10 Computer virus
News that a bug is going around travels across the city faster than a party invitation. If you get wind of a contagious illness in your social or professional circle don’t, under any circumstances, search for symptoms online at the first sniffle. It’s the fastest way to convince yourself of your own mortality. We once convinced ourselves that an ice cream milkshake brain freeze was actually proof we had only a day to live after looking up the condition.
9 Hospital visit
A doctor is just as likely to get you thinking the worst. If you’ve gone in to see a doc just hoping to be signed off work for a couple of days they’ll have you laid out in a hospital bed, drip in arm and head propped up with a fluffy towel faster than you can say “put it all on my medical insurance”.
8 Cough drops
If you know your condition is little more than a head cold, tummy bug and the sort of fatigue that comes with either being run down by stress or just having some great TV series to binge-watch and not enough time to do it, then self-diagnosis is required. You can’t just summon a day off work from nowhere though. Be sure to sprinkle in a few hearty coughs, the occasional gripe about aching bones and, if you’re going for two days off work, perhaps even swoon by the photocopier.
7 Work it out
It’s a no-win situation. Struggle into work and you’re resented for passing your germs onto innocent bystanders and contributing to the outbreak of the plague. Skip work and you’ll be suspected of skiving, marked down as lazy and shunned, ironically, like a leper.
6 Zombie apocalypse
If your illness is genuine, you are going to look, feel and sound rough. Nobody in the world can run a fever, explosive sickness bugs, coughing fit and severe sneezes and retain their usual chipper outlook. Give in to the illness and accept you’re going to be a zombie for a few days. Monosyllabic grunts, pasty skin, stained, stinking clothing and dull, almost lifeless eyes are the best you can hope for until it passes.
5 Don’t be seen
You can’t let anybody but your closest friends and relatives see you when you’re like this. Nothing will dampen a burgeoning romance, career chances or friendship more than the sight of your illness face. The look you’re going for might be brave defiance, but the reality is more like deranged orc. Hibernate indoors until it passes.
4 Expert opinion
Whether it’s holistic nonsense, medication advice, home remedies or international old wives’ tales, the tips on how to get better are about as much use as a celebrity make-up tip. Unless you’re basically close to perfect already, the unsolicited and unqualified suggestions are going to make no difference whatsoever and you’ll stay resolutely putrid.
3 No sympathy
Remember when you were little and grandma used to look after you when you were sick? Well those days are long gone and if you want some sympathy it might be best not to say you’ve picked up food poisoning at a luxury buffet, sunstroke from your yacht cruise or a cold by stepping in and out of air-conditioned shops.
2 Enjoy it
Sure, you may well go through an entire family-sized box of tissues and toilet rolls in the space of 48 hours and be unable to leave your bedroom, but that’s not to say being ill can’t be fun. Guilt-free comfort food if you can face it, favourite movies, an 18-hour sleep and total quarantine from the outside world might not be literally what the doctor ordered, but it can be just as effective.
1 Regulate fun
Just keep the good times off social media. When you’re supposed to be suffering you can’t let your colleagues know you’re recuperating by a swimming pool with a fresh lemonade and a sun umbrella. We believe you that you’re just getting some fresh air, but others might think you were fine all along and just wanted a break from the coughing in the office.
Will Milner is a contributing editor. He’s never had a sick day.