What’s Harder When You’re Sick: Driving A Screaming Fire Truck Or Dealing With A Screaming Baby?

Men with demanding jobs on why there's no calling in sick, especially as a dad.

by Fatherly
Originally Published: 
david funk

The following article has been produced with our partners at Vicks.

Any father who’s ever been sick (so, all of them) can attest: Feeding a toddler who views food as a toy or cleaning a poo-spackled infant while pushing through fever shakes is the worst.

Or is it?

After all, some fathers have jobs that require pretty high stakes stuff, regardless of whether or not their head is pounding or they can’t breathe through their nose. Sure, dealing with a kid while sick sucks, but what about hauling Joe Sixpack from a burning building? Or knowing that a missed day of work means missing payroll for your employees? Some men don’t have the luxury of a sick day, so they take DayQuil Severe to help them blast through it.

These 4 guys all have kids; They also have jobs where gritting their teeth through the snot is a requirement. Which do you think they find worse?

David FunkProfession: Lifeguard, EMT, FirefighterAbout: spends his summers plucking drowning beachgoers from the Jersey Shore, and his winters rescuing people from burning buildings.

What’s it like to deal with the challenges and stresses of work while feeling under the weather?

My jobs revolve around helping people who are possibly involved in traumatic life-threatening situations. Being on your A-game is a must all the time. There are times when I’m not feeling well and have to still be at work. That’s a challenge because when I respond to a call, especially a medical call, they can be full of crazy smells, sights, and emotions. Holding it together is a must. In my line of work, you never know what you’re going to have when the bell goes off for a fire or EMS call.

How does that compare to being a dad when you’re under the weather?

When you’re sick, you want to just relax and move at your own pace, but throw in a 20-month-old boy and … oh man I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. It’s not until you’re a dad that you really appreciate your parents. Growing up, I can’t ever remember my dad being sick, but I know there were times when he had to be. I try to take a page out of that book.

“It seems like every diaper is a crazy poop disaster that makes you gag and feel like you might lose it.”

Being a Dad and sick during the diaper years is wild. Your kid doesn’t understand that you’re not feeling well, and he expects you to be “on call.” It seems like every diaper is a crazy poop disaster that makes you gag and feel like you might lose it. On top of that, you’re worried that whatever you have you might give to your son and repeat the vicious cycle.

Which is worse when you’re sick: your job or parenting?

At my job, I have more flexibility in the day with some down time between drills and running calls. We have 5 or 6 guys who can absorb and help get the job done when someone’s sick. But parenting, my day revolves around my son and family with direct interaction all day. My wife and I are a team, and if I’m down it’s all on her. If everything goes right, my son won’t be able to recall any time that I was sick while he was growing up.

John RegisterProfession: Firefighter, EMTAbout: a father of 3 who’s worked as a firefighter for 25 years in Troy, Alabama, where he’s also a mechanic and carpenter.

What’s worse, being sick on the job or as a dad caring for your kid?

Being sick on the job or sick as a parent — it’s kind of one in the same. You’ve got a job, whether it’s your paid job or your job as a parent. You can’t just sit aside and let it go. You’ve got to work your way through the pain or the sickness and do what you’ve got to do as far as a parent goes.

Blitz WelchProfession: Special Forces Engineer, Sergeant First ClassAbout: a Green Beret who’s fought through colds while touring Afghanistan, the flu touring Central America, and the unique nightmare of a sick wife at home with sick twins.

Why were you compelled to power through work even on days when you felt like crap?

It’s just what you do [laughs]. You’ve got obligations that have to be met, that you just have to take care of. If you’re not in the best shape to help out, one of our teammates would help out, but other than that you just do everything that you can. You’re in a situation where you can’t stay home sick. You don’t get any sick leave when you’re doing operations in a foreign country working by yourself, with a small team, or with foreign soldiers. You just have to persevere and push through.

Can you recall a time when you were under the weather with babies at home?

Well, I definitely can remember my wife being sick and having to take care of her and the children! If I was at home and had to take care of the kids because they were sick and I was sick, that was fairly easy.

Which is worse when you’re sick: your job or parenting?

When they were babies: having to take care of the children. It’s worse having to stay home and take care of the children because you’re not being as productive as you need to be. I feel like I need to be productive, try to earn a living, and take care of them. At work, you go take care of the job. You might not get the volume done that you want, but you’re there to answer questions and take care of situations that arise. But being at home taking care of the children is a bit more … aggravating.

Felipe DonnellyProfession: Chef, Restaurateur About: quit his job and opened two highly-acclaimed NY restaurants — Comódo and Colonia Verde — with the help of friends and a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Why are you compelled to power through work even on days when you feel like crap?

Honestly, I had no choice. Calling in sick many times would mean closing the place down. I remember when Natalia was born I was at the restaurant the next day. It felt like crap not to be able to be a part of those beginnings.

What’s it like to deal with the challenges of your job when you’re under the weather?

It’s awful. Even if it’s, say, a small cold, being in the heat of the kitchen makes you feel everything tenfold. It’s like giving your body an automatic fever of 110 degrees. It sucks! Consider that you’re wearing a thick polyester chef’s coat, and the heat of the ovens and stoves running at 100 percent — cold sweats don’t even come close. When it comes to working with food, it is impossible to work under these circumstances, and honestly I only remember once doing it. As soon as the rush was gone, I gave all control to my sous chef and went home.

Which is worse when you’re sick: your job or parenting?

There is no doubt about it! Working the line of a kitchen sucks so much more! Especially when you need to work in that heat and be able to provide the necessary quality that needs to come out of the kitchen.

Check out Fatherly’s takeover of the @NyQuilDayQuil Twitter account on Wednesday, 10/21 for more #nosickdays stories.

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