This past week I went to work when I probably shouldn’t have. Up all night coughing, sniffling, draining. I didn’t have a fever. I wasn’t throwing up. It was only 12 hours… I could do it. Sure, I’d have to wear a mask. Sure, I sounded like a man who smoked 2 packs a day. But I could do it. I didn’t want them to be short. I didn’t want my coworkers thinking I was just another call in. So after a cup of tea and a hot shower I threw on my warmest scrubs and a messy bun and hit the road.
That was a mistake.
I lucked out and only had two patients, one of which had minimal neurological function so wasn’t aware how ill their nurse was. However between managing feeding tubes, repositioning, and multidisciplinary care conversations, I was slowing down. Under my mask my nose was running, my skin was becoming more raw. I was sneaking tea in between charting assessments. Pretty sure I lost a layer of skin on my hands from all the sanitizer.
My coworkers did not hesitate in commenting on my clearly disheveled state.
“Oh honey, you look like crap. I better not see you tomorrow.”
“Call in tomorrow…and the next day…”
“Don’t worry about staffing, take care of yourself!”
“You have sick time for a REASON.”
Having only a year under my belt at my current facility, and being a newer nurse in general, I was afraid of calling in. I didn’t want to have that reputation. I didn’t want to leave my fellow nurses short staffed.
But, as usual, my coworkers were right. There was absolutely no use in running myself into the ground. All goes back to taking care of yourself so you can take care of others.
The next day I called in. And the next day. Turns out I had a viral upper respiratory infection and bronchitis. It’s true what they say…nurses are the worst patients.