Sick as a Dog

I do NOT recommend getting sick in Russia!

I was down and out this day, but not from a cold!
Another time I was sick

The mice better not be playing while the cat is away!

They better be working!

How I got sick in the first place

Toes are not that clean..

Oh, am I sick! I have a fever of 101 F, I am sweating like
a pig, yet I have crazy chills, and I feel better if the window is open
to the -10 C air! What do I have, but the ‘greep’! No, its not
the ‘grip’ or the ‘drip’ (like I thought people were
saying), but ‘greep’ or flu; two days of fever, two days of a
runny nose, and at least a week of pain.

This whole greep thing started in Vladivostok in December, and it’s
slowly made its way east since then. Now it is in the Moscow region, and
so far, 20+ people have died from the flu epidemic. Luckily, no one I
know of has died, though there were moments when all of us thought we
were going to.

Of all the times to get the greep, this week is the worst. It is the
busiest time of the month for me, when both PW and CL payroll’s are due,
so though I may feel as if I am on my death bead, I have to get up and
go to work. Yes, I look like the living dead, and I may be infecting
others, but the job must be done. Practically, I could delay the
payroll, or have my assistant prepare most of it, but my Puritan work
ethic demands that I finish the task, perfect and on time.

Oddly enough, my attendance drive is not shared by all of the Russian
staff, to my great frustration. If they have the sniffles, a
headache, or other minor ailment, it will be enough for them to call in
sick. I try to understand, I really do, but sometimes I loose my cool.

I think the heavy sick day use is a result of poor healthcare,
superstitions, and a liberal work policy in Russia. If you read the
articles, I have on Russian healthcare or if you’ve ever used Russian healthcare, you can understand why a
person would try to stay healthy. If I had to go to those crazy doctors,
I too would stay home at the slightest malady to try and get healthy
without a trip to the vrach (doctor).

When they stay home, the average Russian doesn’t just sit in bed. She
is doing one of the odd home remedies that populate this land.
I’ve been told to do vodka shots when I am sick, no matter by what
disease, since vodka is the ultimate tonic here. Other remedies are even
more bazaar, like vacuum bottles or honey-to-the-chest application.
Kinda like our ‘cures’ of chicken soup or lemon tea, there
usually is some basic physiological benefit, which in my book, is as
good as any medical one.

Now, the main reason Russians stay home at the first sneeze, is that
they can! The work rules here are very pro-worker (remember, this was
the worker’s utopia). A Russian can have three days of paid sick leave
for whatever reason. If they return for one day, then leave again for
the next three the process can go on indefinitely. If you get a note
form a doctor, you can stay out as long as the doctor says. They usual
advise a week of bed rest, though I’ve seen people on the street or in
clubs, when they are still listed as ‘sick.’ Even if you have
some major malady that takes you out for several months, you can still
be paid for several months and have unpaid leave for several years. So,
years later, you have a right to be reinstated at your old position at
your historical salary.

I could go on at how sweet Russian labor laws are, but then I’d have
to tell you at the poor conditions most Russians endure at work and the
pitiful salaries they get for it. I’m way to sick to do that; I’m going
to go back to bed now!