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Trisha Torrey

Is It Time to Call In Sick?

By January 5, 2013

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(This was first posted in December 2010 when the seasonal flu was hitting its stride... And here we are with major flu making the rounds again. Seems worth repeating... Should you call in sick?)

Back in the 1990s, I worked at our local community college among people of many personalities, some stranger than others. (Does this sound like your workplace?)

One woman was a major germaphobe (think Howie Mandel or Matt Lauer.) It was not unusual to see her wearing a face mask, surgeon-like, as she sat at her desk or roamed the halls. But the real kicker was this: each time she went to the ladies room, she would wash her hands, then re-use the paper towel she had just used to dry her hands as a shield from the door handle -- she would use it to open the door to exit the ladies room.

Compounding that particular idiosyncrasy was the fact that she would then just let the wet paper towel drop on the floor -- and she left it there. Never picked it up. If I went to the ladies room and found a wet paper towel on the floor at the door, I knew just who it came from.

Fast forward to today. I've learned enough about MRSA, the flu, and other common, but potentially deadly infectious diseases and I no longer think about Ms. Germaphobe the same way I did. It seems she might have been on to something, at least prevention-wise. I still think she could have at least taken that paper towel and filed it in the circular file under her desk.

All that said -- it actually raises another question -- how do we know when we are too sick to go to work or that our kids are too sick to go to school? How do we know when it's time to keep our kids, or ourselves, home - if not to prevent spreading infection to others, at least to take care of ourselves?

Some coworkers and students seem to be out sick all the time. They probably don't need to be absent so often. Others never seem to miss a day. They probably should stay home on occasion.

When is it time to call in sick?

Some of the answers may surprise you.

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Agree? Disagree?
Share your experience or join the conversation!

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Photo JeanellNorvell / iStockphoto.com

Comments
January 11, 2013 at 4:35 am
(1) gemdiamondintherough says:

Hello Torrey!
You are reviewing some things I have been saying to people the last several weeks. !!! But somehow in this day and age, people believe that they (?indispensible?) should go to work,school,shopping etc. no matter what.
I understand the other side of the coin, where you do not call in for any and every issue you may experience. But , why in the world are some schools closing due to illness. To separate people to diminish the possibility of spreading the disease!!!
Yes, to some extent I agree people may need to get their “flu” shot. But the flu shot does not cover every strain.
Is it not common sense, that if you are not feeling well and continue to maintain all your activities in some form or fashion, that now you are exposing more people!!! If you are really not sick, then go in to work,school, etc. But if you are sick, stay home and give your body a few days to recuperate and you will also prevent sharing some of your germs.
Many of us are pushing ourselves beyond our limits and this makes for an immune system that cannot as easily fend off disease. We need to do all things in balance. And if you are sick that means staying home, resting, drinking lots of water, etc. to hopefully shorten the length of the illness and not spread it around! Have I repeated the same thought often enough!?
P.S. – Know what temperature range is normal for you. That “magic” 101.5 or the like, may not be true for everyone. There are also instances when people are quite ill, when their temp will be subnormal or not elevated to the protocol. If you normally run in the high 96 or low 97 degree range, then a temp of 100 may be significant for YOU!

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