Health & wellbeing

The soloist’s sick day

- February 4, 2013 2 MIN READ

In my old corporate life, taking a sick day meant making a single phone call to my boss telling her I wouldn’t be in the office, and asking her to handle anything urgent.

After that, I’d be free to feel sorry for myself in bed until I felt well enough to loll about on the couch watching Oprah and Ellen do their thing. If I needed to think about anything at all, it was recovering.

That little luxury is one of the things we give up when we embark on a life of soloism.

Yesterday, at precisely 3.41am, I was visited by a nasty bout of food poisoning.

We all know what that involves, so I’ll spare you the gory details. In short, I felt wretched.

As if the physical effects weren’t enough, I was also plagued by worries about how I was going to tackle my work commitments for the day. I even had tormented nightmares about letting my clients down!

By the time the sun came up, it was clear that working was very far from being an option.

Cue a series of five apologetic messages to clients, four re-negotiated deadlines, and three re-scheduled meetings – one with a new client (ugh… not a good look at all!).

Even worse? All of this via the highly professional medium of text message; I simply couldn’t trust myself to get through a phone call without needing to run to the bathroom in the middle of it.

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By about 12 hours after it started, my tummy bug had burnt itself out, and I could almost believe that some day it might be possible for me to feel human again. That’s about the time I would once have migrated from my bed to the couch for a spell of trashy TV viewing.

But no. Instead it was straight to the laptop to finalise a project for the one client whose deadline couldn’t be pushed back, despite the fact I still felt decidedly ordinary.

The whole sorry saga made me realise that where once I treated a sick day as a right, these days I consider it a luxury – and one I can ill afford. It made me extremely grateful for my (generally!) good health, and had me in awe of those soloists I know who manage to gracefully run their businesses while also dealing with chronic health problems.

How do you handle ill health as a soloist? Please share your experiences.