Working Sick

At least 50% of the people in my office are sick. In between the noise of phones ringing, printers running and TVs tuned to the all-news channels are the constant sounds of coughing, sneezing, sniffling and moaning.

I have been doing my best to not fall victim. I’ve been doubling up my vitamin intake, eating healthy, staying hydrated, wiping down my work surfaces with antibacterial wipes, trying not to touch common areas with my hands and, when I’ve had no choice in touching them, washing my hands frequently with soap and water or Purell hand sanitizer.

Still, when the very air you’re breathing is densely populated with all the nasty little buggers from people sneezing and coughing, your only viable defenses would be to wear a surgical mask, gloves and goggles or either just not come to work.

Not come to work. In most cases that would be the sensible answer and advice for people who are sick. Officially, we urge people who are sick to stay in the hotel rooms and get better, but realistically the fact is that most of us perform specialized tasks and duties. If we’re not here, the work doesn’t get done. And a lot of the time our work is deadline driven; if our work doesn’t get done in a timely fashion it negatively impacts someone else’s ability to get their work done in a timely fashion and so on and so forth. It can become a snowball of ever-growing problems. So, sick or not, if we can walk or sit upright in a chair for a sustained period of time, we show up for work.

Last night when I got off work and returned to my room, I finally felt myself succumbing to symptoms of an impending cold. My eyes were starting to feel like they were surrounded by grains of sand, my sinuses began simultaneously draining and feeling stuffed up, and a general malaise that I could not push off as just being tired was growing in my body. I immediately started taking some cold medicine, even going so far as to place a dose on my nightstand and setting my alarm to wake up at the 4-hour mark so I could take more in the middle of the night.

It may be working. I know I’m not feeling nearly as bad as most of my sick co-workers and my symptoms, while aggravating, do not seem to be as pronounced as the ones I have seen them display. Here’s hoping I’ve been able to hit it hard enough and early enough to reduce the extent of its effect on me.

UPDATE: The office Thanksgiving luncheon was tolerable. The absolute best part was that there was so much food left over that we donated it to a local women’s shelter to contribute to a better Thanksgiving Day celebration for them.

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