What is a sick day?

The first rule of everything: never get cocky. Within a few days of my announcement that everything was stable with The Drugs and The Cancer, I developed an upset stomach. Like very upset, like I couldn’t digest much of anything. Also very painful cramps. And it kept going. I’m used to that happening every so often for a few days. That’s “normal.” But it just…kept…going.

There’s the normal exhaustion that goes with something like the stomach flu, except it won’t quit, and I’m on The Drugs which already make me fatigued, and the drugs I take for the riots happening in my lower intestine also make me tired. We are now approaching the three week mark. After some experimentation with prophylactic doses of Imodium over the weekend, today I am feeling like “me” for the first time in awhile. Not that I’d say everything is ok yet. I am slowly introducing things to my diet again and may even have a salad — a salad!!!! — with dinner tonight, to see what happens.

I actually googled “Imodium vs Lomotil” at one point to see if I should maybe make a switch (I can’t wait to see what kinds of ads I get served!). What I learned is that both are, at their heart, synthetic opiates. Which explains why I hate Imodium so much. Opiates make my head fuzzy, and I am a cheap date on drugs.

This also lead to a very fucked up work September for me. I am behind on almost everything except for my undergrad class, which I prioritized because it’s like a very large vehicle that doesn’t make sudden turns; and letters of recommendation, because deadlines aren’t going to wait for me. I am in a sense “lucky” to be working at home still since I doubt I would have been able to make it to campus some days where I taught or attended a meeting. I am definitionally lucky that I am teaching a course that is not a new prep. I’m also lucky that I have no urgent work deadlines coming up–a perk of having a book delayed at the printer.

And yet, it occurs to me that while I get disability leave as a benefit (complete with bureaucratic procedures and biocertification), there is no such thing as a sick day for profs, or in my case, sick weeks. Then again, last week things got really bad and I bailed on a bunch of meetings and appointments, as well as some meetups with friends and band practice (#FOMO, or perhaps #DOMO), so I guess I sort of made my own, which is certainly a privilege of the position. But the flip side of the independence that most faculty enjoy is the dependence that seems to come with it. We are solely responsible for an awful lot of things. I confess that I am not a good judge of when or how to say I am “out sick,” vs when I am “in sick.” [Insert line here from Deleuze and Guattari about the machine only working because it breaks down.]