When you are a child, sick days are advertised to you as these amazing days where your Mum dotes on you and feeds you ice cream while you watch lots of cartoons. As an adult I can tell you this is a lie. You sleep alot, lose track of time, and feel really crap.
I remember a grand total of two sick days up until the end of my compulsory school career. The first, in primary school, a daughter of my Mum’s colleague looked after me and I had some Harry Potter Lego (though I can’t remember if that was bought before I was ill or because I was ill). The second was in Y10 – I had a chest infection to the extent that I’d struggled up the stairs at school the day before. The school nurse had told me to take a day off. Mum told me that’s what school nurses were paid to say and that I should go in anyway, but in the end Mum was in London that day and Dad let me stay off. I largely slept.
Having a Mum who is a palliative medicine consultant (in english: end of life care doctor), means that you’re not really ill, ever (unless you’re dying). It wasn’t that Mum didn’t lead by example, I think I can only remember her missing work once, ever, prior to her cancer diagnosis. Even with a terminal diagnosis she wasn’t signed off sick until she slightly unfortunately ended up in a coma.
As a result, I am not well-practiced in the art of the sick day. I am not very good at it. I decide I’m not actually ill (whether I can breathe/human or not), and carry on with life regardless until others point out that actually breathing is a fairly essential part of human life and maybe it would be an idea to go home from work and go back to bed.
I’m so badly prepared for my immune system letting me down, that I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I could/couldn’t take alongside my normal medications (which resulted in me dragging myself to the chemist), I couldn’t quite stay 100% away from work (I should be there/it’s a work day/isn’t the internet an amazing thing…), and when I did finally succumb to needing some colf&flu, I almost cried over Mr Supermarket Man who told me that I didn’t look 25 and needed some ID (which I didn’t have on me).
I was also completely unprepared for quite how much being off work sick would cause my mental health to deteriorate. It’s not 100% at the best of times, but spending much of the day sleeping and feeling completely and utterly useless have caused it to slide, somewhat – hopefully it will pick back up once I’m back to work.
Not a day goes by when I don’t want my Mum (and rarely a day goes by at the moment when I don’t want to stamp and scream and shout that I want my Mum), but sick days certainly don’t make the wanting-Mum-stuff any easier. On the plus side, my inbox’s are clearer than ever, my pyjamas are comfy, and I’ve well and truly converted to the ‘tea life’ (something which I’m sure everyone at work will be really proud of me for…).