• A letter to myself

    blowing my nose

    Image by Gus Greeper via Flickr

    Dear Body,

    Why do you hate me so?

    I am eating better, exercising more, sleeping more and less stressed than quite possibly any other time in the last ten years. Yet this is what, the fourth? fifth? time that you have succumbed to some kind of cold/flu bug this year alone. A new record.

    You want to remind me when the seasons are changing? Your friends, the sinuses do just fine a job of that.

    Thanks to you, five days of sick leave a year just isn’t cutting it. Everytime I feel that heat in my throat, that ache in my limbs, that fuzz in my head, my heart sinks. BF tells me to man up and power through it. I always do. I go to work and soldier on. Until inevitably a couple of days later I give up and take to bed.

    If I’m lucky, you’ll strike on my ‘weekend’ and I don’t have to sacrifice precious leave. Just a clean house and general sanity. Sickness wreaks havoc on the budget; meds aren’t cheap, you don’t want to / can’t cook, and there’s nothing in the house to make soup or other comfort foods with anyway.

    You’re a weak, yellow-bellied traitor and I would gladly trade you in in a heartbeat. Especially for one with better eyesight and upper body strength.

    Buck up and get it together.

  • Pulling a sickie

    Getting sick was one of my worst fears during my uni days. I didn’t have time for it! I had classes to go to, essays to write, oh, and work to go to. As a casual at one job, I didn’t get paid if I was sick and didn’t go in. At my other, I built up sick leave at a verrrrrrry slow rate – so much so that I ran out of it after a solid bout of flu or two.

    Now, I get paid when I’m reduced to spending the day in bed coughing my lungs out and tearing through copious boxes of tissues. But most of all, I think what I really hate is the actual process of calling in sick. I feel guilty. I usually phrase it as a request – “I might take the day off sick, if that’s okay?” – although what kind of demonic boss says no to an ailing staff member?

    One time I was so incapacitated that I merely sent a one-word text to my boss. (“Sick.”) I was so weak I almost asked BF to write it for me. The next day I roused myself and picked up the phone. Upon hearing my voice, the boss wished me a speedy recovery and said he’d see me next week. I still don’t know what came over me. It was the height of summer, but it felt like the death flu.

    Usually, though, I text or email in to say that I’m poorly and don’t think I’ll be in that day. And when I do return to the office, my sick leave is already entered into the system and approved. If only the entire organisation could be so efficient.

    How do you feel about calling in sick? What’s your workplace protocol for doing it?


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  • Catching up

    So yeah. I’ve been sick. I barely managed to text ’sick’ to my boss on Thursday, and on Friday I got up and got dressed for work before collapsing back into bed. I managed at least call in that day, though. It sucked, because I’ve been working on a story and making lots of overseas calls, but I’m a strong believer that health is paramount.

    See, I came down with a weird flu-type thing, without the cold. I was pained, sore, exhausted and generally felt shitty. I pride myself on being very in touch with my body (read: HYPOCHONDRIAC) and a combination of factors had me all panicked thinking OH MY GOD I HAVE TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME. But I worked out that I’d been feeling sick before my ‘lady time’, as Ray Romano says, kicked in. And after that passed, more things happened that freaked me the hell out (trust me, you don’t want details), and there I was convinced I was on death’s bed, and all by myself with T five hours away (he deserves his fun, but on this weekend of ALL weekends?!)

    Oh, and how hard is it to get to see a doctor on a weekend, let alone a public holiday? Impossible. But good for my wallet – I managed to get an appointment today with the doctor on campus. Still, like T says, I need to get a real GP, especially now that I’m no longer a student and there’s not much point continuing to use the clinic at uni. He couldn’t believe that we never really had a family doctor growing up, and is all set on enrolling me with his GP for the future. Which seems like a very grown up thing to do.

    Finally, here’s the last photo for January’s challenge. Stay tuned to find out what February’s will be. (Borderline bag lady? Trampy? Yes? I don’t care – nobody important saw me in this.)

  • Weekend wrapup

    It’s been a hell of a week.

    Sunday: Plumber was meant to come, according to LL. Never showed. Man, am I sick of being fucked around.

    Monday: Up at 6, went with BF to sit his full licence. His friend N turns up to pick us up (he was sitting his too, straight before BF, and lending BF the car for his)…only to inform us his registration had run out two days ago and he’d only just realised. But at 6.30am, there ain’t nowhere to buy a new rego. NOWHERE.

    Instructor tells friend he can fit him in at 3.30. BF rings around to see who he can borrow a car off. My friend M obliges, but turning up with one headlight out. It’s the instructor’s last day, and he says he’ll let it slide. Off they go. But they’re back in five minutes, because there’s a bit of fog and they need both headlights. In the meantime N has hurried off to VTNZ to renew his reg, and has returned. Instructor sets off with him to take his test. BF, me and M gun it to Repco to buy a new headlight. By the time N returns, it’s time for the instructor’s next test and BF has to wait half an hour.

