At work

Today’s Dance: Powering Through Sick Days

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I’m going to work today. I repeat that to myself three times, take a shower (I inexplicably fall over in the shower, right myself, and keep going), get dressed in clothes acceptable to my employers, run a comb through my damp hair, and convince myself. I don’t feel like going to work. I still feel stuffy headed, I still have a sore throat, my energy is still low, and I still have aches in every muscle in my body. And I’m going to work today.

This is true in part because my pay structure makes it difficult for me to miss work. This would be even more true if I were self employed. This might be less true in a country where paid sick days were mandatory.

This is also true, though, because I worry about my therapy participants when I don’t come in. Despite knowing better, I have a slight case of ‘indispensable-itis’ and worry that they will go into crisis if I call in.

Further, this is true because I have a strong work ethic, partly inborn, partly a product of the society I live in, that makes me feel bad if I make the choice to stay home when I am still capable of ambulation, even if there is some question of being contagious, or unsafe to drive, or simply too ill to be effective.

And I’m not the only one. All over the world, people are doing the same thing I am, getting up, showering, getting dressed, and going to jobs when for one reason or another, they ‘aren’t feeling it’.

Today’s dance explores this phenomenon of ‘powering through’ to work or fulfill obligations when we are ill or otherwise disinclined:

  • Where is the line for you? When do you ‘definitely’ stay home?
  • Are there factors other than illness that affect your ability to work when ill? If you like or dislike your job or boss, for instance?
  • What about depression? Do you usually ‘power through’ a depressive episode, or stay home?
  • When you see co-workers powering through and working through a mild illness, are you impressed or irritated? Why?
  • How does your job’s pay structure impact your decision to power through illness? Workplace attitude about sick days?
  • Do you find that (usually) powering through results in a day when you get progressively healthier, or do you end up exhausted and curled up in bed the minute you get home?
  • Are there other situations you find yourself ‘powering through’ that are unique to your situation? A bad boss? A difficult project? An unhappy customer? How is this different or the same?
  • If (here in the United States) we had paid sick days mandated for all full and part time employees, would you stay home more when contagious? How would that change public health overall?
  • Do you have any other thoughts on the phenomenon of ‘powering through’ and working even when one doesn’t want to or possibly shouldn’t?

As always feel free to comment below or simply think about these questions as you go through your day. Share the conversation with those in your life through the nifty buttons at the bottom of the post. And I’ll see you tomorrow, when I’ve ‘powered through’ to another day.

  • The Time for Earned Sick Leave is Now (blueoregon.com)
  • Only in America: Flu outbreak fuels sick leave debate (washingtonpolicywatch.org)
  • Flu Outbreak: Why Paid Sick Days Matter (ideas.time.com)
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