I’ve got the flu. Last night I went to bed under three duvets, with a hot Magic Bag at my feet, shivering uncontrollably. My hip joints hurt so badly I’d stuffed a big bolster under my knees. Lying thus flat-ish on my back, I clawed my sweaty hands into the guest room / sick room sheets while repeating my new mantra, “Don’t barf … Don’t … barf …” (The anti-fever and anti-cough medicines always make me very nauseated.)
My eyeballs hurt.
So I’m calling in sick. This ‘call,’ of course, is purely rhetorical: I’m a professor on a non-teaching term, who on earth is there to call who would care? What I mean to say is this: I’m not going to do any work until I feel better, or at least, considerably less terrible than I feel now.
I have, in the past, appalled family and colleagues by dragging myself into work with a cough to rattle the doors in their frames, a pallor to make Robert Pattinson look tan, and a voice like Paul Robeson. (I’d like to keep the voice.) Why go in? Why spread my germs around, a martyr to a futile cause? Who can participated in a meeting, let alone teach, grade, or, Heaven Forfend! attempt research with a blazing sinus infection / the flu / walking pneumonia.
It could be a newfound maturity, or maybe it’s just exhaustion, but I think the academy can get along fine without my email replies for a day or two, or even three if this flu is as bad as everyone says. My research is not going to advance any for my fevered mistyped rantings on social media and autobiography, less still by my pitiful attempts at holding up a printout to read.
Who said I was so indispensable to … The Institution or The Life Of The Mind that I have to pretend to work when I am clearly not fit?
And yet, I’m sure I’m not the only one to ‘work’ while sick, or to feel awful for cancelling a class to hallucinate at home. Where did we all pick that up?
Forget it. From now on, when I’m sick, I’m sick, and I’m not getting out of my bathrobe until I’m well, or until it starts to smell too bad, or until I drop a glob of jam in the sleeve (okay, that last one happened today, and to be honest, I’m not ready to get out of the bathrobe yet).