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Juno’s May Blog 2021

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As I am sat here looking furtively at the Lateral Flow Test that is developing on my bedside table (it will be negative I know) I am pondering on ‘sick leave’ having noted that some companies will be offering Duvet Days or Planned Hangover Days to their staff (there’s a staff wellbeing health and safety message waiting to be tested in court….sanctioned alcohol poisoning anyone?).

The thing is – sick leave is sick leave and duvet days really are days off aren’t they?

Annual leave?

The thing you are entitled to anyway and can book in advance?

What if I don’t want a Duvet Day? What if I want a ‘running with the dog along the beach day’ Do I have to book something different?

Isn’t this all getting a little complicated and un-necessary?

The reason this is occupying my mind so much is that today I have a cold.

I do not have COVID, or any variant thereof.

I just have a rough throat, cotton wool legs, a voice like Mariella Frostrup (it’s not all bad….) and an impending sense of doom in my lungs.

But I cannot go into work as I have to have a negative PCR first regardless of what my lateral flow says. Hoist by my own rules…..

And anyway I do feel a bit rubbish.

But – for managers…a day off sick is not really a day to relax and get well.

It is a day to sit up in bed feeling snotty, panicky and mildly toxic with a laptop balanced precariously on your knees, an open pack of paracetamol to hand and a large glass of water being constantly topped up.

Oh and two mobile phones taking turns with the charger plugged into where your bedside lamp normally goes.

It is a day to wish you could just curl up and forget everything to heal and recover when actually you have to move meetings, prioritise crises into ‘must deal with now or the world will end’ and ‘can just about be left til tomorrow only it will take twice as long to deal with then’.

What is it about a good crisis that it cooks into something even bigger and chewier if left? Rather like dough rising and falling over the sides of the bowl and slopping all over the floor where the dog eats it and gets constipation…..

Then there is the reverse engineering of the ‘urgent’ list that was at the top of today’s to-do list.

What of that can safely be done by someone with a faintly fuzzy mind badly in need of sleep and what really should be left for a steadier hand.

Then there is the bit where you try and move a perfectly good meeting to another point in the week where it jostles with the meetings already in there and you begin to realise that you had better hold off the coffee that day as there will be no comfort breaks.

And then you panic a little more, the anxiety rises…and the stress coughing starts!

Yay coughing – my old friend, where were you? Come join the party. You’re late.

And so the day draws on, you try and feel a sense of fulfilment with every task you manage to achieve but then you realise you have double booked three meetings, you missed a critical part of that finance email you replied to making you look at best scatterbrained and at worst dodgy and your phone was on silent overnight while you lay staring at the ceiling longing to be well, and now you have 5 missed calls.

And why is it when our body is trying to repair, our mind seems unable to treat life with a sense of perspective. Everything is blown out of all proportion, that missed email becomes a monumental mistake and the rest of the week looks like some kind of sponsored workathon that you won’t get to the end of in one piece as you crawl broken and exhausted over the finishing line that is Friday (or not – as we are open 24/7).

All us managers want to do when we are ill, is be ill.

A single task that we would like to complete with our usual task-oriented care and attention.

What we would give for a soothing voice to say ‘it’s fine, it can all wait, I’ll sort that out for you – now off you go to sleep, I’ll wake you at three for a spot of chamomile tea and a bun…..’.

But that is not what this job is. It can’t be. It doesn’t work that way.

I am lucky, I work with a terrific team and I know that if I say ‘I just can’t cope’ they will step in.

And it will all be ok in the end, it usually is, one way or another.

Maybe we should plan our sick days – a note in the outlook diary ‘no bookings today, I am planning a mild cough.’

Now excuse me, I have to go swap phones and fill up my water glass.