I Survived an 80-Hour Work Week With the Flu (My Survival Story)

Last week, I had the privilege of on-boarding a new client. Initially, there was supposed to be a probation period, but the client was so impressed with my work she decided we didn’t need to be trained. Instead, she asked me to join a big project they had taken on that was unlike anything her team had ever worked on before. I had initially signed up for 5 hours of work with her that week; she gave me 20!

Meanwhile, one of my other larger-than-life clients was struggling to complete a backlog of content assignments. I had been chipping in however, whenever, and wherever I could. They were really grateful that I took on the extra work. Well, when that combined with 20 hours I had not fully planned for from the other client, I started to question whether or not I would actually get everything completed on time.

This was Friday, which until this week, I counted as the first day of my work week. That also made it the day that I set my work schedule for the week. On Saturday, I completed more work than I needed to and Sunday I went in to work a 16-hour shift in the city. On Sunday, I started to notice sniffles and coughs, but I have not had the flu in almost a decade, so my initial self-diagnosis was allergies or sinusitis.

Boy, was I wrong! By Monday, I realised that not only did I feel like someone had ran me over on a train track, but I currently had way more work than I usually did. Even so, though all the projects were due Friday afternoon and evening, I had everything in from Thursday night for the old client and Friday 0600 AM for the new one.

Here’s how I survived the madness and the mayhem. If you have ever found yourself in a similar position, I hope this is helpful. Please note that I am not a medical practitioner. Please seek professional medical advice if you are ill. The influenza has claimed lives.

Inform the Boss/Clients

The older client’s assignments were straightforward, so I was confident I could complete those on time with no hiccups. The assignments I was worried about were from the new client. What was worse, I had a big meeting with her Monday morning regarding the project and had no voice, but plenty of coughs to spare.

As soon as I woke up and realised my predicament, I emailed her to let her know, as well as the project manager she had assigned to me. Thankfully, she was very understanding and put off the meeting. She wished me a speedy recovery and the project manager followed up with the information I needed to get started via email.

Sleep Like There’s No Tomorrow

Much to my family’s surprise and approval, I decided to spend the first train-wreck day getting as much sleep as possible. Some nights, especially in the earlier part of the week, that meant sleeping up to 12 hours at nights.

I noticed that every time I slept, I woke up feeling better than before I went to sleep, so I prioritised getting as much rest as I possibly could. This may seem counterintuitive when you have a lot of work to complete, but the flu will slow you down. It sure slowed me down, and as anyone who knows me will tell you, that’s a tough job.

Work When You Can

Naturally, with client work assigned to me, I did have to get some work done, so I came up with a plan. For any other week, I work when I need to. I hate the idea of work piled up, so sometimes that means staying up for a full 24 hours to get things done.

In fact, I do this almost every Sunday night. Those assignments are never due until Monday, so why do I bother? I like going to bed on a Sunday night/Monday morning without worrying about getting up at a certain time to do client work. It is much easier for me to stay up. I credit college for that skill.

This time, I promised myself I would push through work on Wednesday night, Thursday all day, and Friday morning. However, for the time preceding that, I would only work when I can. If I was working and started to feel tired or groggy, I would go to bed. Sometimes that was another 12-hour coma and other times it was a quick 1-hour nap. I managed to chip away bit by bit at the work I had by doing this.

Working when I can is also why I am only just posting this today!

Outsource Work

This year, my business is doing better than it ever has before and I am extremely grateful. To be clear, I make a lot less than most Americans, but I’m doing what I love. And, thanks to my minimalist lifestyle, all my bills are paid, I am ahead on my car payments, and my savings are growing. I can do this from anywhere in the world I choose. You can’t beat that—at least not for me.

That said, as more work landed on my table in January, my personal life took a serious hit. I was taking no days off. I went to bed every night knowing I had a due date to wake up to. It was no way to live. To fix this, I trained team mates at Alexis Chateau PR on the back-end work, so I could focus on finishing up the final product. In other instances, I worked on the back-end and main part of the project, but had someone else do the polishing.

I set this in motion from February and it really helped me cope last week with all the work I had to complete. It will also help me survive this upcoming week.

Stock Up On Good Food

My first day of being sick, I burned through an entire bottle of orange juice. I also ate a lot of garlic and honey and drank plenty of water. Eating “real food” was difficult, but every so often I managed a bit of salmon, a boiled egg or oranges.

