I Don’t Want to Work with a Head Cold

Chamomile tea helps if you must work with a head cold - Pyragraph
The chamomile tea that shall wash the sniffles away.

If I could wish a wish of wellness, it would be for Americans to focus a little less on production production production, and more on our well-being.

I hate the pressure I feel, when sick and sniffly, TO WORK ANYWAY, when the most strenuous thing I should be doing is going for the neti pot. Not to get all preaching-from-the-organic-free-range-artisanally-crafted-soap-box here, but if productivity is actually what we’re concerned with, resting when you’re sickly makes you more productive in the long run. I hate hate hate the idea that when we’re sick we’re missing out. Losing time! Losing units! Not making enough widgets! Yada yada yada! Boo.

Of course, I still feel the pressure to work when sick, but not in the same way I once did, when I was employed by others. I always felt this pull between being a “reliable employee” and a “responsible citizen,” i.e. not patient zero of a city-wide head cold epidemic. Being around other people’s food (as a server) when you’re sniffly is gross. You don’t want to give people your leprosy-ebola-whooping-cough-bucketfuls-of-snot-disease, but your employer is still relying on you, right? They need to know you don’t back out, except for really good reasons, right? They need to know you’re dependable and healthy, right? Also, you need the money.

It can be hard to draw the line. How do you know, exactly, when you can go back to work?

Oftentimes, this tricky equation led to me working when I shouldn’t have. But, things are different now for me, being self-employed. Because why the fuck would I sing when I have a sore throat? That feels shitty in real time and hurts my career more over the long term. Well, maybe I would if I were really, really famous with really, really important shows to play. Actually, I have done shows when sniffly, when I would have rather stayed home. It’s hard to cancel on things you love.

All of this has been about going to work with a head cold, really.

I’m not talking about long-term, sometimes debilitating illnesses. I have very little experience with those. Except—and I think I’m allowed to talk about this, because it’s already been talked about here—I babysit a little girl who has aplastic anemia, which basically means her immune system is weakened. So I have to be extra careful about knowing when I’m contagious, because if she’s exposed to my horrible virus, horrible things could happen, and it would be all my fault. This made it extra annoying when I was socked with a fever and accompanying grossness last month. I wasn’t able to babysit, like, at all.

But my irritation at feverish viruses is small potatoes compared to this: What is it like raising a kid that has a serious, long-term illness? I have no idea. It must be really, really stressful. It must be like getting knocked in the head. And what is it like making art or making a living while suffering a long-term illness? (I’m fortunate enough not to know, even if it makes me “less artistic.”) All I know is that when sniffly, my body would rather be in bed, reading and drinking my weight in honeyed chamomile tea, than doing almost anything else.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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