Author Topic: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over  (Read 4188 times)

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CrochetFanatic

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I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« on: April 08, 2014, 10:16:45 AM »
Something isn't sitting right with me, so I have a question for you guys.

BG: My grandfather (that is, my dad's father) had a stroke last year, and he lives at home, but my cousin and her husband moved into the house to help take care of him.  They both work during the day, so for three hours or so every weekday someone stays with him to fix him lunch, keep him company, and just be on-hand if he needs anything.  I take one of the days, and occasionally I've done an extra couple days if one of the other people they have doing it can't make it for some reason.  End BG.

Today I got a text from my cousin saying that she was staying home from work with a terrible cold and sore throat (she's trying to get a doctor's appointment to see if it's strep), but I could 'still come over if I wanted', because she doesn't want to give the bug to our grandfather.  He's almost 92, so for him to catch it would NOT be good.  However, the germ is in the house anyway, and my first (admittedly selfish) thought was, "But it's okay to expose me to it, I suppose..."  I don't want to catch it, and I don't see why her husband (who is not sick, as far as I know) couldn't also take the day off.

Anyway, I already said I'd go over at 11 AM, so that's what's going to happen this time.  I've got my fingers crossed that it isn't strep, and that neither my grandfather nor I will catch it.  But if this were to happen again, would it be wrong for me to say no?  I know it wouldn't be rude per se, but would it be a case of 'forgivable selfishness', or should I do what I'm doing today and open our house up to the germ?

TootsNYC

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2014, 10:20:54 AM »
It's only 3 hours that you'll be filling in--she's not going to give it to him at other times of the day?

I think you could say, "I'm sorry--I'm going to bail, because I can't risk getting sick this week."

alkira6

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2014, 10:35:21 AM »
I agree. I wouldn't rick getting sick either. 

CrochetFanatic

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2014, 10:37:12 AM »
It's a little late now, since I already said I'd do it.  I'll most likely say no next time, though.  Especially if I end up getting sick.  :-\

I hardly ever see these people (with the exception of my grandfather), so I don't know why I should care what they think of me!

Thanks.

fountainof

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2014, 10:47:41 AM »
I don't think it is rude to cancel or rude for the cousin to say you can still come.  I think the less interaction between your cousin and the grandfather the better.  Just having a illness in the house doesn't mean getting it but doing things like preparing food while ill does add to the risk.

I personally would still go as I generally catch things when there is direct contact with the virus such as someone sneezing right on me or an ill person has prepared my food.  I will say that often I get illnesses when I let me guard down a bit, like forgetting to hand wash before eating.  I would be diligent about hand washing and I would not hang out with the cousin at all. 

However, if you get ill easily and are worried, I wouldn't go.  For example my DH is immuno-compromised and he won't knowing go to places where someone is ill.

wolfie

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2014, 10:52:57 AM »
Considering just how much they are doing (taking care of an elderly relative isn't easy) I would suck it up and go and I wouldn't be complaining about why can't they just suck it up and do even more either. Maybe the husband is saving up his sick days for when grandpa has a bad day and he needs both people there. Or for when his wife's sick days run out and he needs to stay home with grandpa.

Dindrane

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2014, 11:05:30 AM »
It seems like your grandfather is more or less on his own during the workday, except for those three hours you and others spend with him, right? And in the evenings and mornings (and weekends), your cousin and her husband are there for anything he needs and to keep him company?

Personally, I think that your cousin being sick really just means that everyone should kind of pretend she isn't in the house at all (and she herself should sequester herself in her room). Aside from wanting to avoid close contact with your grandfather while she has a potentially serious illness, she probably also feels pretty not great. I mean, she's sick, after all. I've had strep throat and other illnesses that I thought were strep throat (but ended up being something else), and I am barely able to take care of myself in that state, much less anyone else.

In this case, with a longstanding arrangement for your grandfather's care, I don't think it's reasonable to back out unless there's someone in your household who is either particularly susceptible or particularly harmed by an illness of this type, or your cousin refuses to voluntarily quarantine herself. She and her husband have legitimately done a very generous and caring thing by devoting what probably amounts to a lot of their free time to the care of your grandfather (giving up some privacy in the process). I don't think it's reasonable to ask them to do extra when one of them is sick, at least not in situations where the illness in question would not cause anyone else undue harm and they are taking reasonable precautions to avoid passing it on.

I also agree that just being in the house isn't necessarily going to expose someone to an illness to any appreciable degree (depending upon the illness, of course), but food preparation and other such activities can definitely increase the odds of spreading the illness.

Finally, I also don't think it's reasonable to expect both of them to take a sick day when one of them has a non-serious illness. Most people do not have unlimited sick days, and it is both prudent and entirely reasonable for your cousin and her husband to expect to be able to save theirs for their own illnesses and/or your grandfather's medical needs rather than using them on standard care of your grandfather when either your cousin or her husband is sick. There's already a system in place to care for your grandfather when they are not available to do so. That's why you go over there for a few hours once a week.


