Last week was rough. Many deadlines, many ball games and practices for kids, and I was sick. How many employers say “don’t come to work if you are sick!” I work in the healthcare industry so of course they don’t want sick people around patients. I am in a completely separate office building doing all of my fancy number crunching. With my deadlines looming it didn’t even dawn on me to call in sick. I did recuse myself from one baseball game – and in doing so, felt very guilty. As the week went on I ignored my symptoms for the most part. In fact, my husband said he thought I was feeling better since I had not mentioned a sore throat in a couple of days. Until Friday…I could barely swallow. If you read my previous blog post I had several major deadlines due last Thursday and Friday. Once I got home after running kids to activities and doing laundry (for weekend soccer tournament) I just collapsed.
Saturday morning first thing went into urgent care. Barely able to speak, swallow, and unable to sleep the previous night, I thought it would be best to get my throat checked out. I was one of those cases where the doctor said if I came in a week ago he would have told me to wait a week to get checked out. But, given my symptoms and length of time, and the fact that I have traveled recently, he kindly gave me some medicine to heal me. Good times. Went home after filling the scripts, took them, and went promptly back to sleep. I did this knowing I had 5 soccer games in 2 days and potentially more work to do from home related to items submitted for the Friday deadlines.
So what should happen when you are sick? Did I wait too long? Apparently not, since the doctor himself said he would have told me to come back with my initial symptoms. If I had called in sick…my deadlines would still have been there, no one to do my work – or is that what we tell ourselves? Is there really no one single person who knows my job? What if I exposed my co-workers to a nasty infection? I can tell you not being able to swallow is not fun! Should you be allowed to work from home? Lots of questions…who has the best answer? In finance, I’ve always worked in a structured environment that expects employees to have a set schedule. It does not need to be the same as their boss, but one that can be relied upon if someone needs you. As a professional, I have a laptop and a cellphone qualifying me to be available upon demand. I hold myself to extremely high standards and have the bar set for my own expectations pretty high.
As a new employee (only 7 months on this job), my PTO accrual is pretty low – also given I just took a vacation. PTO is a whole different subject, but in my case this week, it played a part in toughing it out and getting things done. I have seen people mis-use sick time, I have seen people never take PTO time, I have seen both ends of the spectrum. Being a wife and mom of a young family, I need all the PTO I have – usually for 1 vacation and then sick days for my kids. My husband and I split the time off we take for sick kids, but it adds up in a bad year. Unfortunately, I can’t tap his sick time bank when I am sick. I have to use PTO, tough it out, and/or be patient zero in my office for illness. What should it be?