    Halfway through BF’s test, he pulls back into the carpark. He comes over to me and M, stony faced, and informs us that the instructor pulled him over halfway through because of a scratching sound on the left side of the car, got out, KICKED both sides of the bumper, and caused it to fall off. (M’s car is a junker. But it is warranted, roadworthy, and has never had the bumper come off, that is, until this instructor saw fit to assault it). He then declared the car unfit to finish the test in.

    We ask the AA for a complaint form, which we fill out and return to the counter staff. Counter staff flat out REFUSE to fax it off to Christchurch HQ, despite not being busy and having a fax machine right behind them. No, we have to waste more of our morning, after that appalling experience, and invest more of our time and money into following this up. BF is fairly controlled, all things considered, and simply spits out “You make it impossible to complain” and we stalk out. You would think they would appreciate feedback and the opportunity to improve, but clearly their policy is to make it difficult to complain and hope that puts people off.

    BF calls up the LTNZ call centre, has a girl take down all the details, and she says he’ll get a response within three days. She says he may get a full refund. Which would be nice, even if it doesn’t make up for the time wasted. It’ll be weeks before he can get a resit. That’s how backlogged the AA are. Pity we can’t even boycott them, because nobody else does driver testing.

    Tuesday: Lugged BF’s crutches to town and around uni (well, to one lecture). Fax off complaint form to LTNZ for verification purposes (costs me a dollar and ten minutes waiting time). Bussed up to Grafton, walked across the bridge and to Auckland Hospital to return them. Lady at reception told me to leave them “by the doors where the lino starts”. Well, where the said lino started was by the lifts, and a corridor which clearly stated “staff only”. I wandered further down the wing and took a look all around to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. I also stuck my head into the “admin reception” to check there, and the receptionist told me there would be an “equipment pool” at the main reception. Trudged back there.

    Out of all the three staff, I HAD to be served by the same first lady. She snapped at me and insisted there were double doors there and I had gone “way too far”. I went back to the “start of the lino”, saw no doors, and promptly started crying. Stress, tiredness, and tiredness of everything in my life having to be so goddamn complicated. Even returning one pair of crutches.

    Thankfully, a security guard and a female volunteer took pity on me. The guard told me to leave the crutches by the lifts, and the woman had a little chat to me as I blew my nose, tried to dry my eyes and straighten my skirt. Then back to the reception with my receipt for my $35 refund. GOT THE SAME GODDAMN LADY again. She directed me round to the cashier around the corner….who refused to help me and insisted I had to go back to ED and fill out some sort of form there. Seriously. No wonder people go on shooting sprees for less. (Jokes. Sort of)

    Trudged down to ED, on the verge of more angry tears. Amazingly, the staff there were really nice. I filled out a form, and after a brief explanation of the situation to the puzzled girl I offered to go and try retrieve the crutches from where they were. Luckily, they were where I’d left them, and I signed that form and was told to expect a check in the mail. Well, all right then.

    After a full day, went to a pub quiz at the Horse and Trap (great atmosphere, pity the place is always packed, but we’ve been lucky enough to get a table every time as someone leaves right before the quiz starts). Started feeling weird aches in my neck, but tried to ignore them all night.

    Wednesday: Woke up feeling like the behind of a donkey. Except I had six straight hours of class starting at 8, and a test I had to sit and pass. (I aced it, BTW, 100%). I struggled through the day, feeling strange aches and pains in my neck, shoulders and back, alternate chills and flushes, whole-body numbness and that awful burning mouth feeling you get when you’re coming down with the flu. I made sure to hand in the two assignments I had due the next day, texted to say I had the death flu and wouldn’t be coming in to work, and left at 1pm to go home and pass out.

    Thursday: Awoke around 9, with the aches and pains gone, but a huge lump in my throat. Went back to sleep. Up at noon, sore throat staved off and feeling well enough to email my tutors to explain my absence. BF got the car towed to the workshop which did his clutch in December, where they said they’d have a look tomorrow and if it was in fact the clutch, then it would be under warranty still and all we’d have to pay is labour.

    Friday: No word back from the mechanics. Struggle through morning class, six hours of work, and home to dinner and bed.

  • Just got back from hospital….

    BF’s nephew is sick and they suspect meningococcal.

    I haven’t had the meningitis  shot but didn’t touch him and didn’t go too near him…BF’s sis has to shower before she gets home and goes anywhere near her kids…

    It’s very sad and worrying.

    I’m glad I budgeted this week. We were in the black.

    But instead of putting money to the car fund, it has gone toward gas and food (getting to hospital, and then eating there).

    Honestly, I admit I was annoyed because bf didn’t get around to calling any job leads today because of that.

    It didn’t help that once we got the call to drive over, BF was frantically rushing round, turning the house upside down trying to find his keys. They were LOCKED in his tool box. Yeah, don’t even go there. He decimated it to try and get them out….tried to prise it open by whacking it, burning/melting it, etc.

