Quote of the Day, Love: Oscar Wilde

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Dangnabit Flu part II

You may recall a rant about a week ago discussing my fury and utter disgust with people who come to class, work, or just the public spots in general and then vigorously hack up all their various versions of the plague giving it to the rest of us. To bring a set of face masks or lysol wipes to class or work causes outrage and incredible offense. Apparently, I'm supposed to be flattered that a person would deign to share their precious virus with me. I'm not flattered, I'm dang sick and perturbed.
Because people in my program and other night courses are grown ups and pursuing time-sensitive degrees, missing one course is like missing four courses at a "normal" school. They are all dedicated students and most have a job and many have a family too.  As we all know, children are adorable germ an plague factories who innocently pass their contagions to their parents who then come to class much sicker than they should and voila! We're all sick. As parents, they are somewhat more immune to these germs. I am not. Now, I am not such a wimp that a mere flu or cold would keep me home from class especially during the crucial final weeks of the quarter.
Though I have an excellent doctor and I take my vitamins, umqua, and probiotics, I still get the dang flu and the worst version of it. I already had the upper resp.version and the stomach version. I got a sinus infection an ear infection, lots of throwing up, and vertigo. If it was just pain, I could get to class. I would be quieter and paler than usual, but still present. If it was just a matter of nausea, I'd take my various nausea meds and sprint out of the class when necessary. But, the pain is a good leve7 out of 10 (10 being the highest), the nausea is unrelenting despite trying three kinds of pills, a patch, tea, and candied ginger.  Showing up for class with eyes watering from pain , face a light shade of green, and stumbling around from vertigo is not an option. Add the long commute to the mix and you can see the problem. I just got a note from my adviser saying  that a she is concerned and thinks that if I get sick I may have troubles being a teacher at all. Ok ,just to state this for the record. Being absent twice  in four months is not that much. However, when I am in a class with (very nice, smart, and hardworking) people who have a freakishly awesome capacity to either not get the flu or to get a shorter non-throwing up version of it, I can understand how I would stand out. I was actually kind of glad when a few people stayed home sick; not because I wished them ill, but because it proved that they were humans!  Good news though, I have configured a method by which I will be in class no matter what. And, I declare now that if I see people with the damn flu and they do not cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, I shall politely (and repeatedly if necessary,) say bless you and cover your bleepity bleep mouth (the bleeps will contain more PG-13 esque words) or I'll mercilessly pummel you about  the head with this sock full of oranges I just happened to bring with  me. It is a difficult situation because missing one day of class is like missing a week of class in a situation where classes go five days a week. Therefore, any absence is magnified 5x. ,
Here's the deal. I still have some pretty awful headaches from time to time. About 98% of the time, various medicines for pain and nausea keep the problem under control enough that I can come to class and work. However, if something exacerbates the headaches and nausea such as, hmm, a goshdanged flu bug that turns into a sinus or ear infection or both, you can see how my headaches would be much worse.
Because I had to deal with chronic intense pain and illness during my 20s and the first half of my 30s, I gained empathy, understanding, and patience when I find out that someone is suffering. Unless they prove my initial idea wrong, I assume they are hurting as much as they report, and if someone is sick, I assume they are miserable. Just because someone else could still function with these maladies does not make them any easier.
So my call for action goes as follows: Give people in pain and who are sick a break.  Do not assume that their absence from work or school is a prime example of their laziness and lack of dedication to the school or workplace. I can't speak for everyone else, but I can honestly say that I would much rather be in a classroom learning from gifted professors and with a super bright cohort, (heck, I'd even rather be driving down Brwoadway in Everett,) than lying here seeing starts, head throbbing with thousands of searing hot needles being inserted into my eyes and the world spining around me to conclude in throwing up. Also in the mix, I still have a fevor from the first round of this nonsense.
Currently, my head feels like the coyote's head in the cartoon above but with searing needles punching through me eyes.. and I feela bout the same color green as this background with the facial expression to match.
It is difficult for people to understand or sympathize with people who have ailments or injuries that are not readily apparent. For example, a broken leg is easily visible and you know that in time it will heal; that person will be free from the issues of the break in time.  Someone with a cold sneezes quite a bit and we understand that in a few days this will go away. People with chronic pain that is made worse by things like the flu are not quite so easy to read. Maybe it is the modern fear of butting in and maybe it is just plain fear. The idea of pain that does not exist to warn us as in the case of a burn or to show us to be careful as things heal as in the case of a bad cut or obvious coughing. Instead we have to take the other person's word on the issue and  living in a suspicious and cynical world means that often we find it easier to declare these sick people to be morally inferior or just not trying hard enough.
1. Try to put yourself in the other person's place before judging him-her.
2. Work on empathy and understanding. If you can't figure out how or why a headache could be bad enough to merit staying home and/or taking medicine, look it up on the internet or politely ask the person who's illness that you just don't understand what is going on. If you ask me, I won't be offended and I will always tell you the truth.
3. It is always better to err on the side of sympathy or empathy than on the side of suspicion and judgment. The truth is that most people are decent and want to work hard. The majority of people are not into pity parties, trying to get attention, or playing the martyr complete with sighs regarding their illness. Give  your fellow beings a break. The odds of you being treated well increase dramatically once you understand this simple concept.
Be healthy all, I'm going to suck on some ginger candy and go to bead then work on my coursework as soon as my eyes focus in again. My new plan means that I will come to class unless I am unconscious AND hooked up to machines. I'll be there with a cast, a bandage, a bucket, or whatever is necessary because now I have to prove a point.. Because now, it's on and if I am challenged and get ticked off, it is wise to not get in the way of my goal because when i start to feel contrary, nothing can stop me short of acts of God or nature. And really, I think I can probably figure out a way around those too. I will be in class unless I have an immediate physical emergency that requires immediate treatment such as a heart attack, internal bleeding, compound fracture, more than ten stitches etc. As soon as that emergency treatment has been administered and I am conscious, I'll be there darn it! . I may not look to glamorous, but looking good wasn't part of the challenge. Let it be known that when I was at the UW, I went to class only minutes after taking a flying flop onto cement resulting  in  a badly sprained ankle, a bruised hipbone, bloody knees. elbows and hands and I showed up. Yes, my paper I handed in had a bloody handprint on it and yes my jeans had rips where my bloody knees showed though, but damn it, I was there. I've showed up to class high fevers, throwing up (signaled by my frequent sprints to the ladies room), and much more. I am resilient and tougher than the average bear but even I have my limits.  It is not a sign of weak character or lack of dedication so please know that if I'm not there, it is for a good reason. Now forgive me, I see birds chirping and circling around my head and feel the world wobbling about. 
Take care, don't be shy using the kleenex and soap
. Stay healthy and positive everyone.


