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Remember the good ol' sick days?

OPINION

August 07, 2012|By Matt Lindner, For RedEye

Adulthood has ruined many of the things that brought me great joy as a child.

Birthdays are now reminders I'm getting old. The Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are now creepy guys in costumes. And that's not the worst of it.

The one joy adulthood completely and totally obliterates is the sick day. For adults, sick days are worse than paying your student loans, missing your bus and making last weekend's regrettable walk of shame all rolled into one.

This epiphany hit me recently as I recovered from a nasty infection that kept me out of the office for six days. I had what amounted to a golden ticket from Willy Wonka in the form of a note from my doctor telling my bosses that I wasn't fit to work for a full week.

As a kid, this note would have been enough for me to jump for joy on the inside (while of course maintaining a facade of illness on the outside). Yet as I lay alone in my apartment, my leg elevated and wrapped in a heating pad, all I could do was make a mental checklist of the things I'd need to catch up on once I got back.

Growing up, sick days were on par with pizza parties and field trips to the zoo in terms of things you looked forward to. A sick day meant the three C's – cartoons, cookies and the occasional cuddle from Mom to help make you feel better. You didn't have to worry about food or taking care of yourself because someone else was there to do it for you. Missing a day or two of schoolwork wasn't a big deal.

No such luck as an adult.

Forget all the TLC you got when you were a kid. As an adult, you're on your own to make sure you're medicated, fed and at your doctor's appointment—even when the CTA is running 20 minutes behind and you feel like death.

There's also the inherent dread of the doctor's bill and the creative accounting you do in your head to determine if you can afford your rent and your prescription that particular month. The only personal contact you have with another human being is when the delivery guy arrives with dinner because you're not gonna cook when you're sick.

Then there's the issue of your job, because in the real world, missing work means consequences. No matter how many times your boss tells you to rest up and feel better, you still feel the need to keep up with the rat race. There are voicemails to check and emails to respond to. You feel like garbage, but you do it because you're going to be even further behind when you return if you don't. It's a far cry from the sick days we enjoyed as kids.

Gone are the cartoons (unless you count "Maury"), the cookies and the bowls of chicken soup delivered by Mom. Instead, it's just a vast abyss of sickness, stress and anxiety.

It's enough to make you stock up on citrus, multivitamins and Benadryl while draping your extremities in bubble wrap to ensure your body stays healthy and your sanity remains intact. Doctor's orders, of course.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor. @mattlindner

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