I’ve known many young, working women over the years who stayed home when they got the sniffles, a scratchy throat or a twinge in the tummy. Then there’s Gabby Giffords, the Arizona Congresswoman who was shot, comatose, braved months of grueling physical therapy and returned to work because she wanted to cast an important vote on the budget.
Just what is it that separates the women from the girls? Why do some of us baby ourselves, while others are stalwart, even if we’re feeling dreadful? Is it because our mothers didn’t comfort us when we needed it most? Or maybe it’s because they did fawn over us whenever we felt under the weather.
I once left on a business trip to Dallas feeling awful; achy, feverish and weak. When I arrived, I could barely stand, no less walk the trade show I was supposed to cover. I went to the hotel to sleep, and by the next morning, I felt worse. I managed to get myself into a cab and to the hospital ER. They suspected what was wrong and took a chest x-ray. I had pneumonia. The doc gave me antibiotics and advised me to get to bed. I asked if I could fly home and he reluctantly agreed.
The idea of missing school or work always scared me. That’s the kind of nut I was. When I became a boss in my twenties, I resented anyone who gave into their physical discomforts. Therapy helped me empathize with those who don’t feel well enough to work. Except, of course, if they’re bellyaching all the time.