Monday, February 28, 2011

Sick Man

     It broke my heart this past weekend to have to tell my husband that, from now on, he can only call in sick if he's really, really sick or we're en route to the ER. I shouldn't have had to do that. I felt like a wretched person for doing it, for even bringing it up. Never mind that the reason I did was so that we'd be able to take a vacation this summer to visit friends in North Carolina. It doesn't matter why I did it, the fact remains that it felt absolutely horrible to do it and I know he felt bad that I even had to say it. God, that's frustrating.
   
     Once again, our workplace is pretty generous in the benefits it allows its employees. I myself have never gone through my allotted sick days and I know that's the case with most of my co-workers as well. Granted, you're going to get the odd case of someone coming down with pneumonia or some freak thing like that, but those instances are few and far between. Last year, my husband not only used up every sick day he had, but also went through all his vacation time as well. And this happened BEFORE we found out he had to be out of work for two weeks for what should have been a minor outpatient surgery.

     Last fall, exactly one month to the day before our wedding, my husband underwent surgery to repair an abdominal hernia. These are common enough, though his was likely a result of the Marfan's weakening his muscle  wall. For 99% of people, it's a simple procedure, done laproscopically and on an outpatient basis. Take a few days off work, make sure not to do any heavy lifting when you do go back, done and done. Um, not for him.

     He had to prepare by going off his Coumadin and instead using an injectable blood-thinner called Lovenox. This was done so that he'd actually clot when they cut into him. (I'm not saying he's a hemophiliac or anything, but the boy's blood is more like red Kool-Aid sometimes than actual blood.) He had to stay overnight so they could monitor him and he was out of work for the next two weeks, because he doesn't heal like most people do. It was kind of a mess.

     In preparing for his time away, it was discovered that he only had 2 paid days left to use. Ugh. All his recovery time would be unpaid, thus leaving us a paycheck short for that pay-period. Our current economic state does not allow for things like a missing paycheck, but we had no choice. It's not like we could opt out of getting him repaired. And for the rest of the year, he just had to take an unpaid day if he needed to call in.

     What got me thinking about all this was when I saw his most recent paycheck stub and saw that he's once again used up his allotted sick days. Now, he'll accrue more as the year goes on, but only if he's, um, AT WORK to accrue them! So I had to tell him, if you want to be able to go out east this summer (and we both really, really want to) you have to make sure not to call in unless you're bleeding from your eyeballs or something similarly horrific. Which really means, "I'm sorry, baby, but you're going to have to work through the pain."

     And yeah, I know, lots of people do just that on a daily basis, just to get by. I feel for them and their families, for doing what they have to do. But I'm also worried that by working through the pain, my husband's going to break something the doctors can't repair. What then? Is it worth trying to save his paid sick days for when he truly needs it at the risk of pushing himself? But then, what if he runs out again and we end up short on money to, you know, keep the roof over our head and things of that nature? I'm trying so hard to figure out what's the right choice for my family and I just don't know.

1 comment:

Ms. B said...

Hello again - still reading the blog. Thanks for posting it. I too had to work through my pain at work until low and behold I had a aortic dissectiion. At the time, I had only been on my job for a year. That was the first of SEVERAL surgeries and I am now out on permanent social security disability. I'll keep reading, but I hope that you and your husband consider ssdi. Also, if your job offers short and long term disability. It helps.