Working when Sick

No one wants to get ill. Be it a cold, a stomach bug, or some other nefarious virus, writing (and doing standard work) while sick isn't fun. It's hard. Medications can slow the wits. The illness can create cotton-ball-in-head syndrome. Coughing, sniffling, and all of the other joys of the common cold can instantly derail any and all motivation to work.

I'm currently infected with a common, although nasty, cold. I'm also in the middle of a rather notable deadline. Reports from friends who have gotten this beast state I'll be miserable for approximately ten days.

Considering ten days from now is approximately the amount of time I have to conclude my edits and send to the lady handling my formatting, I can't afford to take those days off to rest, to heal, and get over this cold. I have to push through the symptoms, keep my act together, and work.

Not only do I have to work, I have to produce my highest-quality work.

The timing could have been better.

A lot better.

So, how am I handling this cold and working? I wish I could say I had a magic cure-all solution. I don't. I'm avoiding the cold medications, especially the ones responsible for making one dizzy. It's easier to triumph over pain than it is to triumph over mind-altering medications. And yes, any medication which triggers dizziness and ‘cotton-ball-in-head' syndrome is mind altering. The simple explanation (from what I understand) is that these medications tweak with the body's ability to perceive pain. That's a part of your central nervous system, IE, your mind. Mess with that, and your other cognitive abilities will likely go to the wayside and giggle in the ditch.

Not conducive for getting work done.

Cough drops and on-site numbing agents are the main tricks I'm using to keep functional. These two medications treat the more serious symptoms (pain in throat and coughing) without sacrificing my ability to think. Sure, I'm in pain. Hot tea and other beverages help sooth and get the congestion moving without having to rely on medications that can sacrifice my ability to think.

Is it pleasant?


Does it work?

So far, so good.

Making myself as comfortable as possible while I'm working is important, although I know the symptoms aren't going to magically go away until the cold dies and takes its misery to the grave with it.

At the end of it all, I'm able to work because I'm determined to work. I could wuss out. I could go crawl into bed and stay there all day. I have taken strategic naps and many, many hot baths to ease symptoms so I could get a burst of hard work in.

There is no simple way to do it, but if you have to work while sick, I really recommend you avoid a lot of the medications out there designed to mask your symptoms. (They don't cure colds. They just hide the symptoms so you're not as miserable while your immune system does the rest.)

Is it fun? Hell no.

Not fun at all.

If possible, taking a day or three off to recover is best, but if you can't, stay hydrated, work hard but in short bursts, and keep chugging along. Progress will be made if you keep working at it, even if you're working slower than you'd like.

And don't be afraid to sacrifice low-priority things in order to get the important stuff done. (As some of you have noticed, Zero hasn't been done this week yet. With this cold, I'm focusing on the more important work. I should have an update of Zero sometime soon. Maybe tonight? Hopefully. If not tonight, tomorrow or Saturday. It'll come.)

For now, I'm going back to work.

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