Monday, October 08, 2007

The ICU Makes Me Sick

The evening after my last post was entirely uneventful. I made frozen pizza for dinner, my hubby and I watched TV, I blogged, I checked many blogs, and then went to bed. I coughed some, but then I can't really stop coughing. (For some unknown reason, my asthma has turned into "moderate persistent", with daily symptoms, for the past month and a half, despite being "mild intermittent" for years. I can't tell if it's a URI or not, and therefore I don't know if I should fill the Z-pack I was given as an "emergency" script or not.) It really wasn't a special evening.

Until I woke up at midnight and re-experienced the frozen pizza.

After a mostly sleepless night, I called in sick, notifying my nurse practitioner ("the boss"), my attending, my course coordinators, and my course director (all at 5 am--impressive!). Then, I slept till noon.

During my third year of med school, I went to work sick several times. It's something of an expectation that third year med students will not miss work. I did call in "sick" (ie, played hookie) once while on family medicine (and agonized about it for DAYS, I'm terrible at that sort of thing).

As a fourth year, I no longer have any qualms about staying home from work when I'm sick. I called in once last month because of the asthma/URI crud that hasn't gone away (it's been a month and a half!) On this occasion, I wasn't sure if I was done with the ickiness, and I figured that a) I didn't need to be around ICU patients and b) ICU patients didn't need to be around me.

When I went back to work, I felt better, but I still had the sniffles and the cough. Since these were noticeable, everyone assumed that this was why I'd stayed home. Since then, most of my ICU team has come down with some form of cough/sore throat/runny nose/sniffles, and they blame me, despite my frequent hand-washing and obsessive use of hand sanitizer. A friend called me "a walking fomite" today.

Never mind that we're surrounded by patients with every drug-resistant bacterium known to man, I get blamed for the creeping URI. Oh, well.


Caroline said...

Good for you. I flipping HATE IT when people come to work sick, and I don't even have hospital experience yet. (Corporate America only.) The thing that really got me was the woman who sat 6 inches behind me and got UNLIMITED sick days (as par the company we worked for) still insisted on coming to work with this horrible hacking cough and even a mild fever. To top it off, she had already been setup to work from home but for whatever reason, coming into the office was just "too important." Bah humbug. I got sick about a week later and took 4 days off. So I'm with you. Absolutely NO compunction about calling in...ESPECIALLY when I start working in a hospital.

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

Hey Tiny Shrink,
Thanks a ton for giving me microbio info! I keep googling the terms, but I find so many conflicting views that I'm never totally sure what is the accurate information.

Hope you are feeling better soon! My roomies work in the ICU, and they're both sick as dogs -- I keep praying they don't have some kind of antibiotic-resistant bug that I could pick up right before the looming midterms!