Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Thought for the Day: Poorly

Today, my head has a dull ache and my tummy is complaining more than the men in my household, a considerable feat.  I'm sure this might be self inflicted because of too much meaty rich food and wine in France.   True, I am trying to get together the materials to make two lovely bath mats which require 350 real corks but that's no excuse.  And there's always that sneaking suspicion that excessive baguette consumption might play a part too seeing that Mama Lovelygrey is a coeliac and, as such, completely intolerant of wheat.

But in spite of times when I have been severely uncomfortable I've still gone to work. There seems to be two schools of thought on this one.  There's the 'if you're ill you're ill' camp who advocate taking leave for all but the most minor ailments and the 'struggle on regardless' crew who have to have limbs dropping off  and be trailing a drip before they'd contemplate a day off.

As I've got older I've increasingly steered towards the latter point of view, hence my decision to turn up today. My altruistic self stresses  things like responsibility and being dependable whilst the self seeking part of my nature thinks about the tedium of catching up and  effect of taking unplanned time off on future workload.  All seem valid concerns to me.  And I might not have been effective as when I'm feeling chipper but still achieved a fair amount, probably with no adverse consequences for my future health or length of recovery time - I'll let you know if I am wrong if I'm still able!

Interestingly I've read that our reactions to our children's illnesses when they are young affect their attitudes to how they respond to unpleasant symptoms throughout their adult life.   If we cosset them everytime they say they're feeling poorly sickness behaviour is reinforced.   The sneaky little beggars also take note of what parents do when they feel unwell and learn from that too (see this abstract for an example)!

So my musing for the day leads me to conclude that serious symptoms shouldn't be shrugged off  and need to be investigated within the appropriate time frame.  So it's worth knowing about, for example, the symptoms of meningitis or stroke, where fast action is essential.  Spreading infection around is also a consideration especilally, if like me, you work with people who are more adversely affected by bugs that our normal superhuman immune systems can shake off.   But it's also helpful to reflect on our behaviour when we've contracted minor 'lurgies' and seeing whether our reaction is overstated.  If it is, it might be a wake up call to think about why there's a need to avoid work. It's certainly a question that employers are asking more and more in these hard times.

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