It’s common sense and good manners to stay home when you are sick (or keep your child home)… cold, flu, stomach bug, etc. A lot of people choose to “power through” or “tough it out” and go to work, attend school or make an appearance at a social/family gathering. But I beg you, please don’t do it.
Just stay home.
Not only is staying home better for your recovery, it helps stop whatever you’ve got from spreading. It can also keep others out of the hospital. What gets me all riled up is that people will go places with “just a little cold” or “a touch of the flu” and expose people like me (i.e. those with broken immune systems) to potentially life-threatening illnesses.
That’s right, your little illness can harm others.
As a person living with type 1 diabetes, I actually live in fear of getting illnesses that others believe to be common and minor. My body doesn’t, and can’t, heal as quickly as others. And beyond the symptoms of a common cold or flu, I have to deal with blood sugar levels that will skyrocket.
You see, when you’re sick, your liver releases extra glucose to give your body energy to fight off the illness. Since a healthy pancreas can match that by producing insulin your body can turn it into energy. Since I can’t make my own, I have to struggle with the unknown amounts of glucose and will always be behind it to dose with insulin. I have to give corrections and run temp basals and try my best. But I will lose the blood sugar battle, it’s always a losing fight with sick-day blood sugars. So the glucose builds up in my blood stream and causes additional problems such as dehydration in the short term, ketones in the mid-term and increasing my risk of complications (neuopathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, heart problems, etc) in the long term. If I end up with ketones and can’t get rid of them with more insulin and a lot of water, I risk ketoacidosis, something that I never want to experience again in my life. Ketoacidosis will put me back in the hospital on an IV drip for fluids and potentially insulin and potassium with doctors and nurses who probably won’t understand my insulin pump or CGM and may not let me check my own bg on my own meter… not to mention the hospital bill.
Sounds dramatic, right? It gets better…
If there’s vomiting involved, it adds a whole new set of problems with adequately dosing insulin to cover food. When you throw up, do you completely throw up everything you ate recently or did some of it get digested and turned into energy? Yeah, I don’t know either.
Also, the foods you eat when you’re sick? Things like bread, crackers, applesauce, bananas, gatorade, etc? Those all have a significant number of carbs in them. Over the counter medications for symptoms? I can’t take acetominaphen for fever and still use my CGM. Cough syrup has loads of sugar in it, the “diabetic” stuff tastes far worse and anything that might put me out makes me risk not waking up to a CGM or phone alarm to check my blood sugar to keep fighting the rise. Plus, sugar free cough drops and diabetic cough syrup are more expensive and harder to come by than the regular stuff.
This post makes me sound like a drama queen, but when you come near me while you’re sick you put me at risk for a lot of horrible things.
So do everyone around you a favor and stay home. Sick days exist for a reason, many companies will let you work from home as well. And family gatherings? Sure, everyone will miss you, but they’ll appreciate you not sharing illness.
Even if you aren’t ill, remember that practicing good hygiene can help reduce your risk, that includes washing your hands regularly, not touching your eyes/nose/mouth and cleaning things that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs and keyboards.
How do you stay healthy this time of year?