Keep Your Illness to Yourself

17 02 2011

It starts with a sneeze and a sniff over the cubicle wall. “Ugh!” you think as you slather yourself in hand sanitizer, “Why is that person at work while they’re sick? I have a vacation next week, I cannot get sick!”

According to a recent study, nearly three out of four people go to work when they’re sick and about one in three Americans said they would show up to work no matter how sick they feel.

Image by Leonid Mamchenkov

Why do we do it?  Why do we insist on going to work sick and making ourselves and everyone else miserable?

Turns out there are reasons. We often have a lot of anxiety about taking a sick day. A study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 19% of Americans feel pressure by their boss or supervisor to go to work when they are feeling sick. Some of us don’t have the luxury of sick days and taking a day off means less pay. While this might seem unfair, it’s a reality for many.

The truth is — everyone loses when we go to work sick.

We can prolong our illness or exacerbate it by not getting the rest our body needs to fight the infection.

Our coworkers lose by being exposed to a microbe that can sicken them and that they in turn will share with their family and friends. More than half of workers have pointed a finger at a coworker as the source of their illness.

There’s also a cost associated with coming to work sick. Presenteeism, when an employee shows up sick and isn’t productive, costs the U.S. economy $180 billion annually in lost productivity.

OK, maybe that’s not the best motivation for staying home when sick, but we need to give our coworkers a break.  Don’t be the coughing, hacking, germ-spreading guy who ruins everyone’s weekend or worse, vacation, by making them sick.  Stay home, watch TV, eat ice cream, sleep.  Your body deserves it.

Contest Time!

28 10 2010

Ever had a family member, neighbor, or friend offer “helpful” home remedies as you lay helpless with flu or a cold?  We’ve heard some weird ones in our time (smell a skunk for combatting cold symptoms anyone?) and bet you have, too.

We’re running a contest to see who has the funniest home remedy.  At the end of November, we’ll narrow it down to the top three and you can vote for the winner online!

At PKIDs, some of our personal home remedy stories include:

Whiskey, honey and lemon (from Trish):

When I was in my 20s, I had a cough that lasted for months and almost turned me inside out.  Yep, it was probably whooping cough.

I had no insurance and couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, so my mom told me about a cough remedy they used when she was growing up in Oklahoma: hot water, honey, lemon and whiskey.

Mix it all together and sip it and eventually, you stop coughing (or at least you stop noticing that you’re coughing).

I sat, I sipped, I mixed, then mixed some more. I ran into walls, giggled when I fell down, and could not figure out what was wrong with me!  I wasn’t thinking “big ole alcoholic drink” I was thinking “medicine.”

The next day, every time I coughed, my head felt like it was going to split open.  Thanks, mom.

Drink orange juice upside down (from Rachael):

When I was a kid, I used to hiccup regularly. Once I made the mistake of hiccupping around grandma, who immediately ran to the kitchen and fetched a glass of orange juice. “Bend over, honey! And drink this upside down. Your hiccups will go away.”

Well the hiccups did go away, after the searing sinus pain of citrus burned my nostrils beyond recognition…

Smothering a fever (from Laura):

For my grandmother, the first plan of defense for any fever was to make yourself even more feverish! So at the first sign of a fever, she would wrap us grandkids in mountains of blankets until everything down to the mattress was soaked with sweat.

Do you have funny tales to tell of your family’s attempts to self-medicate? Email them to us or put them in the comments section of the blog, or post them on our Facebook page.

We’ll track this on our Facebook page and post the top three there for you to vote on.  Winner gets a prize!

Patients’ Rights

10 08 2007

Although no parent can bear to think of their child being terminally ill, we know it does happen. When it happens, each of us wants the right to use any drug available to save our child.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided that a terminally ill patient does not have a constitutional right to experimental drugs, even if those drugs could potentially save that patient.

In a dissent written by Judge Judith W. Rogers, she said that courts have established the right “to marry, to fornicate, to have children, to control the education and upbringing of children, to perform varied sexual acts in private, and to control one’s own body even if it results in one’s own death or the death of a fetus…but the right to try to save one’s life is left out in the cold despite its textual anchor in the right to life.”

Parents of terminally ill children should have access to experimental drugs that have undergone preliminary safety testing but are not yet FDA-approved. Period.