I'm back! I've been off for more than a week, burning up extra vacation time left over from 2008. And I've learned an important lesson: don't take time off unless you have plans! It can be a recipe for disaster.
I've been all over the Internet lately, during my time off, not looking for the best brunch spot in the exotic city I'm visiting, but looking for the length of time a typical stomach flu is contagious. Yeah, yeah I know it's not the flu, but that's sort of what people commonly call that stomach thing that goes around this time of year. I can't remember the last time I ... well, yes I can, it was April, 1996 (these things leave an impression!) so I figured I'd bone up on what to expect as I sweated it out. I looked at my computer until I saw my Mom log on at around 5:30 a.m., and I called her!
My Mom told me to stay home for one day extra after I feel better, and most advice on the internet is that you're contagious for up to 72 hours after you start feeling sick. One blurb from the Mayo Clinic even says you remain contagious for two WEEKS! I don't think I can use that as an excuse to stay home from work for that long, though.
Amazingly, the minute I started to feel better, it was Sunday afternoon and time to start thinking about work on Monday. Now that I have been sick twice already this year, I'm hyper aware of everything around me that could take me down. Here is some advice on staying healthy in a busy workplace. The bottom line is, after the usual stuff about eating right and exercising to boost your immune system, to be a clean freak! Alcohol wipes and antibacterial hand lotion doesn't seem that crazy when you're flat on your back sick.
I remember a few years ago I was interviewing L.A. County Health Department's Dr. Jonathan Fielding and he congratulated me for sneezing into the inside of my elbow. I looked at him bewildered (my hands were full of microphone and notepad; I had no choice) and he told me it's better than sneezing into your hands and then touching things and spreading it everywhere. I also noticed he smiled and nodded when we were done with the interview. Handshakes are so overrated during cold and flu season.
Makes you think, maybe that fist bump will catch on in the business world.
Anyway, I have another week off coming up, and this time I'm going to the beach for a fabulous vacation. I promise I'll write about that when I come back ... and have something a little more uplifting to write about tomorrow! Now -- wipe down your keyboard! (and don't forget your mouse!)