Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I am so tired.

I am tired, so very tired, of being sick.

First the flu. Then, just as I thought my immune system would be somehow cranked and ready to deal with any kind of little buggy-wug, a cold. (And yes, as I said to the doctor yesterday, "I *know* the immune system's more specific than that, but I can dream, can't I?")

And the cold turned, as it so often/always does, into a sinus infection.

Which means I called in sick this morning. I really thought I'd be able to make it, but simply sitting upright is taxing. Which makes me feel like a complete wimp/sellout/let-down.

Please reassure me that working sick is not a good thing to do. Please tell me that if I show up drugged and uncomprehending, it's not good for my patients. Please remind me of all the times I worked during a short-staffed shift and how it turned out fine and dandy.

The worst thing, at this point, is not the coughing or the facial pain (though that sucks). It's the guilt for calling in. Working sick is such a normal part of being a nurse that your whole metric for illness changes: "Okay, well, I've only vomited once this morning, so if I eat crackers and Sprite all day I'll be fine." "I only have a fever of 100. That means I can go in." "I can't forget to pick up a mask."

Of course, it's other people working sick that got me into this situation...but I still feel guilty for not going in and helping out.

Funny thing is this: in the other jobs I've had, ones with horrible deadlines (getting 18,000 pounds of books out of a warehouse by Wednesday) or ones where I Was It (the only waitress in the diner), I didn't ever feel guilty if I were well and truly sick. And now that I'm well and truly sick--flourescent mucus, crushing head pain, not having slept in two nights--all I feel is guilt, guilt, guilt.

If I had my way, new nurses would be fitted with a third arm and a pair of eyes in the backs of their heads rather than this Ubiquitous Guilt Chip they apparently stuck into my neck when I graduated.


Anonymous said...

Nursing is different because of the crushing workload. It is a burden to have to pick up for someone else, and the thoughts of your co-workers are not kind, despite the fact that in other areas of life they may be quite decent. I am also a nurse, BTW. Don't let the Machine grind you too fine. Relax and heal. Today is someone else's problem, and they will figure it out.

Dr. Alice said...


Your patients can get it. Your co-workers can get it.

I am a big believer in the healing power of taking a day off work. (I learned this after working sick... it lingers for days if you try to do that.)