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When sickness puts life in
perspective - Jason Smith

Last week was one of the longest of my life. I was not feeling well, and any of the everyday frustrations I had were compounded by my illness.

It all started late last Sunday night. I went to bed, not feeling great, but hoping the moment would pass.

That didn't quite happen, of course. I woke up Monday around 4 a.m., and I could barely move or function. I was coughing, I could barely breathe, and I was wavering between burning up and freezing.

It became apparent, very quickly, that I would have to do the unthinkable, and call into work.

Typically, I hate calling in sick. I always feel like I'm letting everyone down by admitting that I am not Superman, and that I have to take care of myself, before I can take care of anyone or anything else.

Last week, however, was a different story entirely. When faced with the idea that I would need to call the office, I didn't put up a fight. I picked up the phone, made the call - complete with a voice that made me sound like Elmer Fudd from those old Bugs Bunny cartoons - hung up and went back to bed.

I had hoped, rather irrationally, that I would be well enough to go to work Tuesday, but I felt even worse when I woke up that day. My wife informed me, in no uncertain terms, that I would be going to the doctor, and not to work.

Again, strangely enough, I didn't argue with her. Even though I knew being out of work for two days in a row would put me further behind once I returned to the office, I knew I had to take care of myself.

Normally, I rail against going to the doctor for anything, but since I was feeling worse than I had in years, any sense of pride I had was long gone by the time we made the appointment.

I tested negative for strep throat, but it seemed like I had just about everything else. When my doctor handed me my prescription, I again refrained from whining. Instead, I ate my soup, I took my pills and I went to bed early.

The hardest part of the whole ordeal, for me wasn't the coughing or the sneezing, or even being out of work. It was the fact that, while I was sick, some friends at my church were dealing with the loss of their father. He had died of cancer.

I wanted to be there for the family, and to show my support. However, deep down, I knew that if I had gone to the funeral home, or the service the following day, I would have been going so that people didn't wonder where I was, and think badly of me for not being there. So, I prayed for the family, kept them in my thoughts, and focused on getting better.

Some might read this, and be under the impression that I'm growing as a person. The truth is, I was just that sick.

It's taken a few days, but I think I'm back to full strength now. I'm a firm believer in the idea that everything that happens to us is designed to teach us something. And so, I've taken a few lessons from this experience.

I've learned that stubbornness - i.e., refusing to go to the doctor - doesn't always equal strength. I've learned that taking medicine doesn't mean I'm weak. I've learned that the best way to make sure I can meet the needs of another, is to first make sure they don't have to worry about me.

I've also learned that I still hate taking medicine, but I hate whining about it even worse.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161, or via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.