Two Ravens

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2014, 11:51:48 AM »
I also agree that just being in the house isn't necessarily going to expose someone to an illness to any appreciable degree (depending upon the illness, of course), but food preparation and other such activities can definitely increase the odds of spreading the illness.

Finally, I also don't think it's reasonable to expect both of them to take a sick day when one of them has a non-serious illness. Most people do not have unlimited sick days, and it is both prudent and entirely reasonable for your cousin and her husband to expect to be able to save theirs for their own illnesses and/or your grandfather's medical needs rather than using them on standard care of your grandfather when either your cousin or her husband is sick. There's already a system in place to care for your grandfather when they are not available to do so. That's why you go over there for a few hours once a week.

I agree with Dindrane. Why should her husband have to take the day off work just because you don't want to come over? Just wash your hands frequently and you should be fine.

Arila

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2014, 12:51:27 PM »
I also think you should go, as I believe it is important (if not vital) to your grandfather's health to cover this during-the-working-day shift to prevent his exposure to your cousin's illness. Cousin's husband can take care of the breakfast and dinner on either side of work hours (and really, isn't that enough?).

You should maintain good hygiene at all times when dealing with elderly/susceptible people, but especially in this case, try to avoid your cousin and her convalescing area, wash your hands, don't touch your face, etc.

Regarding your question "...but it's OK to expose me?" Well, unless you yourself are in danger of serious (= hospitalization) illness from catching what she has, I think your presence there is important to helping your grandfather avoid it.


It might also be especially nice/kind if you were to also make lunch/soup for your cousin while you were there, but that's a bit above and beyond the minimum requirement.

Roe

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2014, 01:34:59 PM »
Since he's 92 and, I assume, you are in relatively good health, I think you should go.  It would be much worse for him to get sick on top of his other health issues. 

This is just what family does for one another.  At least that's been my experience.

Tea Drinker

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2014, 01:43:00 PM »
In some sense, it's a question of the relative importance of you not getting this cold, versus the time you'd be spending with your grandfather. How is your own health, and do you live with anyone who would be at high risk from a cold?

Also, not all diseases are equally infectious. If it's a cold, and you aren't actually in the same room with your cousin, there's not much risk of catching it by visiting your grandfather. It's not like measles, where the air in a patient's room is considered hazardous for a couple of hours after the patient leaves.

Given that it's in some sense a trade-off of different needs and risks--your grandfather at one side, versus you and your household on the other--it's something you probably need to talk over with your family, and see what they think of the possible risks here. Not in the sense of "what is the risk of transmission of strep throat?"--for that you need your doctor or other competent medical advice--but how would it affect things if you got a bad cold? If you shrugged it off but your spouse got sick?
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shhh its me

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2014, 01:57:28 PM »
  I'm going to POD the go group. 

A little kids with strep tend to be less conscientious about the contagion then adults. ie I wouldn't expect an adult to cough in my face  or all over the apples in the fruit  or to drool on me bowl but a toddler might.  I've found adults can avoid infections each other as long as they are both aware and take precautions.  BUT one of those precautions should be not to be a caregiver to an at risk adult.  IF you were sick I'd say you should stay home to avoid infecting Grandpa , since she lives there all she can do is minimize interaction.

CrochetFanatic

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 03:42:49 PM »
Well, considering she sat in the living room with us and socialized for two of the three hours I was over there before going to her doctor's appointment, I think she was mainly concerned about food prep.  I thought it sort of defeated the purpose of having me over there, but whatever. 

We live next door, so he isn't necessarily alone the whole day.  He can (and does) call when he needs something, and we do go over to visit.  So even when he's home alone, he's not actually 'alone'.  :)

While no one here has a poor immune system, I have a good reason for not wanting to catch this bug.  I've got asthma, and every time I get something that goes down into my lungs, it can stay around for three weeks or more.  I had a couple really bad asthma attacks during my last chest cold, and my lips were actually beginning to turn blue.  We've got a nebulizer, and it did the trick after a few minutes, but I was using it every four hours around the clock for nearly a week.  I want to avoid that if possible.  Then again, I'm not 92...so yeah.

fountainof

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2014, 04:02:14 PM »
I do think asthma is a health risk though.  You may not consider yourself immune-compromised but for chest illnesses you are for sure.  I think it is reasonable not to want to go over and possibly if I were in your situation I might go but wear a mask.

Deetee

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Re: I'm Sick, But You Can Still Come Over
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2014, 04:03:15 PM »
I think it was a reasonable request (though I think it would have been better if she stayed in her bedroom-did she at least stay on the other side of the room?). It would be best for the 92 year old to not get a (potentially fatal) cold and not have sick people handling his food and directly caring for him.

It would be best if no-one was sick, but we don't have that option.