I am sick. Do I cancel these gigs (freelancer/self-employed person)
February 13, 2017 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I am a self-employed person, I am sick (Wuth what i think is some sort of cold or flu). I have some work in the next couple days I'd rather not cancel. But am I being crazy to do this?

I feel prety sick today. I had a cough that has gotten worse over the past couple of days, and I think I have a fever of around 100.6 Today I feel very fatigued.

The nature of my work, for some of what I do, is that I kind of need to be there, and there's no real fallback if I can't make it.

I have a couple of commitments in the next 2 days:

1) A not super-important meeting (already cancelled)

2) Teaching the final meeting of a 6-week class that 20 people have signed up for. (tonight. Would really rather not cancel/reschedule, but I guess could if I want)

3) Flying to Miami (from Toronto) early on Wednesday morning, to deliver a talk on Thursday) This talk represents something between 5% and 10% of my income for the whole year. If I don't go I don't get paid. I'd hate to miss that just for what turns out to be a cold. I'd also hate to let down the speakers bureau who are counting on me to be there.

Usually, when I'm sick like this, I just power through it, and it works out okay.

I worry a bit, I guess about a couple of things:

- I worry that it might be unwise to do air travel to another country when I'm sick. (both because of hours on a plane, and also because of no insurance there)

- I worry that teaching the class tonight might interfere with my speedy recovery to be okay to fly on Wednesday.

Is there any way I can get more information to help inform my decision? Any way I can get diagnosed to find out what I might have? Anything else?

My health background is this: I'm in my late 40's. In general I am in very good health. Our toddler just started daycare a few months ago, so we are getting a lot of bugs.

Looking for any advice on how to best make these decisions...

(I have gotten in tuch with my GP, but getting a fast answer from a doctor is not always so easy...)
posted by ManInSuit to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would cancel tonight immediately, and see how you feel tomorrow about flying on Wednesday. Please don't get other people sick if you don't have to.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:03 AM on February 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

I had to teach a course through a bout of bronchitis. I got through a small mountain of Halls lemon-honey throat pastilles, but I did it. You can too.
posted by zadcat at 8:06 AM on February 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

cancel tonight and power through big talk.
posted by pando11 at 8:11 AM on February 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I would cancel everything else in order to rest and try to recover as best you can for the big talk because that is clearly the priority in terms of your actual income. Then bomb yourself with Nyquil for as long as possible and wear one of those face mask things on the plane because you're a good citizen.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:13 AM on February 13, 2017 [8 favorites]

What happens to your symptoms when you take something like a Tylenol Cold & Flu tablet? If you can tamp down your symptoms to a tolerable level, you should still be able to manage these things.

You might also want to ask your Speaker's Bureau what they recommend when the choice is between giving a potentially sub-par talk and finding a last minute replacement. Is there even a last minute replacement that could be available?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:15 AM on February 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's hard to be at your best in front of an audience if you're feverish and leaking snot. With plain-vanilla flulike symptoms, though, it's not unreasonable to just see how you feel. I wouldn't necessarily cancel anything that's a few days out just yet if it's important to you.
posted by killdevil at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2017

Best answer: Don't forget that you can get travel insurance from Blue Cross or something:


I say Blue Cross because whenever I travel outside of Canada, that's who I go with. There are tons of other organizations that offer travel insurance, though.

My thought is to cancel everything and make the effort for Wednesday/Thursday. Definitely try various cold pills -- I tend to pick DayQuil, personally -- and see how that helps (or not). Definitely do what you can on the plane to prevent others from getting sick.

Make sure you have cough drops and such for the actual presentation!

Good luck, hope you feel better soon!
posted by juliebug at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Neither Nyquil nor Tylenol cold should u be wasting your time with...nuke it from orbit with Thera-flu (do not attempt to be upright while taking Thera-flu)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:41 AM on February 13, 2017

Ugh, I'm sorry you're so sick. I will say that I had similar symptoms and tried to power through and ended up needing a multiple week absence from work because I pushed way too hard. YMMV but not taking care of yourself can have serious repurcussions.
posted by sockermom at 8:41 AM on February 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Dayquil is ok for when u need to be vertical)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:42 AM on February 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Personally I would still do the class and talk and outsource absolutely everything else. Take taxis, but/order food, task rabbit someone to get you medicine, etc. I would sleep, sleep, sleep through everything else and take all the medication I could until Wednesday.

Now if you still need to do class prep for tonight or prep for the presentation I would cancel the class tonight and do whatever needed to happen to make the presentation.

I'm a teacher and I HATE having to reschedule.

I hope you feel better soon!
posted by raccoon409 at 8:58 AM on February 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'd load up on meds and see how I feel. I generally go with real pseudoephedrine for a bad cold and even though it can make me a bit buzzy, I'd rather feel that than awful, especially if I had to be presentable.

If you really think you have the flu you could also conceivably try going on some sort of Tamiflu or antiviral immediately if your doctor can call in a prescription. It could conceivably help by Wednesday.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:11 AM on February 13, 2017

I'm sorry, but part of being self-employed and making paid commitments is that if you are not in a hospital and it cannot be re-scheduled, you need to be there. I vomited Friday, vomited Saturday morning, fainted at set-up on Saturday afternoon, and ran a charity event Saturday night. My concession was cancelling my hair and face appointment and going home to lie down for two hours instead. I looked like shit but I was there and did my thing.

This is not me saying I'm great; this is me saying it absolutely sucks and you just do it anyway.

