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April 28, 2013

Sick in America

Today’s blog started off as a posting for my “crunchy granola” blog when I realized I was about to step up onto a soap box, so perhaps it was best to transfer those thoughts there.

I’m sick. Have been all week, but yesterday it blossomed into a full blown fever with the cold medicine commercial symptoms. I keep telling myself it’s allergies, and it actually might be, but I am unwell no matter what the cause.

So I did something unprecedented and stayed in bed all day.

I didn’t want to. I had a set of things I needed to accomplish today. I had grading to do and job applications to fill out and cleaning, and well, you all know the weekend drill. And I only have one day weekends this term as I teach on Saturdays.

But I did myself a favor and listened to the voice of reason that does live in my head. Usually I ignore it, but this time, I realized it would be better to “sacrifice” today so that I can knock this thing out of me.

And today was the best day to “sacrifice” because I don’t teach today. I can’t miss a class! Not for mere illness.

Sometimes we need to rest, and that’s all there is to it. And that’s something that many Americans don’t do very well. We don’t “do” sick days or resting or vacation for that matter.

And this is where I realized that I was getting to the soapbox.  I do have one sick day a term when I teach. If I had to miss more, I’m sure I could, but I wouldn’t get paid for them. But I’m too frightened of getting the boot to dare to try.

Like many Americans, I work in an atmosphere of fear. If I get sick or need time, this might impact my employment.  And too many Americans are afraid to take the day off, so we go to work sick, spreading illness and annoying co-workers in one fell swoop.

Years ago, I remember reading an article in a women’s magazine: how to dress when you’re ill and have to work. Apparently wearing green offsets the red nose and eyes and makes us look healthier.  But why is this even information in my head?

Why is work so all important in this country? Why do so many people live in fear of taking a sick day?

This country is broken, and I’m wondering what needs to be done to fix it.

Obviously, I can’t fix it now. I’m in bed with a fever. And I’m taking a sick day.

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