It’s Friday. I made it through the entire crazy week but today as I was starting to walk out the door to work, another wave of nausea hit me and I knew.
I have to call in sick.
I hate calling in sick. I really, really do. Number one, I have three kids that I need to support, so I need to work. My husband can’t support all of us on one income in this crazy city we live in. Number two, having a chronic illness means I’m pretty much sick all of the time. If I called in sick every time I felt like a turd then I would be out of a job. I’ve always fancied myself a superwoman, and I really don’t want to show weakness. It doesn’t match well with my unitard and cape.
Even before I was diagnosed with Behcet’s, I remember going to university with a high fever. I have no idea why I thought it was so important to be there, but I have a distinct memory of being in the IRC at UBC, lying down on the couches outside of Woodward Library with a fever.
After diagnosis, my tenacity didn’t change, but my health did because the medication I had to take was specifically to weaken my immune system. It was my immune system that I was battling after all. It had gone rogue, so the only way to fight it was to attack myself.
I got physically weaker, unable to fight even the tiniest of infections. I started catching illnesses that were mostly seen in small children or the elderly. I got shingles, hand foot mouth disease, whooping cough (and yes I have been fully vaccinated multiple times).
It became such a problem that I had to quit one job over the handling of my sick time. My former boss even said in passing that she didn’t know I had a chronic illness when she hired me. Because that is a legal way of determining new hires…but anyway.
Now every time I get a new job, I’m extremely judicious about when I call in sick. Bent over and puking? OK. Diarrhea for days? OK. High fever? Maybe. Massive migraine? Get my ass in to work. Coughing and runny nose? Not good enough to skip a shift. Badly sprained ankle? Ride around work on a slick new knee scooter.
I’ve also cut my hours so that I can keep myself healthier overall, so I don’t get those really bad illnesses that wipe me out for days. That makes it all the more crappy when I have to skip one of my three shifts for the week.
But the other thing that sucks is that my youngest is now in preschool. Any parent knows that anywhere little kids hang out together is a crazy germ factory. This bug that has caused me to call is sick is a gift from her. After a week of puking in bed, coughing and sneezing, she had kindly bestowed her virus unto me. She is my third, so after dealing with the first two kids, I’ve figured out that I will be constantly sick until she hits the second grade. Then I should be good again.
I only have about four more years to go.