Thursday, February 04, 2016

Sick Day

I took my first sick day this week.
I just couldn't take it anymore- my head was pounding, I had a runny nose and congestion, and a sore throat. And so I asked the clinic to cancel my afternoon.
It was my first sick day in 14 months.
Strangely enough, there was no pride that it's been that long since I last called in sick.
Instead, I felt horrible for a few reasons.

For one, I felt an immense sense of guilt because I knew that would be pissing a long line of patients off. Patients who have waited 2-3 months to see me, especially the very-anxious new consults for a variety of issues they or their PCP felt was urgent and hormonal. And so, to cancel would mean rescheduling and waiting another few months. Who would not be miffed?

The second reason that I felt bad though, was just the sheer madness of the situation itself. I'm not proud that I have a 'clean' record of not taking time off for illness. Instead, I'm ashamed of it. I'm perplexed that we function in a world where either patients or doctors see it wrong, to be ill and to take time off for themselves. We see it unforgivable to make a patient reschedule- the very people who are often themselves on sick leaves to come see the doctor. And yet, for some stupid reason, we think so highly of ourselves that we think our immune system is s resistant to influenza, parainfluenza, rhinovirus, coronovirus, strep or whatever else germs are out there. Perhaps the M.D. degree hanging on my office wall had antimicrobial properties. But no; we are human too, and we do get sick. So why do we find it so difficult, why does the system make it so difficult, for us to acknowledge that, that often we go to work if we are ill, if we think it's mild and not too infectious?

Indeed, I posted something on my blog years ago- results of a survey asking if people preferred their sick doctor to still see them knowing that they might be infectious, or have their doctor reschedule the appointment and wait another few months to see them?

The results- most polled that they still preferred to see the sick doctor.