Unexpected sick days...

By Katharine Swan On Monday, April 12, 2010 At 1:30 PM

...although "sick" doesn't quite seem to cut it.

I had quite the experience last week. Almost the entire week is a blur to me. I slept for most of it, hardly got any work done, and now I'm paying the price (late bills — since I wasn't coherent enough to pay them — and a backlog of all the work I didn't do). Luckily it was a somewhat slow week, but being out of commission for it still kicked my butt.

The story began three weeks ago from tomorrow, when I burned my hand by accidentally pouring boiling water on it while making tea. (The mug tipped while I was pouring and I reached to catch it, forgetting to stop pouring at the same time.) It hurt for a while that day, but not for all that long. I made a lot of trips to the bathroom to run cold water over it for the first couple of hours, but I popped a couple of ibuprofen and pretty soon it was just a bad memory.

The burn wasn't too bad — it didn't blister, just got crispy and peeled like a sunburn later in the week. All seemed fine. Then I started getting an itchy rash where the peeling had started. I'm not too good at not scratching (or not helping the peeling along, for that matter) so I really went to town on it for the first couple of days. Then I thought better of that, and bought some Lanacane to kill the itch.

Bad idea, as it turns out. A day and a half later, I realized my skin was turning red where I was putting the Lanacane, and my hand was starting to get a bit swollen. Oops — I guess I'm allergic? So I switched to Benadryl and started icing it to take the edge off. I also started sleeping a lot — I thought at the time because of the Benadryl, but now I think probably because the infection was getting worse.

By mid-week, I was sleeping quite a bit — after I got up in the morning, I was taking an extended nap during the day, and then falling asleep again around 9:30 in the evening (highly unusual for me). Needless to say, I wasn't getting much work done. On Thursday I went to the doctor and got a prescription for antibiotics, but not much else (including information). On Friday it was still getting worse, so with my hand roughly twice its normal size and no openings at my doctor's office, I went to the ER. An hour and a half later, with an injection of antibiotics in my butt and two more prescriptions to have filled, I was home again.

The story ends well — the swelling was down on Saturday and completely gone by Sunday. I'm off the Benadryl and back on a more normal sleep schedule. Unfortunately, I have a lot of work to catch up on now — which brings me to my point.

Don't be a last minute freelancer. I'm guilty of it more often than I'd like to admit, as I'm sure many people are, but in cases like this it can really come back to bite you in the butt. This time I lucked out, as I had no looming deadlines (those are all this week) and a relatively light workload. But I still would have been much better off if I'd worked ahead the previous week, when I had the opportunity.

What about you? Do you work ahead, or tend to complete projects just under the wire? And has it ever come back to haunt you?

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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