    Here it is.


    Silly boy.


    We tried to follow the ambulance from the one hospital to the other. We kept up for awhile..it had its lights and sirens on and was RACING like nobody’s business. We sped down the roads behind it, running a couple of lights, but it was doing 90 in a 50 zone and once we began approaching the motorway onramps the ambulance flew down the wrong side of the road and we knew it was time to quit. Don’t know how much faster it got there than us but I’d wager it was there within 5-10 minutes, and we took about 15. I never knew ambulances could go that fast!!

    * * *

    UPDATE: next day.

    I’m really grateful to Starship Hospital, they do such a fantastic job and I wish I could do something. They have a campaign going on getting people to donate their old cellphones. My cellphone is pretty old but I’m holding on to it until it dies. I might write in a letter or something…it almost inspires me to  want to work for a non-profit.

    They provide rooms at the Ronald McDonald house for kids’ parents, subsidise parking ($10 max – BF’s mum borrowed the car to go there, and put $30 gas in..we ended up paying for her parking but it was only $10 so we’re still ahead thanks to  her). They also provided phone credit so the family could ring the doctors/nurses rather than just texting.

    We scootered into town to pick up the car and leave the scooter there for them. It was…an experience. It was COLD. But invigorating. I thought it was freezing just walking home from the bus stop…try going 60k/h while exposed to the elements. And a little scary, being among all the cars on the road and having nothing between you. I am definitely not a scooter person. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun! I just wouldn’t want ot do it all the time. I’d rather drive. The trip took an age, mainly the first half getting through all the suburbs and all the stopping and starting and turning into streets. Once we got onto the main roads it was sweet, although realistically scooters don’t go that fast, especially with two people on them! The bus is probably just as fast, if not as flexible.

    Also, we definitely are no longer in the black for this week. I ran out of face cleanser, and also, we bought a garage coupon deal. Basically, it’s a big sheet with a bunch of services (like warrants, brake stuff, service, labour etc). You pay $40 and it’s about $400 worth of services. We took it for $20. Too good to pass up, and at the worst we can easily onsell it!

  • Now I know how Tom Hanks felt in The Green Mile…

    because I had a UTI yesterday. (TMI? Sorry!).

    Is there really anything worse?

    I don’t think much can compete with the burning, stinging, aching that accompanies you relieving yourself.

    My med student friend instructed me to haul my ass to the doctor.

    I was already well inclined to, having googled my way around the basics, and I even planned to catch the early bus in order to make an appointment before my 10am tute.

    I drank lots of water – it helped! Made all the world of difference, and actually mitigated that full-bladder feeling. Weird, I know.

    By the next day I felt a bit better but went into Health, Counselling and Wellbeing services. Doctors were booked up until MONDAY, so I asked to see a nurse.

    She didn’t seem too worried. I explained my symptoms seemed to be lessened today and she asked “So, what do you want to do?”

    Uh…you’re the pro….

    She gave me some nasty ass antibiotics which I took then and there, told me to go buy some Ural from the chemist, and to come back if it didn’t clear up.

    I felt like a bit of a drama queen when she asked “so you were bleeding?” and I explained yes, but just a little bit, just a trace last night. I almost apologised for being such a wuss, but frankly, would you not find it disconcerting to see blood in the toilet, whatever the amount?

    By the end of the day it definitely felt like it was clearing. I didn’t buy any Ural. I don’t know what brought this on, but I sure as hell hope it doesn’t return.

  • Under the weather

    I was considering getting the flu injection, but I haven’t heard anything good about it. It’s only ten bucks at uni, but the few people I’ve spoken to who’ve had it reckon they actually got sick right away, and really badly too!

    No thanks.

    I first felt the flu coming on three weeks ago. I took painkillers and vitamins, and staved it off. A few days later I felt weak and feverish, crawled into bed, and slept most of it off. Then I got a stomach bug, and spent a few days immobile.

    Ever since then I’ve been fighting off a cold. I’ve still got the remnants of it – chesty cough, stuffed nose, phlegm in my chest and throat. Sorry, nasty I know.

    But everyone seems to have been struck particularly hard this year. Sniffles and nose-blowing punctuate every class I’m in. Sometimes people get coughing fits and have to leave the room.

    IT SUCKS!! I need to be on top of my game. The rest of this semester is going to be so full on, and I can’t afford to be under the weather.

    I’m just trying to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and not stress too much.

    BF seems to have been approved for unemployment, so that takes some of the strain off.

    Damn you, winter. I’m not a huge fan of summer – too hot, humid, muggy – but winter is far worse. I don’t deal well with cold, I get sick easily, and my sinuses go nuts. At least when it’s warm, the worst that can happen is you overheat, get sunburnt, and sweat a bit. And you can always take some clothes off. There’s a limit to how much you rug up….