Reschedule the class, get in bed, rest up, fly out. Do nothing at the event that is optional; stay in your hotel bed and sleep as much as you need to until it is time to get up, get to the venue and do your thing, go back to bed and fly home.

I am very sympathetic about how much it sucks when this happens.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:02 AM on February 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

My daytime cocktail for cold/flu symptoms: pseudoephedrine, 800mg ibuprofen and a gram of Tylenol. That is a maximal safe version of the meds you get inside the prepackaged cold and flu remedies sold OTC at the pharmacy (though the prepackaged OTC remedies have the lesser phenylephrine and not pseudoephedrine in them these days -- Sudafed is a meth precursor and is now sold behind the counter on its own). You can safely take those doses 3x a day provided you do not have high blood pressure and your liver and kidneys are normal.
posted by killdevil at 10:13 AM on February 13, 2017

I would do both the class and the travel lecture unless you're literally vomiting at the time. It sucks, but that is the nature of not having anyone to cover for you.

Engage in extreme hand washing and wear one of those masks on the plane in case you do have a nasty bug, to keep from passing it to everyone around you.
posted by ktkt at 10:31 AM on February 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sleep till Wednesday, fly to Miami and sleep some more.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:32 AM on February 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Get well soon:
Skip the class, take drugs, eat soup, and sleep as much as you can, so you can do the Miami thing.

Keep your strength up:
Try to eat more than you want to eat while you're recovering, because otherwise the weak limp hunger of having been sick and under-eating for a few days will slow your bounce-back to normal. I personally find beef is my best sick-food, eaten in a hot bowl of pho, spicy thai soup, or congee. Juice is good for calories, too. Order in, liberally, and eat as much as you reasonably can. Drink lots of water. A warm shower will probably make you feel better too, even if you don't really want one.

Be well in Miami:
Take lots of drugs and make sure you have heath insurance (your credit card might have some, or maybe you can buy some short-term travel insurance).

Keep others well while travelling:
Wash your hands or use sanitizer every hour when you travel. Wear a surgical face mask on the plane if you're coughing a lot, or pull open the neck of your sweater, put your mouth down into the neck, and cough downwards into your torso, so your sweater keeps the germs from spraying / getting on your hands.

I always find I feel much worse on day 1&2 of a cold or flu, and typically worst of all first thing in the morning. You will likely feel a lot better by Wednesday afternoon. Feel better soon!

One more thing:
Maybe get in the habit of washing your toddler's hands, arms to the elbows, and face, as soon as you walk in the door from daycare- remove as many extra germs as you can.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:15 AM on February 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Freelancer here. I'd do the class but plan to cut it short since it's the last session anyway, and then spend some quality time aggressively resting until the last possible second to be able to do the talk. Rearrange everything else.

If it comes to it, I do highly recommend getting the old-style Sudafed that lives behind the counter at the pharmacy. It dries you out like MAGIC and makes flying and presenting when you're sick much more feasible. It's made a lot of cross-Atlantic flights and talks possible for me when they would otherwise have been too much to bear. This from a woman who once had to do meetings and write deliverables while stricken with the actual swine flu.
posted by Andrhia at 11:51 AM on February 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think you need to tell anyone you're going to be interacting with that you are sick. If you decide to teach the class, you need to tell all the students and let them cancel without financial penalty. If you decide to travel, you need to wear a medical mask, and you need to tell everyone at the meeting and the talk that you are ill, and if any of them have paid to see you, let them cancel without financial penalty.

If you feel well enough to work, you can work. But please don't expose your students and colleagues to an illness that may be much more serious for them than it is for you. Some of them, or people they're in close contact with, may be immuno-compromised or have other medical conditions that mean that the flu could be fatal. I have a medical condition that means that every time I get a cold, I end up sick enough that I can't leave my house, often for 2-3 weeks. I would be furious if someone exposed me to that danger on purpose without warning me and giving me a way out. Please don't be that person who puts your own income above other people's safety. If you can and want to work, do. But don't become a threat to others. You don't have the right to make that choice for them and their families.
posted by decathecting at 12:15 PM on February 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

I am sorry you are sick. I admit I am bemused by all the people who work when sick. First, this infects everyone else. Second, it prolongs your illness. Third, it can make your illness become something more serious, like pneumonia.

You need to go to bed, get your rest and fluids, and cancel your appointments until you are well again.
posted by bearwife at 12:47 PM on February 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

I would be pretty mad if someone with an active case of the flu (or worse...stomach bug) showed up to teach a class. Because that means everyone present would also be exposed to those germs. And bring it home to their babies/grandparents/immunocompromised relatives. No. If it's a plain cold, ok, but not with a serious illness.

I would cancel all commitments and hope to make it to the talk. I would NOT leave the house with a high fever, because that means you're positively oozing yucky germs.

(I realize, not realistic for some - if you need to go out sick to keep your job and livelyhood, that's just the way it is. But if it's just a one-time financial hit, yeah, I think you need to take it.)
posted by The Toad at 1:28 PM on February 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Reschedule the class from tonight. Sleep. Make getting better for Wednesday your priority.

Make a doctor's appointment for just before you get on the plane, just in case you haven't gotten better. By then you should have either started to feel much better, or be developing an infection. I'd be loath to fly with a sinus or ear infection, for example, as the pressure changes can be hell, but bronchitis would probably be ok.

Consider getting travel insurance.
posted by kjs4 at 7:39 PM on February 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks these are all super-helpful replies. I cancelled my class (and now rescheduling it), got a ton of rest and a ton of sleep. I am feeling way better today.
posted by ManInSuit at 8:12 AM on February 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

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