Cold Warrior

“it’s going around” they say, “everyone is getting sick”.  I may try to ignore the signs, yet I can’t help but notice my voice is slowly turning into mere croaking, my sinuses are clogging up, and I’m cold. All the time.  It’s not uncommon to get a cold at this time of year; the seasons are changing, and the stress busting days of summer are too far behind us to lend any enthusiasm to working life. Yet all my fellow cold sufferers seem to be pushing through their days: a little grumpier, and often interrupting important conversations with a hacking cough- but overall seem not so badly affected.

How I looked when I woke up this morning

How I looked when I woke up this morning

On Fridays (TGIF, am I right?) I only work from home, yet even crawling into my bed with my laptop to respond to some emails seemed like an exhausting thing to do. Instead I opted to put on some new episodes of Breaking Bad (and by new I mean Season 2 because I am very behind- no spoilers please!) while stuffing my face with soup, fruit, crackers, and tea. By noon my cough was beginning to break and my nose was running heavily. I could feel success beginning to trickle in – I’ll be back to my normal self in a few days.

I know a cold isn’t supposed to be a big deal.  I know I’m meant to be able to go to work or school and take some cold medication or Advil if I need it to get through the day. But do I really want to just get through the day? I understand the necessity on certain occasions, but more often than not doesn’t it just turn into getting through the week…month…year- this event, or that course- until eventually, I’m just getting through my life. I know our jobs are meant to be these all important entities, holding dire consequences if a project gets finished a couple days late. Yet more often than not those dire consequences are just someone else being a little bit grumpy that it’s a day or two late.

What’s the worst that could happen? Can’t I just take a few days off. CFS has forced me to listen to my body, even when I felt like my body wasn’t listening to me. We somehow learned to have conversations, and eventually become friends and allies. If I am willing to nourish my symptoms of CFS, shouldn’t I be willing to do the same for any ailment- including a cold?

Photo Credit: colorblindPICASO via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: colorblindPICASO via Compfight cc

I’m sure I could just ‘get through’ this or that if I needed to. But wouldn’t I rather rest and be with myself- and my television and my books for a couple days, and then really give my best energy to my work. I’ll enjoy it more, my work will be of higher quality, I’ll be more excited to learn and move on to something new- and yet the message I’m often sent is taking those couple days is unacceptable- it makes you weak. Yet, when I hold those two images side by side in my mind; one taking cold syrup every few hours, and sitting at her computer with a pile of Kleenex and sleep deprived eyes, and the other, a well rested and energetic woman, a couple days behind on her work but facing it with enthusiasm and bright eyes- it’s no mystery to me which one is strong.

What about you? How do you deal with a cold on top of your CFS symptoms? Would you take the day off?


The Chronically Ill’s Prayer for a Job

Based on ‘A Mothers Prayer for Her Daughter‘ by Tina Fey

First Lord; nothing too stressful, may neither the words ‘fast paced’ nor ‘competitive environment’ grace the sentences of the job description.

May I be respected, but not valued, for it is the value that brings the extra hours every Friday evening, not the respect.

When an extra project is proposed, may I remember the time I spent a month in bed after finishing a term paper, and have the grace to say ‘no’.

Guide me, protect me, when negotiating hours, with sick leave, when requesting holiday pay and overtime, when asking to work from home, when working from home, when working in the office, when sitting through meetings, when completing a project, when undergoing stress, when being asked if I’ve ‘got a moment’ or if I could ‘help out with a task’, or having a tight deadline for anything , ever.

Lead me away from hospitality but not so far as tech. Something where I can have flexible hours , and don’t have to interact with people too often, but still where I can make friends and get outside every now and then. Something that is challenging and stimulating but not too stressful. What is this Lord? Please tell me so I may apply. Please do not tell anyone else that asks.

O Lord, break the email server forever, so that I may be spared the rejection letters that come in, the stupid questions from clients, and the weird chain emails from co-workers.

And when one day, my boss gives me a performance review, and says I am doing well and asks if I can take on some duties of the position that was just terminated, give me the strength, Lord, to pass it on to a different colleague, because I will not have that shit, I will not have it.

And if one day lord, I feel , like my book is ready for publication and I am ready to quit my job, let them replace me with someone more energetic who Is willing to work more than 48 hours per week. And as she sits at my old desk until 7pm on a Friday evening excited about this ‘great opportunity’, may she wonder how her predecessor ever made it through the job in so few hours a week, and may she see the corners I cut and the projects I passed off to others, and let her make a note to call and ask me about it. May she forget to call Lord, may she forget.