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Finding what’s sick* about my sick days

Kristin discusses her sick days for work.

I take extra vitamins, work with a personal trainer, try to laugh every day and socialize with friends (proven destressors!) and see my docs regularly. Don’t I deserve a cold and flu free season?

If I had a buck for every “sick day” I've taken recently I might be on my way to a nice vacation fund (sick day as defined by your employer; not the sick days we endure every single day as sufferers of arthritis….sometimes I think I can hear in the distance, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the sick days of our lives…” Ah, but I digress). Every year I can't help but keep track of my sick days as if it's a secret competition with the rest of the world--some way of proving to everyone that I am indeed living a healthy life despite chronic illness. Because I certainly don’t take sick days for excruciating chronic joint and muscle pain. Or for searing, makes my eyeballs feel like they’re being ripped out, stomach pains. And I don’t whine and go home early for a siesta when sleep attacks and fatigue hit, as they so often do. So, as soon as the calendar turns to January 1 each year my competition begins and I am racking up pride points with each week that passes sans sick days, especially in the treacherous winter months. And why shouldn’t I? I take extra vitamins, work with a personal trainer, try to laugh every day and socialize with friends (proven destressors!) and see my docs regularly. Don’t I deserve a cold and flu free season? Some just reward for all of my efforts? If I spend the rest of my life battling arthritis and my other illnesses, can I get a pass on the other crud my co-workers, friends and family have to face each year? I figure I can cut my sick days by 75% without these mundane and boring illnesses, because I, like you, tough it out day in and day out with the really rough stuff. Ahhhhhhh, but let's get real Kristin. Isn't it true that those piddly illnesses you frown upon--the sniffles, the cough, the congestion, the sinus headache--take on an alien life form in your body? Just a little bit of flu aches triggers a widespread fibromyalgia attack on steroids? A bit of congestion blocks your ears and wipes out your hearing? One cough turns into ten days of congestion with risk of chest pain, pleurisy and possible hospitalization? Dammit. Guilty. It turns out I need these sick days. Rather than defy them, I need to embrace them as a tool just like my vitamins and exercise. Without these sick days, I can’t restore my health. And the annual cold and flu season—amplified—can be considered another symptom on my list of oddities and hassles to contend with. If I learn to count on it and plan for it, the difficulty of ten to fourteen day colds might sting a little bit less. And in the meantime I can build my movie watching list….*sick: awesome, amazing

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