If you are sick, stay home please!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/03/12 02:19 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/03/12/394417.aspx

Warning: No technical content!

Just recently I posted Sorry to say it, but MS sucks and I admit it was a lot of fun to write. Challenging the inherent expectations of people is often that way.

I used to do the same thing in a slightly different way. I would tell people that I have a serious, chronic incurable disease that causes dysfunction of the immune system. I give them a few moments to take a huge leap into an abyss for which they were entirely unprepared and then I explain that I meant I have Multiple Sclerosis. Talk about your garden path sentences!

Sometimes under cover of something like this I would ask for a small extra allowance of some sort, some way to make the day a little easier. And it was not that big of a deal because it would be a stealth request....

Now I was never doing it to be mean, I think I just did it to keep myself from taking the whole thing too seriously. Like if I could joke about it then maybe it was a joke. The joke was probaly on me, mostly, though it was nice to know that a tributary of da-Nile (denial) flowed through Redmond, WA.

But the funny thing is that now that I am getting bad enough that I can't joke as much, I also feel less comfortable asking for things. Even though I may need to ask more often now.

All week people have been worried that I look really run down. Several people noted this to me and even more people talked to the few people who felt comfortable saying something to me. The funny thing was that I was not worse because of the MS directly, I was worse because I got sick.

There was a fairly bad flu going around the office. I never felt the flu, I never had a fever.

There was never any indication I had it, but I had a full-blown subclinical course of the flu going on. I know because of one interesting side effect of MS is that when my immune system gets triggered by something, it goes into overdrive. It kills the bug (whatever that may be) and then because it has so much spare time on its hands and no broadband connection, some of those immune cells that had that "kill whitey myelin" on their mind go on a beer run in my body and knock me over like a strike at the bowling alley.

(I think I went over quota on strange allusions and bizarre references in that last sentence, sorry!)

Anyway, I worked from home one day since I was having trouble moving around at all, and after that just spent a bunch of days walking around less and scooting a lot more. I even fell a bunch of times, though never badly and I never hurt myself.

The moral of the story? Stay away from people who are sick and who come to work. And take the step to ask of the people with whom I work a favor -- if you are sick then stay home! :-)

Now there is one person I work with who will read this and feel incredibly guilty, but he shouldn't because I am pretty sure I did not catch it from him. He probably will anyway despite me saying this right now (and he knows who he is!) so I highly recommend he not take any of this personally. It is not intended that way.

I am just trying to get over the latent fear of expressing my needs that I was talking about a minute ago and say that this is something I need. So I can stay productive, both at work and at home. And I am doing it here since it is a nice chicken**** way to do it without having to say it to people directly. And now no one has to say anything either. Which I still don't really feel comfortable with anyway just now, if you know what I mean.... :-)

I made it through this time and got all my work done before the deadline. And the only price I paid was the one day I was stuck at home (though I still was able to be involved in a conference call to peoplee on the other side of the world that day!) was everyone thinking I looked really tired/worrying if I needed to start working part time or something. I am going to take steps and plan so there is less chance of there being a next time.

So that my immune system does not get to have such a free to pass to kicking the crap out of me -- next time you are sick, work from home. Or at least warn me and I will stay away....

# Uwe Keim on 12 Mar 2005 5:45 AM:

In the past I heard from various sources, that the number of bacteriums or viruses a human is carrying is the same, both in summer and winter.

Only difference is that in winter the human body is more liable to be affected by a particular influence.

So, if this is true (I'm by no means a medical-aware person), it doesn't matter whether you have zero or multiple ill persons around you...

# Michael Kaplan on 12 Mar 2005 5:48 AM:

Well I can only speak from my own experience -- which is that it does make a difference, for me at least....

# bryan on 12 Mar 2005 7:45 AM:

well my understanding is that viruses are still in the system and contagious two days after symtpoms are gone and one day before. for this reason I've never seen any benefit in staying home if one didn't want to, because when you do go in feeling great you will spread the virus anyway.

# Michael Kaplan on 12 Mar 2005 7:48 AM:

Well, just stay away from me then, in any case. Please! :-)

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