Healthcare tough-love

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Around our house, taking a sick day is not terribly common place – mostly because we’re blessed that our family is fairly hearty stock. So far, we’ve logged very few days off work or school and even fewer visits to the emergency room. That’s not to say that we are immune to illness, but it seems we’ve missed many of the travails that plague so many families. But even still, we are loath to wave the white flag and surrender to ailment. Unless there is profuse bleeding or a fever that measures so high that there is concern about the efficacy of the thermometer, it feels awkward to claim a day off. It seems embarrassingly weak. It seems like a personal failure.

The question is routinely framed: could we make it to the office? Of course, we probably could. Our productivity might be worthless. Our coworkers would likely be exposed to our germs. And, our judgment might put our employer at risk. But, we could manage to drive in, park and sit at our desk. Would it make more sense if the frame were: should we make it to the office? What value might we hope to bring?

My eldest this week came home early from school – sick. The nurse called and asked that we rescue him from her care. In his 11 years of out-of-home education, we’ve had less than a handful of these calls. It was good that he came home. He needed the care. After a couple of days of rest and starving the fever, he is on the mend. He didn’t need television or cell phones or his favorite foods in bed. How do we encourage one to overcome inconvenience and adversity without excusing them to disregard the messages from their own bodies? Does healthcare tough-love ever make sense?

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