Sunday, February 07, 2010

Vivi gets the flu

Oh dear. And the worst possible timing, too.

Fry has been sick for a couple of weeks now, with the perpetual running nose. His nounou's daughter, who also stays home, caught the flu and was pretty much paralyzed by it: she basically slept all day for about three or four days. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Fry would get it too.

Of course, when Fry gets the flu, it just means that despite running a fever and loss of appetite, he still runs, just slower. The other problem is that Fry loves to share his microbes with Mommy.

As much as I love encouraging my son to share, he couldn't have done it at a worse time. One of my colleagues quit last week, leaving me and my boss to run the whole show. Last Wednesday I had off, but by the end of the day my fever was bouncing between 102.5 and 100 (39C and 38C) and I was in pain everywhere. Since Fry was still sick after seeing the doctor a week before, we both saw the doctor Thursday morning. He gave both of us a nice long list of medicines and then we had to talk about arret maladie.

Arret maladie, or sick leave, is basically a doctor's note that excuses you from work but still maintain your salary. As you can imagine, it's a perk of the French system that is easily abused (my company is currently paying someone that's been on arret maladie for months, the problem is that the direction has changed two or three times since he went on sick leave and no one knows where he is or even why he's on leave). All you have to do is find a doctor willing to put you on sick leave for "rest" and your're golden. Of course, even if the doctor has put on the form that you're allowed to leave your house, you're still supposed to be home between the hours of 9am and 11am and 2pm and 4pm, but it's rare that anyone actually calls to check up on you.

So, as sick as I was, I felt a little guilty about going on sick leave, essentially leaving my boss to run the entire show by himself. Stéphane had told me that Dr H has a reputation in our town for being very strict about giving out sick leave (and now I understand why he's always available! ugh, this town, I tell you...) so I was really surprised when he gave me four days off! I even asked if I could go back to work after two days and he insisted.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was calling my boss and telling him I was on sick leave. He assured me it was fine, but I still feel really guilty about leaving him like that for four days. My guilt was softened a little yesterday when I still had a fever and I'd completely lost my voice, but I'm still not thrilled about it.

Finally today I think I'll be fever-free and I can feel the symptoms finally starting to fade. I'm so grateful that I have a doctor that gave me the appropriate time off because I probably would have gone back to work on Saturday and made myself worse (Stéphane is always saying that I don't know how to rest, and he's right, I often don't rest when I need it most unless I'm forced to). Tomorrow I'll be back at work, still a little sick but not so much as to pass it on to my boss. Because I sure as hell don't want to run that place for four days alone!


La Rêveuse said...

Oh, honey. I am so sorry. And you are sooooo American. ;-) I know what you mean, but you're right--you don't want to pass this on. Consider it not only taking care of yourself, but preventing the spread to others. It's hard, we're not raised to admit weakness. But admitting it is a strength!

Looking forward to seeing more of you on here in the next few days, if you're up to it. Bisous!

laanba said...

Can you imagine a system like that in the US? I can't, but how wonderful. I'm a teacher and we are some of the worst ones about dragging ourselves to work even when we are sick because it is so much harder to be absent. We never, NEVER, give ourselves the appropriate days of rest here.

Vivi said...

Thanks Mrs B. ;) I actually go back to work tomorrow, and I'll probably still be weak and slow, but I'm grateful for the forced rest!

laanba, believe me when I tell you I understand: Stéphane will, 9 times out of 10, go to work anyway without going to see the doctor. I don't know if it's a man thing or a teacher thing, though!

ashleyenfrance said...

I actually think that your work doesn't need to know the reason why you are off. On the form you send into work the 'reason' isn't mentioned. Most of the time though if you have a good relationship with your work you do let them know though... Our doctor is also strict about giving out sick leave so you know when he gives it to you to park your butt on the couch or in bed for a few days!
Hope you are back on your feet soon!

Vivi said...

ashley, you're totally right, it isn't even on the form! Since my boss already knew my son had the flu, it would have been a logical conclusion anyway, and since we are only two now I don't see any reason to hide it. But if you're working in a cubicle farm or something I can see not mentioning it as a form of privacy.

Karla said...

WE have a similar sick leave system here in norway, and people abuse it rampantly. One woman at my work was a temp worker who worked all the time (no sick leave as a temp and paid by hour), got her permanent contract, and suddenly, without warning, went on sick leave within a month. She was gone for 6 months. Then got pregnant (against doctor recomendation), more sick leave, and then maternity leave. She has been out of the office for over 2 years now, on the company dime, because her doctor just keeps writing her off. No one has heard from her and she doesn't even live in Southern Norway anymore! She sure does post to Facebook a lot though, and looks perfectly healthy.
I HATE that.