Last night, achy, woozy, sore-throaty, and exhausted, I went to bed at 6:30 and slept around the clock. This morning, after comically failing to stand upright and stay there, I called in sick and crawled back into bed — where I slept for another five hours. I’ve been periodically napping ever since.
Now I’m feeling guilty: for not going into work when clearly whatever I’ve got isn’t fatal; for not working on work while I’m at home; for not working on other stuff while I’m at home, be it duty or leisure; being just sick enough to be useless — in other words, not being sick enough (in my own mind) to ‘deserve’ rest and time for recuperation…the list goes on, growing like a goldfish in proportion to its container (=my existence).
I start to think that this sort of thing (=my occasional catching of colds, etc.) is the reason I’ll never get a raise or promotion at work, why even if I wanted to leave I’d never manage to find another job, why I’ll never get my $#!+ together enough to pursue various life goals, why if I just left, I’d end up dying alone in a gutter somewhere, why no matter how many side projects I take on to compensate for low salary, limited mobility, intellectual stimulation, the effect is that of a hamster on a wheel, racing round and round…you get the idea.*
My mother once confided to me that most medical advice (e.g. “rest and drink plenty of fluids,” instructions in the form of an acronym, PLUS any and all suggestions for complaints involving the phrase “soft tissue”) is primarily designed to alleviate anxiety in the patient, because no one wants to be told that there’s no quick fix for whatever minor issue they’re mewling about. Basically,
If you’re gravely ill or injured, then you’ll need and probably get the attention of medical professionals, but
If you’re not, there’s really nothing to do but wait.
I am aware that my standards are, perhaps, a wee bit unrealistic. As far as I’m concerned, short of solving a f*cking murder mystery, any time spent ill is time ill spent.
I imagine I get this from my parents, socioeconomic immigrants whose struggle to enter America’s middle class (during, perhaps, the first and last period in history in which it was possible to do so) has provided the fodder for a million guilt-inducing speeches about how they’ve never in their lives called in sick for anything, and just think what your grandparents would have given to finish high school, let alone go to college**, and do I even realize how easy my life is, being one of only a handful of children, all of whom survived to adulthood? Also, art is some kind of con game*** and professional advancement is for press-ganged teenagers whose commanding officers have been blown to bits by enemy combatants.
And honestly, my family is MUCH more supportive than most: provided I’m not incarcerated, they’ll never tell me I’m wasting my life. I love them very much.
But I carry their beliefs with me, in a backpack that I don’t always notice until the zipper breaks and the contents spill all over the sidewalk.