Illness and Productivity

stainless steel stethoscope
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It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post. Unfortunately, I have been ill. Not deathly ill, but sick enough that I couldn’t be really productive. I was in bed or on the sofa most of the time, just trying to conserve energy as best as I could. I attempted to write a couple of posts, but my mind was too foggy to think about anything coherent, let alone write about a topic.

Because I live in a cold climate area, I guess it’s to be expected that I would get sick. It started with a slight cold and developed into a cough that just would’t go away. Even now, even after rest and medication, I have not really fully recovered. I am going back to work this week, which makes me feel a little bit anxious. It is the peak of flu season and I will be around a lot of kids. I just hope I don’t sick again.

The fact that being sick made me unproductive made me think about health and work. In my line of work, I really cannot afford to get sick. Because it is difficult to get anyone to cover my lessons on such short notice, I don’t like to call out of work when I’m sick. Also, if we cannot get anyone to cover my lessons, the school would have to cancel all of my lessons, which would put such a strain on all of my students–and I have a lot of students. Also, I just don’t feel comfortable doing that.

It would not only be an inconvenience, but I think my school would also suffer financially. First, we probably have to refund the lesson fees that the students have paid. Second, if the staff has to call all the parents, they would be missing the work that they normally would be doing on any given day. Along with the financial cost, my reputation would also be affected. I don’t want to be known as someone who calls out of work because of a cold.

I know logically that I really shouldn’t be going to work when I’m sick–to prevent others from getting sick and also so that I should get some rest. However, I just don’t think I can call out of work so easily. So I force myself to go to work and just run on adrenaline while I’m at the school. After I am done working, I limp back home and try to recover my strength.

That’s at a personal level.

At a macro level, illness is devastating, particularly for more serious diseases like malaria. In his book, The End of Poverty, Jefferey Sachs writes that malaria is one of the reasons why Africa, as a continent remains poor. Malaria causes a person to get sick and misses out on opportunities to work and earn a living. Not only at the immediate level, but a person struck with malaria will feel the effects even after they have recovered. Sometimes, they will be left so weak that they are unable to work after that. Families then struggle to provide if the main wage-earner cannot work.

It just happened that I was reading this book when I was sick. After reading that, I had to shake the pity party and did my best to get better. I thanked my lucky stars that I live in a country where malaria is unheard of. I am also grateful that I can afford drugs to take care of my illness.

A lot of times, when it comes to personal finance, many people talk about going out to work and earn a high income. Sometimes, though, a lot depends on your health–physically and mentally. It doesn’t really get talked a lot about, but I feel that investing in both is just as important as investing in stocks. After all, without health, you wouldn’t have the ability to earn money.

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