Rainy redbud

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling tired and achy, as if I hadn’t really slept. Worse yet, my throat was sore and scratchy, my body’s usual sign that I’m coming down with something. This morning, by contrast, I woke up feeling refreshed and energized, with not even a hint of a sore throat. My secret recipe for a 24-hour turnaround? Yesterday, I stayed home from school.

Inside looking out

In high school, I was a Perfect Attendance kind of girl, and this habit lingered into both college and graduate school. Even on days when I felt sick as a dog, I’d drag myself to class and suffer through my symptoms, taking whatever over-the-counter medicines would get me through the day and feeling smug about my own hardiness. While everyone else was taking sick days to swaddle themselves in blankets, sip soup, and soak up some much needed rest and recovery time, I marched on like a good little soldier, never letting something as silly as sickness interfere with work.

In recent years, as my body has aged, I’ve abandoned the Perfect Attendance martyrdom of my youth. For one thing, I’ve learned that working while you’re sick only makes you sicker. I’ve learned from experience that the practice of tending to your presumably “must-do” to-dos when you should be resting usually backfires, as a drawn-out illness takes more time out of your schedule than does an infection you nip in the bud. I’ve also learned that while my immune system is probably stronger than most people’s, once an infection finds a chink in my proverbial armor, I’m prone to longer, more debilitating illnesses. Thanks to my asthma and allergies, I’m susceptible to respiratory infections, so even “just” a common cold often leads to laryngitis or bronchitis, two ailments I’ve spent entire seasons fighting.

Redbud pods

In the past, when I’ve explained my time-tested home remedy of “l[ying] low–very low–at the first sign of a cold, quarantining myself in my apartment away from germ-laden college students and imbibing as much hot soup, tea, and Vitamin C as I can swallow,” I’ve felt like wimpy slacker. If I were healthier, tougher, or in possession of a stronger work ethic, I’d soldier on through sickness, like I did when I was younger. This year, in light of widespread fears over H1N1, the simple but incredibly sensible practice of calling in sick when you’re sick is suddenly fashionable. Not only have Keene State students and faculty been instructed to isolate themselves when they fall ill, even the federal government is instructing citizens to protect their coworkers by staying home when they’re sick.

So yesterday, I did my civic duty. Not only did I cancel my Tuesday classes in order to stay home and sip chicken soup and hot herbal tea, I spent a large portion of the day sleeping, keeping my germs to myself and bolstering my body’s natural defenses. Today, I feel 100% better, and I trust that tomorrow, I’ll be ready to climb back into the trenches, soldiering on as am employee with Almost Perfect attendance.