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.