The delightful Aussie colloquialism ‘sickie’ can describe both the person who is sick, and the time taken off work to allow said sickness to flourish to its full potential.
Unfathomably, many employers still require a certificate even for one or two days out of the cell.
Diagnosing such brief, self-limiting illnesses relies entirely on the history anyway, so in effect the poor patient has waited 45 minutes tell you “I was unable to attend work from TUESDAY to WEDNESDAY due to a medical condition.”
This completes the only known consultation where the one sentence covers all four components—presenting complaint, history, diagnosis and management. I usually cut-and-paste x4, and hope Medicare doesn’t audit my notes.
Interestingly, one doesn’t ever have a sickie or suffer from a sickie—no; one always takes a sickie, in the same way an employee, requiring a break lasting a mere ninety-sixth as long, might take five.
The broader the Aussie twang, the more likely the term is being used ironically. For a sickie can sometimes imply that its taker is, in fact, the opposite of sick.
The literalist would argue they had taken a wellie, the capitalist would call it a phony, while the pragmatist reckons it’s a mental health day and the suntan is part of the phototherapy.
Two population subgroups utilise sickies the least. Business owners prefer to conspicuously turn up when unwell, coughing loudly over their employees, and hoarsely phoning sympathetic radio shock jocks during lunch, to berate absenteeism.
The second group comprises the children of doctors. I say this as my youngest son lies on the floor in a pool of sweat, teeth grinding with rigors. I just hope his teacher thinks to phone me if he gets any worse.
My little twig, unfortunate enough to find himself growing on the medical branch of our family tree, has no hope.
First, like Job’s ten children, he must contend with a father who has always seen worse. “Go to the school office if that black spot becomes bubonic. I’ve packed one face mask with your lunch. I’m keeping the others for locusts.”
And faking it is not an option—I’ve seen it all. The thermometer in the coffee, the Glasgow Coma score of six (responded to pain), the swollen ankle. Actually, the treating orthopod reckoned I should have taken that last one more seriously.
Finally, my sons have to realise I don’t get paid to nurse them at home, despite my argument this falls under a GP Management Plan by definition.
And anyway, we need the money: I’m still paying off that ankle op.