was given a 10-day supply of antibiotics. In the end I believe I took 2.5 days of sick leave and felt sick around 7 days in total. The moral of this story is that everyone has their own work ethic. Everyone must also answer to a supervisor who sets expectations for what must be completed in any given week. Luckily for me, my supervisor was completely supportive of the time I felt necessary to be out of the office, simply asking if there was anything that needed to be picked up by other staff members while I was out.
If you find yourself in the same predicament as I did, I would suggest touching base with your supervisor to quickly discuss how you are feeling, the workload that should be adjusted while you are out, and finally determining if professional help (seeing a doctor) might be a next step. Your coworkers will also thank you for not spreading additional germs in the office environment.