Crystalyn Galang said...

Katie, I am sorry that you are not feeling well (again). It seems that you have had the worst cases of catching the flu and I think it is more than your title claims. I was not present when you were passing out face masks in class and I don't know that I would have been offended given the many times you have had to suffer from catching someone else's child's, wife's, co-worker's, cohort member's germs. I want you to know that I lean on the side of empathy. And, I cannot speak for everyone else, but I do not regard your absence as "laziness and lack of dedication to school," as your work shows that you clearly do what is asked and even more at times from assignments you have imaginatively made up in your head. I do wish you well and I hope to see you on Tuesday for your presentation and Wednesday for Chris' class. She mentioned even going out afterward for dinner which would be nice.

P.S. Do you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm? You remind me of Larry David in Season 4 when he wouldn't shake Ben Stiller's hand after he sneezed in it. If you haven't seen it, it is a must.

Katie said...

I loved that episode. Thanks for taking the time to post such a kind comment Crystalyn.I wasn't implying that I thought our excellent classmates were judging me. It was more of an issue of some higher ups who mean well I but you know the old adage about the road to hell and good intentions.
I will be there even if I'm on a gurney (I'm not that sick). Your comments crack me up! Thanks again for being a thoroughly decent human being.

Sunny June said...

Thanks for sharing the story! I am sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time being ill. Last Wednesday, I experienced the similar thing, or maybe the milder version one. Due to food poison (or so I assumed) I threw up and went to poop instantly for 45 minutes in the morning. That day was crazy! I had an appointment with my therapist, work in the research lab for 2 hours, and study for finals the next day with classmates.. I wouldnt be able to skip that damn day cos otherwise my schedule would be really messed up. So I skipped the first lecture (and I RARELY miss one, only two or 3 in my whole 3 year academic life as an undergrad; yes I didnt miss any during pregnancy!) and came in with a pale face and dehydrated body!.. I guess my point is I totally agree that nothing can get stop you from achieving what you want in your life, and it is essential that people should not judge you on those face values of temporary sufferings. Just thought I should share this briefly! Take care! It's good to know that theres someone whos fighting against the world just like I am!