It all unfolded rather innocently. Earlier this week I woke up and prepared for my morning walk – a mental flight check if you will. Shorts? Check. Poop bags? Check. Headlight (LED light that you can strap to your head). Check. Cell phone? Check. I was all ready to get up and go. I kissed my own dogs good-bye and opened the door. I stood there for a second, enjoying the cool, crisp air on my face, arms and legs. And then it happened. I put my hands on my hips and inhaled a very deep breath of air.
Cough? I must be imagining things. I readied myself again and inhaled deeply.
Oh, boy. Maybe it was nothing. That’s it. I’m just reacting to the pollen or something. There’s no way that I could be getting sick. I shrugged it off and headed out to my first client of the day. Upon getting to the house of two older labs, I could feel my chest getting heavier. By the time the walk was over it felt like I had a bag of New England clam chowder in my chest. This did not bode well. I made it home and crawled back into bed for a bit, my dogs a little fearful of this decrepit looking shell of a woman clinging to the pillows. They merely hopped on the bed and lay with me, seemingly seeing the Spectre of Death hovering about my head. My next walk wasn’t for another few hours so I had some time to try and rest.
I woke up after only 30 minutes of sleep. Maybe I should take a really hot bath. That put me in better spirits as I realized that my muscles and joints were starting to feel stiff. Oy. The hot water loosened me up and did miracles for my congestion. I dried myself off and prepared myself for my next round of walks, less congested and more limber. This would be a scene that I would perform for an entire week in order to stave off sickness.
During my walks I would find myself quickly losing my breath and coughing. Luckily I didn’t get hit hard with a cold. Aside from my routine of warm showers in the morning I would consume various medications the night before in order to try to prevent things from getting worse. I would end up having the weirdest and sometimes very psychedellic dreams. Sometimes while walking I would find my self feeling very warm and fuzzy headed.
So, why didn’t I just stay at home and rest? Well, if this were a regular job I’m sure I could call in 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave for work and say that I was sick. But this isn’t a regular job. My absence would have an impact on several people, not just the animals I work with. Calling sick on such short notice causes a domino effect where other dog walkers at woofie’s would have to scramble to rearrange their schedules in order to make sure that my clients would also be taken care of.
Another reason: my clients, both dogs and cats, look forward to spending time with me. Unless it is a serious illness that truly requires me to stay in bed then I can’t say no to those little happy faces smiling at me. These little guys can’t let themselves out and I’ve been entrusted to care for them. So, I make sure that I have my anti-bacterial hand wash ready and that I clean anything I touch. Heaven forbid I get anyone else sick.