I'm stuck home with the flu right now and I’m the worst sick person. Not that I whine or complain. No, I am the opposite. I do not allow myself to rest. I keep going and pushing through until my body physically says no, and I can barely get up to get to the bathroom.
In fact, as I lay in bed, I get caught up in all the voices in my head telling me about all the things I should be doing, or could be doing since I am at home and not at work. I even surround myself with my laptop, my phone and all the things I think I should be reading!
Me - the Preacher of Self-Care.
“Stop!” I say! “Rest!” I say!
The truth is I have such a hard time doing it for myself.
I can’t stand doing nothing. This go-go-go person has a hard time being still. It feels oddly uncomfortable, which is so ironic given that I dream about the time when I don’t have to get out of bed to go work - those golden days of retirement! I find being idle frustrating. Well, at least the gremlins in my mind find it frustrating.
But truthfully, I am not being idle at all. This Flu virus – H3N2 - is spreading through me like wildfire and my internal army – the troops of my immune system - are attacking it full on. My body is at war and I can feel the resulting inflammation! I feel it in the back of my throat, my head, my chest, my muscles and my joints. My body is vibrating with the pulsations of battle and I can feel the remnants of the war. Muscle aches like I have never felt before. Well, at least not since H1N1 (which I unfortunately caught before the vaccine was available).
I know how important it is to save my energy and channel it towards my body’s defence system. This war time conservation effort is so very necessary to restore my health. I must lay low during this battle. Otherwise, further injury will ensue.
In fact, if one of my patients came in with the similar symptoms, I would tell them to stay off work take at least a week off – 10 days or 2 weeks if they are not better. Stay in bed! Drink fluids! Clear Broth! Stay warm! WASH YOUR HANDS!
So why is it so hard for me to except the same words? To cancel my clinic? Why is it so hard to stop and give myself permission to do nothing? That same permission that I give to everyone who walks into my office with the flu? Why is it so hard for me to take that same advice?
Oh! There are pangs of guilt! Who will be there for the patients? Who will do the work? What will others think? They work hard! I must be weak! The internal gremlins that live in my mind, THEY say these things…
Then there are those thoughts that many of us self-employed people have – taking time off without pay, and with ongoing expenses. I catch myself here. Truthfully, I am going to be ok and I am grateful for that. There are many other people, who work in the service industry at a minimum wage. They are constantly being exposed to all that ills society. They truly struggle to make ends meet when they must take a day off. These are the people for whom we must care. I am grateful and incredibly privileged to be able to take time off and not have to worry as they do.
I will surrender in my mind. I will heed the battle call, and give myself permission to lay low, suck on some cough drops, drink some soup and sweat it out. I am not going to waste my energy on those thoughts that drag me away from what my body needs most right now. I am going to write myself the same sick note l write for so many others. I recognize the power of that. When the doctor looks you in the eye and says “You’re sick! You should stay home!” You cannot argue back. We even write it on a piece of paper and hand it to you. Then you take that to your employer and say “Look! The Doctor told me I had to stay home. I’m sick.” No one argues.
All you people out there with the flu, I give you all permission to stay home too! Go straight to bed, wrap yourself in blankets and stay warm. Sweat it out and stay hydrated! Order in to feed your family if you must. When you feel a bit better, then you can go lay on your couch. Seek medical attention if you need it. I know you give me permission to do the same. In fact, I know that is what you want all doctors, nurses and care providers to do. No one wants to be seen by someone who is sicker than they are.
As for all you Employers, be kind to your workers. They do not need a Sick Note if they have the Flu. Believe them. It is rampant right now. Save our Health Care Providers' time for those who are really suffering with the serious complications of this potentially deadly virus. It is serious. People are ending up in hospital!
When I am better, I will help some other doctor who is down for the count, so they will not have to worry like I did, and without making them feel guilty. Because that is just what you do.
Here is a list of common Influenza Symptoms:
Sudden onset of High Fever, Chills, Cough and Muscle Aches
Other symptoms include:
Loss of Appetite
Nausea, Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children.
The Flu feels more intense than your typical viral cold.
This year’s Flu shot seems to be providing about 10-20% coverage for Influenza A, and is supposed to have better coverage for Influenza B, which also making the rounds.
The information in this post is provided with the understanding that the author Shailla Vaidya MD is not engaged in rendering medical service or advice through this blog post or website. Information in text files, messages or articles on this site cannot replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.