Thursday Thoughts, Wk 2 – Sick Days

It seems that everyone and his brother is sick this time of year; I usually don’t get sick, and I thought I could avoid the plague that is the common cold this time of year, but it seems that I could not. Between everyone in my lab being sick, and public transportation being an incubator for any and every common bacteria and viruses, I fell victim to the common cold. So, I took a sick day today. For most, that’s not a big deal; but I rarely ever take sick days, and now it’s got me thinking about if that’s really a good or a bad thing…

As the stubborn person I am, I don’t usually ever see a doctor unless the sickness persists for more than 3-4 days. I acclimate to it the first day, denying that I’m getting sick. And then spend days 2-4 usually tolerating the symptoms + Tylenol Cold PM-ing the shit out of myself at night until it kicks.

But, this year, I’ve decided to tried something new in my “self care” routine. Since I’m usually in denial about being sick (the few times I am actually sick,) I’ve accumulated an ungodly amount of sick days. Luckily for me, Hopkins distinguishes between vacation and sick days – and they roll over from year to year if they aren’t used. So, I’m sitting on a nice, cushy 10+ sick days I’ve never used.

I feel guilty taking a sick day when I’m not sick; I also feel guilty taking sick days when I’m sick but physically capable of doing things in lab. (You can’t really tele-work in research, so I actually do have to go into work to get work done.)


So here are my questions:

  • Do you ever feel guilty missing out on work even when you’re sick? I know they give you sick days for a reason, but I always feel so terrible ditching
  • Does everyone max out their sick days? I’m often curious (as someone who doesn’t get sick a lot) if people truly get sick enough that they use all of their sick days + I’m noticing each employer has different rules for using them.
  • Do you feel obligated to stay inside/do nothing? I feel like if I take a sick day, it has the connotation that you’re too sick to go into work, therefore, you should be too sick to do other things, like run errands or get out of the house, as well. Thoughts?
  • Mental health days: sick vs. vacation day? Personally, I’m an advocate for using sick days as mental health days — sick days should be for maintaining one’s health, both physically, emotionally, and mentally. 
  • Any tips to help kick the common cold? Send ’em over – I need as much help as I can get!


Until next time, try to stay healthy!



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