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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

You're sick. Go back to bed.


As most of you know, I had to cancel my appearance at ODU Minicon this past weekend because of illness. I felt dreadful. And I don't just mean because I was sick. I felt terrible because the only time I've ever bowed out of a con for health in recent memory was giving up an Artist Alley table because I was going in for surgery. The ODU Anime Club had been awesome about inviting me, giving me early choice on panels, making sure I had everything I needed, and then that Friday morning I woke up feeling like my head was going to fall off.

I had to make the bad call -- I had to cancel out. I spent the majority of the weekend sleeping, and while I now feel awesome, I still feel awful for bowing out like I did. Even though it was the right thing.

Border collies like me don't like to that. I'm sure a few of you are the same: if you can stand, if you can think straight, go do it. No excuses.

But you gotta do something for yourself. Seriously. I learned this the hard way after fainting spells and hospital visits. Being a border collie benefits you if you're just pushing through the sniffles or a lazy patch, but if you are ill, you have to resist.

Need convincing? Of course you do. I did. Seriously. If you're sick in a way that genuinely affects your ability to function and you are not absolutely essential, skip the con, and here's why:

You'll end up being Patient Zero.

Congoers know all about the Con Crud, right? Especially this time of year. It's hellish. You know how you're feeling right now? Now imagine the entire attendance of that con, plus the staff and guests, having it, too. It's not likely to spread that far, but in crowds that big, bugs have a way of speeding around. Especially at winter cons.

Your roommates won't be happy.

If you're sharing a hotel room (which you probably are), you're going to be coughing, sneezing, puking, or whatever this illness has you doing all night. If you're rooming with other attendees, they'll be zombies all day -- if they're other guests, they'll be sending their handlers for a whole lot of coffee/tea just to keep afloat. Not to mention the whole contagious part.

You won't be on top of your game.

Okay, I've gone onstage with a fever of 102 and then been carted off to medical. I've run panels with next to no voice. But if you get out of bed and you're actually weaving on your feet -- honey, what makes you think you're presenting an hour-long panel on the history of magical girl anime with any sort of professionalism? (That's a note to myself, by the way.) If you're staff, especially a department head, the story changes a little because the running of the event may fall apart a bit in your absence. But weigh your functionality against your job description. Do what you need to to make up the difference. And if there literally is no way to... don't.

Fainting in public is embarrassing.

Let me tell you a story. Years ago I went to England, and my flight back was fraught with issues. The first one was cancelled, and people bum-rushed the desk, crushing me against it and underfoot and causing me to have a seizure. I got to spend the next four hours in a Manchester hospital waiting room to be told I was probably fine now and get some rest. (But at least it was free.) Next day, I was That Girl Who Had a Seizure in the Airport. People remembered me. And they sure did want to talk about it.

Now, I may well be the only person in the world who is this embarrassed by injury (I once almost forewent yelling for help when I slipped on a patch of ice and busted my tailbone because it was after dark and I didn't want to wake anyone). And while the vast majority of people are not assholes, you don't want to answer questions about what you did this weekend with 'passed out at the rave.'

You deserve to be healthy.

This is the main thing, honestly. I've worked cons with colds, flus, high pain levels, you name it. I also gauge when those things will conflict with my ability to do my job and the rest of the con's ability to function. Staying home from this last con let me get well sooner. I missed an awesome weekend, but I'm also sitting up straight and eating properly again.

Short version: don't be like me and risk harming yourself because you're terrified of breaking a promise. People who care want you to be well. And if they want you there, they'll let you take a rain check for next year.