I hate being sick

In the interest of blog synergy, I’m reposting this from my old blog.

I’m actually quite lucky. Despite being surrounded by infectious diseases for sixty hours a week, I don’t get sick all that much (OK, maybe more than most, but I don’t have data). I actually called in sick for part of the day, something I rarely do. And that got me thinking…

When I see a patient with the flu, strep throat, and other infectious diseases, I recommend that they take several days off from work—not just to recover, but to avoid sharing the bugs. A high percentage of my patients refuse, due to fears of losing their jobs. These fears are usually legitimate.

Are we insane?!?

Do we really want sick people sharing our offices? It’s true, some people are indispensable. Last night, for instance, there wasn’t anyone else available to run the walk-in clinic, and we can’t just close it down, so I sucked it up, wore gloves, and tried not to breathe on people.

But how often is someone really indispensable? I’m guessing not that often.

To add insult to misery, many jobs require lengthy forms to be filled out by the employee and their doctor whenever they are out sick. I don’t really have time to do that kind of uncompensated work, but do I want to let my patient get fired?

We need a revolution in our thinking in this country. When people have communicable diseases, they should be taken off work with little hassle. It shouldn’t be a choice. During flu season, removing a few people from the workforce temporarily could save many others from getting sick.

Well, that’s my rant for the day. Luckily I made chicken soup for my wife this weekend, and there’s plenty left over.


7 responses to “I hate being sick”

  1. usagi

    Are we insane?!?


    This has been another edition of short answers to simple questions–ht Atrios

    I believe this is a largely invisible and vestigial leftover from the pre-germ theory age when there was a serious belief that sickness was a sign of moral failure. You’re ill? The gods are pissed at you. You’ve failed in some way, probably because you’re really a bad person. Good people don’t get sick. And even if you are sick and it really wasn’t your fault, there’s work to be done and you’ll let down the team if you don’t suck it up and go on. Rah, rah, rah; blah, blah, blah. Yeah, it’s all wrapped up in a big tangled ball of insane.

    I was actually pleasantly surprised flipping channels on the radio earlier this week when one of the morning radio programs mentioned that the regular host was out because the station manager told him to stay away (radio station with a major event this weekend+host with strep throat around other hosts=potential disaster). Would that every manager would get the damn memo: if they’re sick, send them home and tell them to stay there till they’re well. This is good business practice and well as basic decency.

  2. Thankfully, my bosses are a bit more enlightened. I have a job where I can work from home, and we are encouraged to do so to prevent spreading disease. The loss of one person’s full productivity is much better than losing half the office.

    I had a high fever one day and went into work to get my computer. I mentioned it to my boss and saying I might need to work at home because I woke up with a 102-degree fever. He said, “there is no ‘might.’ You WILL work at home.” We need more people like that.

  3. nanoAl

    I’m reminded of ‘sicko’, where Moore basically points out that this mentality pretty much doesn’t exist in Europe. Even here in Canada its usually not so hard to get sick time (unless you work in construction here in AB, but then you could just get another job anyway), my parents take their sick time all the the time, its not such a big deal.
    Clearly its just Americans that are insane. all of you.

  4. I wish you to get well soon! We need you!

  5. sruths

    USAGI – you are right about the equation illness = moral failure, but this concept has not gone away. Witness the modern crusade against obesity, which completely sidesteps scientific evidence (showing for eg that obesity a) isn’t an illness b) doesn’t cause illness c) doesn’t shorten your life expectancy and d) is not caused by the old-fashioned sins of sloth and gluttony – refs to evidence against each of these and other myths found in abundance on junkfoodscience.blogspot.com) to heap unwarranted blame and censure on fat people if they do get sick.

  6. Interrobang

    The week before last, I wound up missing my whole week worth of work because I came down with a nasty sinus infection and my boss heard what I sounded like on the phone and ordered me to stay home. I love my work…

    On the other hand, I’m Canadian, and I think people here do have a slightly different attitude towards sickness and work. Maybe it’s the long winters or something…

  7. Dean Austin

    usagi | June 3, 2008 5:54 PM wrote: “belief that sickness was a sign of moral failure”

    I think you’re being much to generous to employers on this one. I think the truth is that most employers simply don’t give a crap about employees, only their bottom line, and don’t want productivity to go down by allowing sick leave.

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