I would get excited about my favourite foods, only to make the time to cook them and then pick away at it. Even so, I knew it was important to at least try to eat, so I treated food the way I treated work. I ate whenever I could and then left well enough alone when my body said no more.

Get Medicine

I really hate taking medication. I am that awful patient who will get a prescription from a doctor and never fill it, especially if it is for antibiotics or pain medication. I barely even take aspirin.

You wouldn’t believe any of those things were true if you looked at my coffee table right now. What’s worse is that I finally ran out of meds, so I am now hoping the flu will just run the rest of its course without incident.

Get Some Exercise

When you are ill, working out may be the last thing on your mind. I usually go to the gym on Thursdays, and I already knew that based on my workload and my infectiousness it was unwise to follow through. Instead, I went hiking with my Mom.

I wore a cover over my mouth for the car ride and the duration of the walk to minimise the likelihood of infecting anyone. Being out and about in nature really helped to improve my overall mood and strength. I also didn’t have to feel guilty about skipping on the gym.

Note that according to WebMD, if you are running a fever, exercise in any form is a bad idea.

Protect Your Family

I was very sickly in my earlier years. Not counting the fact that a boy once stabbed me in the eye and another dropped a cement block on my head (separate incidents), I was constantly battling complications from hay fever, tonsillitis and a hole in my heart. You can read my short story, The Man in the Closet, for a fictionalised version of what that was like.

In short, I have no idea what it really means to be “healthy”. I have never been “healthy” a day in my life. I am “healthy, all things considered”. I know not everyone else can relate to that, so when I am sick, I keep my sickness to myself. I mostly quarantined myself. I don’t offer anyone food. I washed my hand before touching anything that wasn’t mine and mine alone. So far, so good.

Hopefully by tomorrow, the flu symptoms will be less noticeable. By Monday or the middle of the week, I hope this lingering cough is long gone. As for right now, by my own work when you can philosophy, the three articles I planned to work on today will have to wait. It’s time for a Flu Nap.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

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32 thoughts on “I Survived an 80-Hour Work Week With the Flu (My Survival Story)

  1. Wow Sis! The Flu came in like a flood on you but you didn’t allow it to get you down. You planned your work and worked that plan girl. (Really interested in the cement block being thrown on your head and the stabbing in the eye, really?, Oh My girl you are a living testimony) You also seem like you know your stuff when it comes to business, ever thought about mentoring?. Anywho, I hope you’re feeling a lot better Sis. =)

    1. It came in with the vengeance of a thousand suns. I haven’t had the flu in almost ten years!

      I haven’t told you guys about the eye stab and my head being broken open? 😂 One day I’ll have to share those! This was in kindergarten.

      I’m not better yet, but I’m recovering. I think I’ll be okay in about another week. Thanks hun! 🤗

      1. Loads of love 💞💞 and flowers 🌷🌷🌷 for a full recovery. Don’t sniff the flowers, they may trigger a sneeze…haha. (Just a little senseless humor)

      2. Haha! Thanks! I think I’m 98% of the way there now. Feel almost brand new 🤗

    2. I forgot to respond to the mentoring part haha. I’m sure there are people better suited for that than me in business. 😅

      1. Haha, well I’ll see what wisdom I can share on the company blog. I’ve neglected it for a while. I already have more clients than I need 😅

    1. Thanks! I’m feeling better, but still not recovered. Had to skip the gym for three weeks!

    1. I can’t tell you how much tea and orange juice I’ve had these past 2 weeks 😂

      1. Buahahahaha! This is true, but that’s a minor inconvenience for the awesome benefits.

    1. Thanks, Peter! I can’t wait for the coughing to go away! Being organised certainly does help 🙂

  2. I am very glad to hear you have recovered from your illness. You know? In the late 80s and 90s they called that type of thing Yuppie Flu: suffered by young ambitious people who worked too hard. Take care. All the best! 👍

    1. I haven’t recovered yet actually. I’m still sick. I’ve spent today coughing like it’s my new hobby. 😅 I think my mom would agree that I have Yuppie Flu!

      1. Well, last night I coughed so bad, I threw up 2 meals, so I’m nowhere bear recovered. I’ve been ensuring I get my 8 hours plus another nap in the evening.

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