The mornings are feeling rather frigid now. Increasingly they are frosty too. Autumn is well underway and I know soon it’s going to start feeling like winter long before the season’s calendar changes. The colors of Autumn are just past their prime now and the once vibrant leaves are dry and drooping. There is still beauty to be seen as they flutter from the tres in a flurry on every breeze. I’m trying to find ways to love the fall.
I woke this morning still not feeling quite like myself, but I’m a little more me than I was yesterday. There are further COVID scares at work and a coworker commenting to me on the minor outbreak confided in me that while she hope she wasn’t infected because it would disrupt operations, she kind of hoped she was because she could use the time off.
This is what I was talking about yesterday. It’s sad we have to hope for sickness, for this particular sickness just so that we might have a little time to rest, to reflect, to recover from the overwhelm and uncertainty of these past couple of years. We’ve all joked about faking a positive result but the jokes are sounding more and more serious all the time.
To be honest, I am scared of the rising cases and I am frustrated by the lack of transparency. I’m outraged by the relaxed rules for the vaccinated. Yes, I know that the chances of severe disease and spread are low, but almost all of us got vaccinated over 6 months ago and that means our immune response is weakening. There are breakthrough cases and some of the staff, not to mention the children, are still at risk.
A coworker’s daughter died from a COVID infection. She was the same age as me. I suppose this is what is freaking me out. I know the chances are I would survive, but I don’t like taking the risk. I don’t like risking my loved ones’ lives either, and for what? No one can seem to come up with a good reason, but we keep going out and risking our lives and each other’s lives all the same.
The good news is, whatever I have, though it’s awful and nasty, at least isn’t Covid. My results came back yesterday evening and made it all that much easier to put my well-being second and come into work. It’s also the bad news too.
It felt good to take time away, to nurse myself, to heal in my own time. Being sick at work means pushing through, sucking it up, and prolonging it all. Part of me wishes it had been a mild Covid infection. Part of me knows it would have been easier that way. That got me thinking about how Covid—though tragic and terrifying—has no doubt been a good excuse for finally enforcing boundaries and putting ourselves first.
The shutdowns last year were the closest I could get to my ideal life. Even when I did return to the office lowered capacity meant half days and fewer coworkers in at once. The mask mandates and social distancing rules were what introverted dreams are made of. Even now Covid symptoms, exposures, and tests mean unquestioned time away from work.
It’s funny that sinus infections, the common cold, the flu, and many other communicable diseases are all held to such lower standards. It’s frustrating that I can protect others and care for myself if I have Covid but not if I have any other kind of sickness or infection that could present as much a risk to myself and the kids I serve. It doesn’t make sense that we haven’t been living like this all along!
The sad reason we haven’t is simply that we’ve gotten used to one kind of risk and not another. I would argue that all bouts with sickness should be held to the same standard. Ten days away from work in quarantine to rest away from people while we are contagious. I would say I should never have come in at all today and I would say some of the guilt is on me.
It’s on all of us who enforce such harmful norms and those of us who adhere.
The world should be different in this and so many more ways.
I’m home for the second day in a row with whatever head cold I’ve been unfortunate enough to contract. I felt awful when I woke up, but as the day wore on and I slipped in and out of sleep my symptoms slowly improved throughout the day—enough even for me to commit to heading into work tomorrow!
Of course, by now my symptoms are returning and I’m regretting all the assurances I made to my coworkers. More than regret I feel angry. Honestly, I want to be able to simply take the remainder of the week off to recover, without guilt, without all this pushing and prodding, without all the worry and shame.
If I’m really honest, I know deep down this anger isn’t really about just this week. It’s about having to work any day at all. It’s about the loss of my days, the loss of control, and the loss of my passion.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love my job. It’s easy, fulfilling, respectable, and sometimes even enjoyable, as far as jobs go. Over the years I have found some purpose in it and made the role critical to the long-term operation of my department. I’ve managed to muster enthusiasm for my day-to-day responsibilities but it’s never felt as satisfying as spending my days circling deeper subjects and following subtler leads around life.
I suppose that old dream of making something of myself, for myself, from myself is feeling a bit renewed. My day job allows me to make a difference but I want to leave a more personalized mark.
And when the time is right staying motivated and focused comes easy. Nothing has to be so forced. The right ideas, the right instincts, the right words come without having to be called forth. Time presents itself and space opens wide.
I went to bed last night with an awful sore throat and throughout the night declined until I found myself sleeping on the couch popping cough drops one after another in a desperate attempt to calm the irritation and get some sleep.
Today I am staying home sick and hoping it’s not Covid so I can head back to work tomorrow morning. Not because I want to, but because I don’t want to feel bad about being home.
I have serious doubts I’ll make it in though. For one, I have a complete loss of appetite and for two, my supervisor herself is out with Covid that began with the same symptoms I am presenting now.
Since I was off almost all of last week, there’s no chance I was exposed to her but I was out shopping and visiting with family all over town in close contact with maskless strangers. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if the test came back positive. I’ve been far too lax about protecting myself.
And this is why I believe in mask mandates. Of course in an ideal world, the choice would be our own. In an ideal world, we would all make the right choice too but the reality is it’s too hard for humans to change and too easy for them to change back. Our minds cannot fathom the risk and we certainly can’t hold on to alarm for long.
Even for those of us who believe in the effectiveness and support the measures forget. Even those of us for whom the measures are made to protect forget! Humans tend toward the convenient and the comfortable and without specific and frequent reminders we lose sight of what is right.
Still, I may not have Covid at all, but further still, my point stands. I know my immune system is both over-reactive at times, and ineffective too. I know I have to protect myself against all kinds of infection. I know that I have to protect others too. These past months I’ve done a poor job of both. It’s no wonder I’ve finally come down with something.
Every lesson must be learned—and relearned—the hard way.
Back on my bullshit, I was down bad
They was kickin’ me when I was on my ass
Now I’m back on my bullshit, every day, I grow
Meditatin’ on the bluff when I’m low
Said I’m back on my bullshit, dealin’ with the shame
Let it go and told the devil get away
Now I’m back on my bullshit, glad I made it home
I was low but you know I never fold, bitch, yeah