Earlier this month, I found myself in a role that I don’t often play: patient. I don’t get sick very often. In fact, when I made an appointment at my doctor’s office, it had been more than two years since I was sick enough to actually go to see a doctor for illness.
My sickness turned out to a frustratingly nasty virus that kept me down for a few days and made me all kind of miserable, but there was no infection of any kind and no need for antibiotics.
But as I was driving home from my doctor’s office, I started thinking back on the past few days when I knew I was getting sick, and I realized that I most certainly do not always practice what I preach when it comes to taking care of my health.
On Day 1, I had chills and aches, and I had generally been feeling tired all day. So what did I do after work? Come home and rest? Nah, I went to an event that had been planned for many weeks and powered through, walking home that night with teeth chattering through shivers.
On Day 2, I woke up with almost no voice, head congestion, and a nasty cough. So I called in sick to work, right? Nope. I had a client meeting that day, so I downed some cold medicine and went to work and then to the meeting, where I exposed all my co-workers and the client to my germs.
It was only on Day 3, after sleeping less than two hours and feeling like I was swallowing broken glass, did I decide I should not go to work. And yet I still didn’t spend the day sleeping and getting better. I worked from home for two days, despite feeling awful, because I just started a new job and didn’t want to take time off.
I would never recommend doing what I did. And it got me wondering, why is it so hard to walk the walk?
A little research dug up a study from July 2015 that surveyed 500 physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, and certified nurse midwives and found that more than 83 percent of them admitted to going to work (where they treat patients!) at least once during the past year.
Okay, so I’m not alone (and hey, I don’t treat patients; I just write stuff for them!). The reasons: they did not want to let their colleagues down, there were not enough staffers to cover all the work, and they worried their colleagues would think less of them if they called in sick. Yes, yes, and yes. And yes, I KNOW those aren’t good enough reasons to push yourself when you’re sick and certainly not good reasons to expose others to your germs.
Call it cognitive dissonance, call it stubbornness, or call it denial, but whatever it is, this health communicator promises to do better next time. Here’s to a happy, healthy spring (if it ever gets here for most of the country!). And when you’re sick STAY HOME.