Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cold facts

I finally accepted that what I was experiencing was a cold when I realized its effect on the common-sense part of my brain: It froze!!!!!

I struggle with decisionmaking in many areas of my life, but one of the biggest struggles is in the area of sickness. The good news is that I'm not sick very much (thank you, God, and praying for continued health!). The bad news is that when symptoms start to appear, I don't seem to respond very well. The problem with my response typically isn't that I overreact and hibernate. Instead, I tend to discount the symptoms and rationalize that I'm not really sick. I self-analyze my symptoms and their onset, and I come up with what seems like a logical conclusion to me that it's probably just drainage resulting from pollen, that I'm not contagious, and I might as well go to work anyway. By the time I can't deny I was really sick, some of the gunk from the drainage has settled into my upper chest, and I feel worse than ever, with a nasty cough, runny nose, watery eyes, congestion, sore throat but somehow not much of a headache or other pain.

This time, the first symptoms showed up on Sunday, as I was unexpectedly very tired as I prepared to drive home from a weekend trip to Arkansas. But being tired made sense after a busy weekend, so I didn't think much of it. And even when I started to have a runny nose and drainage the next day, I truly thought it was sinuses or allergies, not a cold. I didn't have a cold or a fever. I didn't feel that bad. I might as well work. So I worked Monday. And Tuesday. By Wednesday, I was glad it was a short workday, thinking that if I skipped choir practice, I'd probably feel fine by Thursday. So, I'm not sure what happened Thursday morning, but looking back, I can tell that by then the common sense part of my brain had frozen. Because even though I obviously wasn't getting any better, I rationalized that I might be, and that I didn't want to leave people in a bind at work. And I didn't feel THAT bad, did I? By time I left work, I was pretty sure I felt pretty bad! But when Friday came, for some reason I decided I should work again. Same thought: I don't want to leave them in a bind. And even though midway through the 10-hour shift I knew I'd made a mistake in coming to work, I didn't leave, even as I could see they would have been OK without me.

So I reached the weekend hoping that by staying in bed except to eat and medicate on Saturday would turn the corner for me, so I'd be able to go to church. But I was wrong again. By Sunday morning, I could tell I didn't feel enough better to have any business going to church. So I'm still at the house. I hoped I might feel better by 4, so I might shower and go to my Bible study anyway. But I don't think that's happening, either.

So many issues. Among them ....

-- Why don't I go to a doctor? Because whenever I have gone, it hasn't seemed to help. Or that's how it seems from experience. But in this case, it occurs to me now that I probably should have gone when I wasn't better by Thursday. Now, however, I think I'm on the getting-better side, so I don't think I need to go. (Will I NEVER LEARN!!!!)

-- I have a good work ethic, and I'm proud of that. I don't miss work without a good reason, and I try to give reasonable notice. But there's a warp in my ethic when it comes to sickness, apparently. I don't want to leave people in a bind. I don't want to be a wimp. And I just never have a good feel for whether I really am sick.

-- Work is not my God, but when I look at the past week, I don't like the pattern I see about what I attended to every day (work) and the many things I let go, including recovery meetings, church, choir practice, Bible study, exercise and routine chores. My rationale is that everyone else has to fill in the gap at work if I'm gone, and church and everything else seems to go on fine without me, and that I'm the only one who suffers.

In hopes that this won't have been a wasted week, I'm trying to find some lessons in the experience. What is that line for me when I should recognize that I'm really sick and should stay home? How do I know when it's time to go to the doctor? What's the deal with my warped sense of priority toward not missing work? And where do I go from here? I feel some better, and think I'll be good tomorrow (hope springs eternal!!!!), but how will I ever catch up from getting so behind on everything except work?

I don't have answers right now, but this stuff (thoughts, not just the drainage) has been going on in my head all week, and it continues to be helpful to write it down. It's also crucial that I continue to pray and trust in God. Even in what seems like a wasted week, I can't forget to pray to know and do God's will, to His glory. I have to admit I think I did forget to pray along the way some. There is always so much to be grateful for. Writing about it, including the parts where I'm a bit embarrassed about how I deal with things -- and being able to put it out there for anyone who wants to read it -- keeps me moving forward. May I remain hopeful, grateful and faithful.

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