First, we go into denial. No, my head is not hotter than the Sonoran Desert. No, my brain does not feel like a vise is squeezing it from all sides. No, I don’t have chills, you do.
Next, we move into acceptance. Accept that you’re sick and make those sub plans while you still have at least one iota of a brain cell still functioning. Accept that you’ll have to make a sub plan, accept that you’ll have to email colleagues to make sure said sub plans arrive where they need to be, copies have been made, and supplies are available for the guest teacher (also known as the sub).
After acceptance comes anxiety. What if the sub doesn’t arrive? What if the students are confused? What if there aren’t enough copies? What if the plans I wrote up in a nyquil-induced haze make absolutely no sense? What if students are bored in class and it is my fault for not creating the best sub plan ever? What if I don’t end up grading that big stack of papers I meant to grade but now I’m too sick to read?
After anxiety hits, reality arrives, in the form of cute emails from students telling you to feel better, drink tea, cuddle your cats. And the odd question or two (are these assignments due at the end of the period? do we have to read these aloud when we finish?) may actually show up in email, but nothing earth-shattering or shocking. No news that your classroom caught on fire or that your students rebelled en masse and walked out. And so you continue to snuggle in your blanket, sipping ginger-ale, petting your cats, whilst fading in and out of consciousness and only sort of watching daytime television.
Finally, as the flu drains from your system, so, too, does the anxiety, the worry, they unrealistic scenarios of what might have happened when we were out. We wake up, go in to school after a day (or two) of being out sick, and discover, to our delight or chagrin, that the world did not stop when we were out sick. A few students may confess they are glad to see me, and a few students may wish I were out one more day.
And, as Kurt Vonnegut so elegantly put it, “so it goes.”
Image of the snapchat sticker I used most on the days I was out sick.