To call in or not to call in…


Some days I swear clocks are the worst kind of liars. They sit there, calm and inanimate, as the hands spin or the numbers shift, but the time they tell never seems to be consistent. Minutes pass so quickly when I’m trying to get all my people up for a meal; they meander slowly when I’m working a double and can’t wait to get off.
Time only seems to fly when it’s inconvenient.

I’m too tired for this crap, I think…or should that be I’m too tired from this crap? Either one works. I’m clearly succumbing to some form of madness, laying here in bed cursing at my clock. Or maybe the fever has gone to my brain.
Why should it be this difficult? Why is this issue, to call in or not to call in, such a sore one? I’ve reached for my phone half a dozen times now…only to put it down each time. The words are there: “I’m sorry, I’m sick, I’m not coming in,” but I can’t quite bring myself to actually make the call.
I didn’t chose to be sick and if my actions are any indication, I don’t want to call in. I also don’t want to work while I feel like crap.
I’m still awake, so I’ll just analyze the crap out of my feelings. Who knows, maybe I’ll either come to a decision or bore myself to sleep. Why am I having such trouble calling in, even though it is justified? It’s not just me with this issue…I recently read an article (I can’t for the life of me remember where) about nurses and aides not taking their sick days. I’ve seen it in the field too…just few days ago, I asked an obviously sick coworker why she hadn’t called in. Her answer was painfully familiar: “I couldn’t do that to the rest of you. Or my residents.”
I’ve seen this issue from both sides. I’ve been resentful, having to work short because someone called in. I’ve been resentful, working sick so my coworkers wouldn’t work short. I’ve powered through shifts, counting the minutes until I got off and praying for the strength to stay upright. The problem is, I know I can do it again.
But should I? Is it right or fair? And fair for whom? It’s not in the residents’ best interest if I work when I’m feeling like crap…but it’s also not in their best interest if I call in every time I don’t feel 100%. Like many aides, I want to take care of others first. It feels…so selfish to say “Sorry, can’t do it”. And there’s pride, too. Pride can do wonders for your motivation and judgement of your limits.
There’s got to be a line. And I have to start taking care of myself too. I can’t give from emptiness.
Okay, a line. I can work when I’m not feeling good, but not if I’m sick. Not all illnesses come with a high fever. I can’t remember facility policy all that well…Whatever definition I come up with, I’m pretty sure “I think I’m dying and I can’t breathe because there’s an old man snoring in my lungs” counts as sick.
I resolutely roll over in bed and make the call. I make myself stay on the line until I hear someone answer.
“Hi, it’s May–”
“My God, you sound awful!”
“I’m sick–”
“You don’t say! Want me to put you down for a call in? Right, get some rest and feel better.”
As I hang up, I can only think one thing: I seriously overthought this one!

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