It always starts with a sneeze, doesn’t it? Yesterday, I was sitting at work, and suddenly the dreaded familiar first tickle of winter illness rose from deep within my core, expelling itself in a rather violent manner. “ACHOO!!!!!” Gross. And, as any normal person would, I rushed to the bathroom, blew my nose, and disinfected myself and the space. It’s probably just allergies, I thought to myself, clearly in denial. Someone is probably hiding a cat under their desk, or maybe even someone who hates me and knows that cats are my own respiratory nightmare brought a cat in after hours and had it rub all over my cubicle, leaving dander everywhere. I mean, isn’t that the most likely explanation? Obviously!
As someone who is blessed with “seasonal” allergies that actually just last through the entire year, sneezing and coughing has become a routine part of my life. Most days, I feel like I am walking around with a low-grade cold. But, this sneeze was different, and in my gut, I knew it. This sneeze was the usual start of my yearly winter illness which always shows up just after the hard-partying holidays, like clockwork. It’s punctuality rivals that of my menses, which (TMI!) is equally impressive. The riddle of the Sphinx is, if biologically my body is right on schedule all day, every day, every year, then why am I always late to everything? Ba-dum-ching!
So, I’m sick, and what a huge shocker (not) because everyone on the planet is sick, too. Or at least everyone with access to social media, since that seems to be the biggest buzz on the Web right now besides Kimye and their godless spawn. Considering my underperforming immune system and the fact that this anonymous virus/bacterial adventureland has been closing in on me for weeks, this is to be expected. Thus, I thought this would be the opportune moment to take a little time to educate everyone on the etiquette of illness. I see a lot of these violations all winter long, and those sniffly situations are how we all end up in this mess. Let’s get our collective shit together, people, so that moving forward we can weather an entire winter without the spread of contagious disease which ruins our Super Happy Fun Time.
1. Stop figuratively licking everyone’s keyboards and doorknobs, you unbelievable sociopath.
This should go without saying, but here I am, SAYING IT ANYWAY. If you are sick, and I mean legitimately ill, think-you-might-pass-out-while-driving-oops-I-just-shit-my-pants ill, please do not go to work. Do not go to the mall because you, like, totally need some new jeans since your illness has you feeling a few pounds lighter than normal. Do not go to the gym. Do not attend that very important business meeting - maybe make it a conference call? And, even though I know it crushes your soul, you should probably skip that birthday party this weekend. Because here’s the funny thing about illness: it spreads like a California wildfire accidentally sparked by a six-year-old with fireworks during the Santa Ana winds.
If you don’t believe me, then please visit the CDC website. That would be the Center For Disease Control, which (surprazz!) is not just the setting for one of the most bad ass scenes ever from The Walking Dead. And speaking of zombies, how do you think that shit got its start anyway? Oh, right.
2. Call your doctor.
What if I told you that there were people on this planet whose sole purpose is to look at mysterious, gross shit and listen to you complain? And, sometimes, they can even tell you why the unexplainable gross shit is happening, and what you can do to make it go away! WHAT?! Yes, friends, these people exist. They are doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and a variety of other medical professionals who work tirelessly to help make your life better when your sinuses are so full of snot that your eyeballs are floating.
What’s that, you say? You hate the doctor! I know, girl, who doesn’t. I bet you are also a little afraid of going to the doctor too, because **WHAT IF YOU HAVE CANCER? AND THEN, YOU WILL KNOW ABOUT IT!!!? HOLY SHIT! I feel you, friend, having to take time out of your very busy day to sit in an office that is sterile and boring and listen to someone tell you something that you may or may not already know sounds whack. Still, it is in your best interest to drag yourself there anyway, because that is the only place you will be able to get the good drugs like Tamiflu. And Xanax, so you can chill the freak out, because you don’t have cancer. Yay!
**actual reason why I didn’t go to the doctor for like, most of my adult life.
3. But I don’t have health insurance.
Oh, get over yourself, no one has health insurance anymore, these are confusing times. Pretty soon, everyone will probably have health insurance, but just go ahead and bring that up at Christmas dinner and see what happens. Or maybe don’t, I mean, you’ll have to choose your own adventure.
Regardless, insurance or not, you have options. CVS offers affordable care to those in need through Minute Clinics, which are located at many of their retail locations. Most major cities also offer a variety of free clinics that accept payment based on a sliding scale, and you can find them via a quick Google search from your iPhone 5. My point is, you can get medical attention for an affordable price with minimal effort on your behalf. I am not saying that there isn’t anything wrong with the healthcare system because obviously there is not enough time in the day to talk about that, I am just saying, again, that you have options.
4. But I can’t call out of work! The company will implode if I don’t go to work, then the world will stop turning, and everyone will die.
That’s unreasonably dramatic and also a lie. You are not that important. But, your health is! It’s all you have! I bet you can figure something out. I have faith in you.
5. Just take care of yourself, man.
I bet you are just so, so, busy, am I right? Well, guess what! You are not special. Between work, and school, and working out, and kids, and social obligations and having a life and bills, bills, bills, I think that maybe 0.00047% of the population is eating right, getting enough sleep, and taking their vitamins. What’s worse is that work, school and the gym are disgusting cesspools of bacteria and infected, vengeful amoebas. Said locations are also full of people who are sick but still show up, and who refuse to go to the doctor. You just can’t win, can you? Life is so unfair!!
Here’s what you can control: your own preventative measures to make sure that you don’t become a victim of Unnamed Winter Sickness. Wash your hands! It’s so important. If you don’t think it’s important, then watch Contagion. I can say with certainty that upon viewing that movie, you that you will never forget to wash your hands ever again. You can also eat well! Of course, no one is perfect so don’t feel bad about sometimes eating pizza and ice cream for dinner, but maybe you can have a salad too? All of those yummy greens have nutrients that help your immune system, which is an important part of staying healthy. Fuck it, go crazy and put ice cream and pizza ON your salad. I won’t food-shame you! And lastly, go to bed. I AM SERIOUS, GET OFF THE INTERNET AND GO TO BED. Twitter will still be there in the morning.
Sometimes, you can do all of this and much more and still succumb to illness. Sneezing and coughing uncontrollably, you are also stuck spending a few days hallucinating from a fever and watching daytime television. Under siege, the illness holds you hostage and ravages you until you are miserable and starting to question your mental health, because you can’t decide whether you are hot or cold, because you are simultaneously shivering and sweating and OH MY GOD, that has to be bad, right? Yes, well, what you need to do then is emotionally manipulate your nearest friend or family member in to going to the drugstore for you and getting you some NyQuil. Take it, and all will be right with the world. We’ll see ya in a few days, because you are about to break the time-space continuum and travel to a magical fairytale land of healing only to return when you are healthy.
These are just some suggestions, of course. But since I really do try to take pretty good care of myself, and also because I am a blameshifter, I am super pissed I am sick. I have plans this weekend! And the company is going to probably collapse without me. See what I did there? Time to take my own advice. Good night all, and good luck.