When I was a teacher, I had an allotment of 10 sick days and 10 vacation days per year.  That was a lot, given that I also had two and a half months of flexible work from home time called “summer” built into that schedule.  I took one sick day my second year of teaching when I woke up with a fever and then while I was in the bathroom taking my temperature, I threw up three times.  Calling in sick seemed like the prudent thing to do.  But except for that time, I didn’t call in sick, ever.  If I had called in every time I had a sore throat, or minor body aches, or a screaming headache, I would have been out sick for most of my first year of teaching, when I caught every strain of pestilence that my precious little 5th grade disease incubators brought into the classroom.

Never took a sick day, that is, except for the one time I played hooky.  I had been close to the edge of a breakdown for weeks, feeling overwhelmed and ineffective and depressed, and it was two weeks before Christmas and I hadn’t done any Christmas shopping yet and I decided to call in for one day, planned well in advance, to take a day to sleep in, shop for Christmas presents, and eat peanut butter off a spoon while watching daytime tv in my pajamas.  A personal day, if you will.

On the appointed day, of course, I woke up with a raging fever and a complete inability to get out of bed.  “Typical,” I thought.  “God is punishing me for fibbing about a sick day.  Typical.”

I know that all of the magazines implore us to actually stay home when we’re sick, because our coworkers would really rather pick up our slack for a day or two than be subjected to the flu themselves.  I also know that I have a really hard time convincing myself that I’m “sick enough” to “deserve” a day off.

So this morning, when I woke up feeling like I’d been run over, and John said “call in,” I hemmed and hawed, because I really just felt worn out, not acutely ill, and who calls in just because she’s tired?  But then I thought “what the heck, I have a dozen sick days that don’t roll over and I’m never going to use them all.  Plus I have no meetings or appointments today that it would be a problem to miss, and I have a HUGE meeting tomorrow where I’ll really need to bring my A game so I should probably rest up.  Might as well.” I called in, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

What happened next?  I promptly developed an unidentified tummy ailment. OF COURSE.

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