Called In Sick

I did yesterday what I rarely ever do. I called in sick. I was feeling like crap at work on Sunday, and knew Monday would be worse so I called in, and said I’m sorry, I’m sick.

I went years without missing a scheduled shift. It was a point of pride. My name is in the book, I’m working. Life is different now. I have a family and I’m past 50. I take days off. And now, when sick, I actually call in and say I can’t work.

Now before I praise myself too much, I am here on the job today working 16 hours and trying not to cough a lung out. I do feel much better. Yesterday was lay in bed motionless for hours, waiting for the fever to pass, then getting up staggering down the hall, watching an hour of TV, then staggering back to the bedroom, exhausted to lay again motionless for hours. Today, I was actually rested. The fever is gone and, baring relapse, all that remains and will likely remain for at least a month is my nasty cough, my annual winter companion. I have found that the tessoln pearles I discovered last winter actually do help contain the cough. So no more embarrassing displays of outcoughing my patients. (But after a call now, I do have to force myself to cough up the phlegm to help keep the lungs as clear as possible).

Getting sick sucks, but it does give you some insight into what it might feel like to be a real patient. If I feel like death, like I will never be well again, but I am well hydrated and my pulse is only 72, and my sat is 99%, and my fever barely a 100, what must it feel like to be really sick?

My annual cold reports

2009/10: Dueling Coughs

2008: Medicine For Paramedics

2007: Sick

2006: Hacking

2 Comments

  • michael says:

    I hate being sicker than my patients. Thankfully I seldom am. Happy Thanksgiving, Peter.

  • Jared Buys says:

    I hear ya. I hate being sick as well, but I found my self still going to work most of the time, but it’s not worth it. When you are sick you run a chance in treating a Pt that may have a compromised immune system and could cause them to get worse. We must take the sick time off, not just for us, but for the Pt as well.

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Peter Canning

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  • Comments
    Sandy
    The Ideal Medic
    As a 24 year medic, I finally figured out it wasn't me. Thank you for your article. You can't teach that in any classroom. I have always found that empathy is a great tool. Use it to benefit the patient and teach others what it is all about.
    2015-03-24 22:24:30
    Joseph Eriksen
    The Ideal Medic
    As a 30 year, now retired medic I completely agree. There is nothing wrong with second guessing although one should go with their gut. There are times to be aggressive and times to not. Also humor is one of the most powerful pre-hospital tools in the toolbox although it can't be taught. When appropriate it…
    2015-03-24 19:37:25
    Shawn McCormick
    The Ideal Medic
    I totally agree. To me those make great paramedics. I work as a Operation Supervisor and encourage teamwork/backup whenever the situation calls for it. I encourage feedback from a difficult call my crews responded to. 1) they have the chance to recall the events that took place and they may self evaluate the call. 2)…
    2015-03-24 17:14:14
    Sean Fitch
    The Ideal Medic
    Totally agree Peter, For too long I had the same interpretation and like you now, I would by far take your current description.
    2015-03-24 17:05:33
    tom combs - ER doc/author
    The Ideal Medic
    Twenty-five years as an ER doc in level one trauma centers has me in total agreement. I Interestingly what you say regarding paramedics also, in many ways, applies to ER docs. "Tries to learn from each call...puts the patient first." A great post. I salute to your wisdom!
    2015-03-24 17:04:06

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