I’ll go ahead and admit it. When I felt that first suggestion of a sniffle, I didn’t grieve it the way I normally would.
It began in the days leading up to my scheduled week off work. Don and I had mapped out a productive stay-cation. We had ceilings and a bedroom to paint, trim to replace, a yard ankle-deep in pine needles and leaves. And if the weather was nice, a few trails to hike.
So the timing for being a little under the weather wasn’t horrific. It might force us to be horizontal for a day or two, relaxing instead of working.
We’re now on the other side of that week. Ceilings unpainted. Trim, not replaced. Yard now knee-deep in pine needles and leaves.
If coughing toned the abdominal muscles the way it feels like it does, we’d both be sporting six-pack abs right now. Instead, we’ve eaten more ramen than most college freshmen. Gone through more Popsicles than a hospital’s tonsillectomy ward.
This has been an ugly illness. There were none of the ladylike “choo-choo” sneezes I naively envisioned I’d emit on the front side of the cold. Instead, this particular bug prompted such extreme amplification of coughs and sneezes that our poor dog has been reacting as if someone is setting off fireworks right here in the house. He remains a bit twitchy even now.
On the front side of this flu, Don commented that my eyes appeared a little watery, as though I were contemplating a cry. On the other side of the sickness, they’re red-rimmed, dark-circled and frightening. Like something shown in a clip that would be introduced by Elvira.
It’s not hard to say where I picked up the bug. The preceding weeks in my office often sounded like rehearsal for a chorus of coughing. We have an open-concept office space, with very few walls. A collaborative workspace for germs, populated by a driven young staff, bent on proving their capability for powering through high fevers.
The only numbers they were hitting were of those they infected. But records were broken.
Allow me a moment to prepare certificates of recognition. Which I will surely do without a hint of resentment.
I’m considering preparing a chart for what constitutes being viewed as heroic at work.
For instance, coming in to work after having an organ removed is heroic. Coming in with tissues stuffed into your nostrils to thwart the dripping is not.
Returning to the office after having produced a human is heroic. Returning while still in the throes of hacking up lung-matter is not.
Anything involving a temperature, tissues, pink eyes or use of a bucket will never, ever be viewed as heroic.
Maybe there should be a sick leave policy where those who knowingly come to work sick and infect healthy co-workers are charged for the sick days of those they infect.
At the start of the week, I thought a few days stuck in bed might be nice, yet now I feel a bit cheated.
Until I remember all the cozy moments being “stuck” on the couch, watching old movies with Don. Fevered heads sharing a pillow and a box of tissues, as we waited for take-out to arrive at our door.