The luxury of time

I’m sick. I’ve had a headcold (or an “upper respiratory infection” to those medically inclined) for four days now. These things usually take about a week to get over, so I’m trying to take it easy and just allow my body to heal. I haven’t had a cold this bad for a few years, but that’s OK. Because I actually feel lucky.

I have a great job with one of the top companies in the country, and when I’m sick it makes me even more aware of how much more fortunate I am compared to so many others. I have a good healthcare plan that is subsidized by my employer, so if I need to visit the doctor (I haven’t needed to do that yet) I can afford to do so.

At this time of year, there are all sorts of viruses and “bugs” being passed around. The media is full of ads for cold and flu remedies, and local pharmacies and grocery stores advertise the availability of flu shots. But this isn’t what people really need to get better when they’re sick. What they need is paid time off work to recover and to get the heck away from those who are still well.

I get paid time off when I’m sick, and I also get the option of telecommuting if I feel well enough to work. Not only that, my company has made it a priority to urge people to stay home if they don’t feel well. Being able to keep my germs to myself is a benefit that too many people don’t have.

And that’s the real way to combat the spread of flu and other nasties that are considered public health problems: make it possible for sick people to stay home.

While I’m ranting, I also want to point out that most of time when people are sick they do *not* have the flu. It’s one of my pet peeves that so many people say they “have the flu” when all they have is a standard cold or viral infection. The flu has very specific symptoms. If a person is not running a fever and does not have body aches and chills, then it’s not the flu.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a flu, and I know I don’t have the flu now. I have a viral infection that has affected mainly my sinuses. At this point it’s also starting to affect my throat and voice, but that will pass. Because I have time to heal. Such a small thing to have, but it makes a huge difference.