Nursing Ethics: About The Weather

What happens when the nurse who doesn't believe in calling in sick......calls in sick.
Come to think of it, I guess this could have been called "Bashed by Bronchitis", or "Flattened by the Flu", because elements of both illnesses have reared their ugly little heads during the past few days. It started out as a head cold and quickly evolved into fever, sore throat, body aches, and a cough that's turned my chest into raw hamburger; in short, I feel like I've been run over by a truck. While it's nothing like the pneumonia I had in February of 2010 (actually, there isn't much that IS like that, thank God), after spending this entire winter feeling like something the dog found under the house, I am, quite literally, sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I've long prided myself on my stellar immune system, which used to be strong enough to fight off the squirrels in the front yard. While everyone around me was dropping like flies, I soldiered on, taking care of the sick and the weakened, my invisible coat of armor protecting me from all invaders. I figured that I owed it all to being a nurse; after all, we get exposed to just about everything under the sun, and if it doesn't kill us, it makes us almost invincible.

Almost.

Which has made it increasingly difficult to stick to my policy of never calling in sick unless I can't get my head a) out of the toilet, or b) off the pillow. Today, I wasn't totally flat on my back, but the potential consequences of spreading my pestilence to the residents and staff at my ALF were too horrible to be contemplated......and if truth be told, I really didn't relish the prospect of having to exchange my warm, comfy sweats for chilly polyester and making that 40-mile commute.

Now, calling in sick---even when I'd have to get better to die---is harder for me than giving a speech in front of a roomful of people. I lay there in my recliner, cell phone in hand, rehearsing my excuse over and over again, feeling as guilty as if I were sneaking off to the beach instead of being genuinely ill. And when I finally scared up enough courage to hit the speed-dial button (it's "2" on my Favorites list) and talk to my boss, he........wasn't in yet. I wound up talking to the marketing director, who said something like "Oh, my gosh, I didn't even recognize your voice---you sound TERRIBLE!" and promised me she'd let him know that I wasn't coming in today.

Instantly, I felt even worse: what if she forgot to tell him? What if he thought I just didn't bother to show up, like the last nurse who worked in this building? This is my dream job, I don't want to lose it by being considered a no-show, maybe I should just pull myself together and go in anyway.........

Next thing I knew, it was two hours later. I probably would've slept even longer had I not begun coughing up what felt like part of a lung, and wheezing so audibly I could barely hear myself think. I wished for a dose of the wonderful cough syrup they gave me when I was so sick with the pneumonia last year. I wanted to reach down my throat and scratch until it bled. My tongue itched. My teeth were furry and disgusting. Even my husband didn't want to kiss me. My son, the CNA and newly-minted medication aide, suddenly appeared and loomed over me with his six-foot-one-inches, peering at me with a practiced eye: "Mom," he said cheerfully, "you look like crap."

"I love you too," I retorted. He was the one who'd caught this bug from his fiancee and promptly passed it along to his aunt, his dad, and now me.......and yet, he hadn't missed a day of work. So why did I feel so lousy then?

"That's because you're older and you're a diabetic," he pronounced, looking extraordinarily pleased at his expert assessment as he pecked me on the forehead. "You've just got to take better care of yourself, Mom. Gotta go to work now, see you later!"

I wanted to smack him for his impertinence, but I was moving too slowly to do more than swat at him as he sailed out the door. Smart-aleck kid.....he's got just enough medical knowledge to be a huge PITA. Can't imagine where he came by it. But when I dragged my sorry carcass into the bathroom and got a good look at myself in the mirror, I had to admit he'd been right about one thing: I did look like crap. More to the point, I looked like something the dog had not only found under the house, but tossed around the yard for awhile, buried, dug up again, and deposited on the living-room rug.

This evening, I'm feeling marginally better......still sneezing and wheezing and freezing, but now that the gunk in my lungs is breaking up and I've been able to eat some soup and toast, I think maybe I just. might. live.

Anybody know where I can get my hands on some Phenergan-with-codeine cough syrup??

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