Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Shape He's In

     Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted an entry titled "Sick Man", about the vacation/sick days question? Yeah, it's reared its ugly head again. My husband and I are planning a trip to North Carolina this fall to visit friends and family (he's from Charlotte, while I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO). I put in my request for time off with our boss this past week and was approved. Yay for that!

     I figured that once we had at least one approval in hand, we'd be good to go, because surely the boss would assume that I would like to take my husband with me on my little sojourn. On the day I got my approval, it just so happened that my husband was home sick. Not from anything Marfan's-related, but from a nasty cold, which is a common enough ailment. I texted him the good news and let him know that he should probably go ahead and put in for his time off when he got back to work the next day.

     When the next morning dawned and he wasn't in any better shape than he'd been in the night before, he decided to stay home again. He had to work that damned second job on Saturday and there was no way he could call in, as it was the restaurant's single busiest day of the year, the day of the city's St. Patrick's Day parade. He'd lose his job there for sure if he was a no-show. No big, like I've said before, our workplace is very understanding of illness and has never given him trouble over this. But as I sat at my desk that day, mapping out flights and rental cars for October, I got to thinking - what kind of time does he have to take?

     I posed that very question to our HR person, and as it turned out, the answer was not good. Prior to the two sick days he'd just called in for, my husband had exactly one and a half sick days and no vacation time. This meant that he now had no time whatsoever to use and was in fact already short a half day. Needless to say, this put a significant damper on my enthusiasm. I did some quick math and figured out that at the rate we accrue paid leave, he could earn enough vacation days by the time we were scheduled to set out for North Carolina IF he took not one more sick day from now until October. Um, not likely.

     So what does this mean for us? Well, in terms of being able to actually go, not much. In all likelihood, he'll still get his time off approved because A) he can technically earn that time before we go and B) our boss isn't heartless and has let him go on unpaid leave in the past for things like our wedding weekend. So it's just a matter of  being able to take the hit that's sure to follow his time off. Can we do that? I don't know, it's going to depend on how this summer progresses, financially speaking. I know he's not going to be able to make it seven months without calling in. Hell, I don't know if he can go that long without being in the hospital. It hasn't happened since we've been together, so...

     It seems like such a small thing and I know there are bigger worries to be faced. I know there are lots of people who struggle daily with disorders far more debilitating than Marfan's. I know all this. However, I am a big believer that no matter what you're dealing with, there is always going to be someone in a worse position and that IN NO WAY invalidates your struggle. I used to work disability cases and I would tell claimants this all the time.

     Many of them felt guilty about applying for disability benefits because they felt that their medical issues were not as severe as some others. Well, yeah! There is ALWAYS someone who's sicker, more broken, or in more dire circumstances than you are in. Does that mean you've got a cakewalk on your hands? Um, no.

     So while the shape he's in is currently holding steady (as steady as it ever is), it doesn't mean that we don't have hurdles down the road. It doesn't mean that those hurdles are ever going to stop coming, because they're not. We'll deal with them as they come and keep moving on, because that's the only thing we can do, the only thing we know to do. 




   

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