Nothing unusual about that you might say, it happens to everyone, but it is unusual for me because I can probably count the number of days I’ve taken off sick in almost 50 years of work on the fingers of one hand. And anyway I don’t have a proper job anymore so how can I have taken a sickie? I’ll come back to that later.
Let’s try to justify my claim: less than 5 days off sick.
My first job after University was with Shell at its London offices. I worked there for a little under 4 years and only in the last week or so with them did I find myself down with the flu or similar when I went home half way through the day and stayed there for the next one. But it wasn’t a full sickie because I was in the process of selling off my assets before leaving the country. I got a buyer for my car so I had to drive it over to the buyer on the second day and get the money before he changed his mind. As it happens it was also the evening of my rugby club’s dinner to which I then went. Alcohol is a great medicine so I was in work the next day but I remember not playing that weekend.
After Shell is was Mobil Oil, first in New York and then in Jakarta where I lived for about two years. Sometime about midway through the latter I came out in a rash on my hands and the excellent local doctor reckoned it was fatigue and signed me off work for a week. The fatigue was understandable: we worked and played hard in Jakarta so we did burn the candle at both ends. However a week off was not for me. I think I compromised by going to work a little later and getting a little more sleep. This time alcohol wasn’t a part of the cure.
I had 3 years in Hong Kong after Jakarta with no days off, although I spent one night in hospital with suspected concussion from a rugby game. As luck would have it the next day was a public holiday so no day off. Then we moved to Switzerland where we stayed for 13 years.
I had frequent colds but they ran a predictable course and I worked through them. I even had a bout of appendicitis which gave me a night in hospital, a Friday night, before I recovered sufficiently to return to work on the Monday.
But then in 1992 my attendance record took a dive when I opted for a hip replacement to address a significant osteoarthritis problem. This was still in Switzerland and I had the op in the local village hospital. I was pleased to note at the time that Zurich was one of two world centres of excellence (the other is in the UK) and the operation went well. I will write at length on that experience in another post but it did mean that I had some weeks off work and then a gradual return. But that doesn’t count as a sickie does it?
Since then back to the UK and a number of jobs and the same pre-op pattern. Regular colds but nothing to keep me off work.
My life these days is irregular: some paid for work and quite a lot of daytime county council stuff. On Monday I should have been part of a panel judging bids for highways projects. That would have been in Whittlesford south of Cambridge and would have finished maybe 1730 leaving me no time to get to a much more interesting and important meeting in Wisbech at 1900. So I took a sickie and then went north. I find that the way to get over a cold is to stay warm and avoid stress. So I did.
I’ve taken care during the week and my patience has been rewarded. Yesterday (Saturday) I felt good enough to go for a run. Easy.