I'm a PGY3 resident and my one year old baby has her first cold. I'm sick too. She's congested and can't sleep for more than about 30 minutes at a time. At 4AM, I realize that between being very sick and getting zero sleep, I don't know how I'm going to get through a busy clinic that day. I decide to text message the chief resident that I'm sick and won't be in that day, as well as sending an email.
The next morning, I wake up to a furious email from the chief, saying that my text woke her up and now she (also sick) has to cover my clinic after being woken up. I was inconsiderate on not one but two counts. (Had I not woken her up, I'm sure I would have somehow been yelled at for not letting them know soon enough.)
Later that year, I get tracheitis (whatever that is). I can't talk more than a few words. I come to work, but get sent home midday by my attending. I call the new chief to tell him I'm going to stay home the next day. I don't have anything even scheduled and was just supposed to "help out" with extra consults. "Well," he says, "I can dock you for the half day you took off today and a full day tomorrow. But the problem is, you can't take off more than six weeks in a year or else you have to make it up."
"Are you serious?" I'm baffled. "This is my second sick day. Do you have me recorded as taking off more days than that?"
"I'm just warning you."
Eventually, you get the message. Never call in sick. You get trained, like a dog or a seal.
I feel like now I need somebody to tell me when it's appropriate to take a sick day. In the past, before I got "trained," I took sick days when I needed to, sometimes more readily than I should have. Now I've gone too far in the other direction. There's a balance between being responsible about your job and ignoring family/health issues. When I tell someone that my child has a fever of 102 and is throwing up, yet I'm at work, it's almost a little embarrassing. Where are my priorities?
Recently, I had a pretty serious family emergency, and although I came to work, I left early. Unfortunately, I had a meeting in the afternoon where my presence was crucial. When I talked to the attending coordinating the meeting, I explained the situation and he said he'd have to cancel the meeting.
"Oh god, I feel awful about that!" I said. "Maybe I should just go to the meeting."
The attending looked at me like I was out of my mind. "Fizzy, stop it! You're being ridiculous. We'll just reschedule."
I felt grateful but also really ashamed over the decision I almost made.