"Oh, man, I've got to lie down!" I heard myself say that and then had to laugh because I already was lying down and had been for a few days. I'd been hit with the flu on Wednesday, had tried to ride it out but had given up and gone to my doctor on Friday because incessant coughing was keeping me from sleeping and just tearing me up otherwise.
They have a cute test now to quickly test for flu; it involves sticking a small swab way up your nose. I mean WAY UP - it tickles terribly but it told her that I had Type A flu.. nothing much to do but codeine laced cough syrup to keep me quiet. She did tell me that I could opt for some expensive medicine that wouldn't be covered by insurance, might not work at all but could possibly get me back to work a day or two earlier. Sounds like something your boss would want you to take. I passed and took the codeine.
Oh, that codeine. People actually get addicted to this stuff. Why? It makes me stupid and a bit bitchy. I have no patience and no manners (yeah, OK, I'm not over stocked on those assets to begin with). I keep trying to go longer and longer between doses and to make the dose smaller - I want my brain back!
That orientation confusion took place on Sunday. Happily, very soon after that I began to feel better. It's now Monday and I''m actually up and shuffling around like a zombie. That may sound awful, but believe me: zombie is a big improvement.
Being sick and self employed has its good points. There's no suspicious boss pushing you to get back to work. You aren't going to lose any sick days from this and certainly don't have to give up vacation days. On the other hand, nobody is filling in for you and your customers can be almost as demanding as any boss. It can be particularly painful to have to turn down new customers when sick: not only have you lost immediate income, but you may have lost potential future income also.
There's another type of customer I hate to hear from when I'm sick. That's the one that almost never calls - years pass between the times you hear from them. I hate that because I feel guilty - this guy NEVER calls and now he has something really important and here I am huddled under the covers all doped up with codeine. Of course that's just what happened - a long time but very infrequent customer called on Friday in real need of help.
I WANTED to help but realistically there was not much I could do. Even if my brain were not hampered by the flu and the codeine, I couldn't talk for more than a minute without triggering a coughing spasm. Worse, he needed me on-site and I was having trouble walking to the kitchen. No, I had to turn him down.
So here it is Monday. I talked to that customer and told him I might be able to show up on Tuesday. That's probably pushing things a little; if I were smarter I'd stay quiet another day to be sure, but you know how that guilt stuff works. Be a man, dammit! Well, OK, a zombie is kind of like a man, right? I can do this..
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-20 Anthony Lawrence
The whole thing that makes a mathematicianâ€™s life worthwhile is that he gets the grudging admiration of three or four colleagues. (Donald Knuth)