Archives for posts with tag: Sickness

Ever had food poisoning before? The kind where you wonder if you’ll ever get out of this black hole? It feels like someone is drilling you a new eye socket, while at the same time hitting your stomach with a baseball bat. Meanwhile the rest of your body has gone to defcon 3 and is ejecting whatever is inside you from both ends?

Ever had a brutal hangover? The symptoms for me are the same. You can’t control an episode of food poisoning, even if you’re careful, but you can a hangover, so I avoid them wherever possible.

Ever had a migraine? A proper one? Guess what, the symptoms for me are the same. Unfortunately, apart from avoiding certain foods like chocolate and cheese, you can’t really control them either. Besides, who wants to live in a world completely bereft of chocolate and cheese?

The cure for all three aliments is the same. It’s not medication. I’s not really hydration, though that helps somewhat. It is sleep. If. I. Can. Just. Get. To. Sleep. I’ll. Be. OK. It’s really hard to do it with all the pain and the upheaval, but if I can finally get to sleep, I can sleep it off and emerge the other side.

So, in case you didn’t know, you do now. Food poisoning, hangovers, migraines. Same symptoms, same cure.

I got sick the other day. Quite sick actually, and I needed a sick bed. About once a year I get a migraine, and about once every other year I get a bad migraine. I have learned to notice signs one is coming on. I have also learned the factors that precipitate one, though it’s usually too late for me to adjust my lifestyle.

Usually I get a migraine in the late afternoon or evening, and I can go straight to bed and shut the word away until I re-emerge on the other side. When I get a bad one the symptoms kick in during the morning.

The other day, I noticed the signs of temporary oblivion around 8am as I was driving into the office where I work for about a week every month. The office is about an hour’s drive from where I stay, in another country from where I live.

After about 2 hours of taking meds and fighting the inevitable, I informed the office manager in halting English – I can’t string a sentence together when I have a migraine, and forget the names of common objects and people I know well – that I needed to lie down in the building’s sick room.

There was no sick room, and no sick bed serving the 5 floors of office space housing the handful of companies. All the rooms have lights on that came on automatically. So, here I was, stuck an hour’s drive from where I was staying and not capable of much more beyond curling up in a ball. Eventually, I found a large bean bag, and the building manager opened up a disused room in the basement with nothing in it, not even a light.

After spending 2 hours in there, I felt well enough to drive to where I was staying, at which point I went straight to bed for 5 hours, until I had slept off the horrendousness of food poisoning-like symptoms and felt semi-human again.

You would have thought a large office building would have a sick bay though, wouldn’t you?

As a footnote to this sorry story, I had to take my first sick day in ten years. I had a suspicion when I wrote that post that it might come back to haunt me…

I’m quite pleased with myself. Today marks the point where I’ve gone 10 years without missing a working day due to sickness.

The last time I got sick was a rather nasty dose of viral meningitis. As luck would have it, it was over a bank holiday so I was only absent for work for 2 days. I can’t remember the last time I was sick before then. Alright, so I might have left work twice at around 4pm with a migraine, but not even a half-day ‘sickie’ has blemished my work attendance record for the last decade.

I’m not breaking any kind of health record here, and I’m not saying I’m the healthiest person that has ever lived either. What it boils down to is – yes – being fairly healthy, but more importantly it’s about culture and work ethic.

I’ve not had to suffer working in a large or public sector organisation where people play the system and take a sickie as if it’s their fortnightly right. These people are not invested in their organisation and those kinds of places would drive me mad. And as for the ‘oh, I’m staying at home, I don’t want to pass it on through the office,’ puh-lease. Those folks – and the colleagues and bosses that encourage them to do that – well, let’s just say it’s a different culture. The kind of culture that doesn’t think it’s their problem when billions of dollars of national productivity are lost annually through sickness. Plus, it’s no accident that incidence rates of sickness are far lower among the self-employed.

Many’s the time I’ve had a bit of ‘man flu’ or have poorly rebounded from a night of moderate imbibition, but you go in, you suck it up, take your meds and get on with it. If it’s a genuine illness – and I think meningitis scores quite well against that criterion – then, fair enough, stay away and get better. But if it’s not, then come on, gone are the days when organisations had the buffer to cover for a sick person. We’re all busy, we’re all maxed. Work is a team game and your colleagues are relying on you.

So I’m raising a glass to another 10 years of sickness-free work. Only the one glass though. It’s a school night and I don’t want to have to take a sickie tomorrow…