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To the Friendly Coworker I Ignored Because I Was in Pain

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As someone who has suffered from chronic headaches/migraines for years, I’ve learned how to manage and push through the day. I work in a pretty fast-paced physical therapy office and most of the employees already know what medical issues I am faced with on a daily basis. Fast forward to this week, I’ve only had this job for about three months (so calling in is not an option), and I get hit with a wicked three-day headache. The first day, not too bad, I can still pretend like there isn’t anything wrong. The second day, considerably worse: I go to work, to the chiropractor, and then home to take my meds and to bed. By the third day, I felt like my head was going to explode and I was having a hard time functioning.

You are the new guy, why would you know any different? Why would today be any different than any other day?

Well, today, I did not have the energy to have a million different side conversations, or to talk about your weekend plans. I did not have enough energy to put a smile on my face to joke around and mess with each other like we usually do. I did not have enough energy to eat in the same room as you or to hang around with you in the break room.

I only had enough energy to be pleasant to the patients. To check people in and check them out. I only had enough energy to handle one thing being thrown at me at one time. I only had enough energy to make it through the end of the day with out falling apart.

So when you start joking around with me and I ignore you, know I wasn’t trying to be mean, I just didn’t have the energy. Or when you want to talk to me about school, know I do care, I just didn’t have the energy. Or when you ask me to help you with a task, know that “sigh” wasn’t because I didn’t want to help you, I just didn’t have the energy.

I apologize for not being “myself” when I’m in pain. Shutting down and focusing on my job is the only way I know how to cope sometimes. Know that how I acted wasn’t because of anything you did, it was not your fault, it was what I had to do to get through the rest of the day.

But, I also want to thank you – thank you for not being nasty towards me (even though I probably deserved it). Thank you for coming up to me and checking on me, and even though I didn’t give you much to work with, your presence in that moment was just what I needed. And then again later, when we were alone, you asked me again if I was “really OK” (because we both knew that I wasn’t). You taking that moment out of your day to check in on me really meant a lot to me.

I’m sorry, and thank you.

Getty Image by shironosov

Originally published: July 25, 2018
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