Ducklings for My Nurses

I’ve acquired strep throat. I could have ended up with the virus that’s going around instead, but no: my immune system got overstressed, and it chose strep. Which is fine with me – easy to survive with antibiotics, as long as you minimize swallowing for the first 24 hours. Bed rest is also lovely, but here’s the thing about the company I work for: you can only get Family and Medical Act leave if you’re out for three days. If you don’t need to be out for three days, you don’t get excused under FMLA. You just rack up the attendance points until you risk getting fired. In the meantime, your chances of promotion or transfer are destroyed, because you’ve ended up on a written warning for the crime of being sick too many times. This is how American companies work. And keep in mind, this is a company with a rather generous attendance policy compared to some.

So you come in sick, sit your highly-contagious self down, and suffer.

Our company has one thing many other companies don’t: an on-site medical clinic. So I’ve got me antibiotics. (And yes, I know I said I don’t care if I get fired, but getting fired for being absent due to illness isn’t part of the plan. I don’t care if I get fired as long as they’re firing me for telling them to fix their shit and protesting mandatory overtime. I don’t care to give them any other cause. That’s why my miserable ass was planted at my desk today.) We also have an on-site cafe that sells things like frozen fruit puree. I’m one of the lucky ones: my writing skills mean I can always find a supervisor to give me a research/writing project, which means off-phone time, which means not having to try to talk while it feels like gnomes are mining my tonsils. Antibiotics, frozen stuff, projects: set.

And I have two wonderful coworkers who do not like to see people suffer. When Amanda came by and saw me wincing every time I had to swallow, she decided she must fill me up with tea. Starspider then brought out her collection. This woman takes her tea very, very seriously, so Amanda had plenty to work with. And while I didn’t want them fussing, it’s pretty much impossible to turn down strawberry-flavored tea with honey that smells like unicorns, rainbows and relief.

So there I was, moments later, sipping soothing tea prepared for me by two wonderful women. And I thought, “I need to do something to thank them. Can’t hug them – that’s reserved for enemies just now, at least during the contagious phase. So what can I do?”

And it came to me: baby duckies! I can make them a baby duckie video.

So I did.

How cute are they? I had quite the little adventure with them this spring. There were about four billion babies out, and some of them hadn’t quite figured out what humans were for yet. One particular group of ducklings were quite curious, and mama didn’t seem to mind, so I crouched down to say hello.

The curious trio.

I held out a hand by way of saying hello, and they had a moment of confusion. One of them, the one on the left, was quite vocal about it.


You may notice the calculating look on the middle one’s face. Apparently, someone at some point in its young life had been handing out bread, and it now associated hands with yum. It came over for a closer look.


Finding no bread, it decided to try the other flat, white thing in front of it.


Yepper. That’s a baby duckie biting my fingers. It was adorable as hell. Poor little thing was mightily surprised when I turned out to be inedible. I think its mom was amused.

I hope this goes some small way towards making my nurses grin in delight. And hopefully a few of you grinned as well. As for my sick self, I’m going to go supplement the antibiotics with chocolate gelato and the world’s worst dance movie*, and see if I can’t beat this thing quickly. Wouldn’t do to waste that head start Amanda and Caeli gave me, amirite?


* I exaggerate. The plot is teh suck and the writing clanks like a sabotaged steam engine, but the dancing’s good, the music’s catchy, and there are some lovely whimsical bits. Also, it was free. It’s fun to have on in the background whilst making videos of baby duckies for some of the most caring people I know.

Ducklings for My Nurses
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12 thoughts on “Ducklings for My Nurses

  1. rq

    That’s it. I’m going to send you my seriously zoomed-in photos of baby coots from way back in Mayish-June (I forget).
    Also, trivia: Strep throat is usually (not always but usually) caused by the same bacterium that causes scarlatina (scarlet fever). So, hey, you’ve been going after those 19th century heroines, and essentially caught yourself a 19th century disease! :D
    Also, for sore throats, I would recommend drinking warm (not hot) tea, but without the honey. Because of being sweet and stuff it actually does a bit of damage (roughness of voice etc.); I only discovered this last winter, through the children’s doctor.
    That being said, it (honey) has great antibacterial properties (if unpasteurized and not in HOT tea). For years, I’ve been ‘curing’ (fine, alleviating the symptoms of!!!) sore throats with a black tea-lemon-honey mixture, with a good dose of the local strong-alcoholic herbal cure-all (whiskey will also do, although I guess you can’t drink at work, too bad…), and two Tylenol (optional – use only if taking 2 – 3 hour nap right after drinking). Works miracles, within the usual timeframe of recovery. ;)

    (Also, can you really eat frozen/cold things with strep throat? I always thought that made things worse – but I guess it could take the swelling down. Is that what it’s for?)

  2. 2

    Reminds me of when I got mononucleosis. Almost couldn’t breathe it hurt so much – talking was torture. Had to get Cloraseptic spray at pharmacy, a ten minute walk when healthy. It was winter, and minus 10C out(14F). It took 15 minutes to walk, and breathing did hurt.
    I got to the store, and opened the package and sprayed my throat, then went to pay. I forgot my wallet! Home, back to store, and then home – finally. I had just started my my second year of chem/physics and it didn’t go well. I was so tired and weak for about a month and a bit and ended up not having enough hours in labs and had to take inorganic over.

    So, I am impressed that you made it to work as I have heard the strep is as painful and can wipe you pretty good, although not always, but the pain!

    You have my respect, and nice video!

  3. 6

    So sorry about your throat! Take care of yourself. I’ve never understood why companies think treating sick employees like shit is a good idea!

    Re ducklings: The reason they’re so unafraid, and think your hand is bread is simple. Mallards are incredibly dumb. They also breed like crazy, so they’re everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s probably a good thing they’re so dumb or we’d be up to our eyeballs in them. A typical mallard mother will hatch a dozen or more ducklings and only manage to raise a couple of them.

    Now if you’d walked up to baby Canada Geese like that, you’d never have gotten close before both parents came at you hissing and flapping. They hatch about six and raise them all, which is why we’re up to our eyeballs in Canada (NOT “Canadian”)Geese.

  4. 7

    I’ve been working for 25 years now and I would say that easily 90-95% of the illnesses I have had came from co-workers who had to go to work sick or not get paid. For 11 years I worked for a company that had no paid sick days and I got the flu 1-2 times a year. Since moving to a new job where they do provide sick days, I haven’t gotten it once.

    Paid sick days should be mandatory. It’s good for business. Employees are people, not devices.

  5. 8

    Oooh, strep! I had it once. Throat thingies swelled closed, couldn’t even swallow my own saliva without choking. Went to Med center and them trying for a throat culture was just lots of fun. Took me out for a week, swilling liquid antibiotic. Couldn’t even talk for four days. Nasty nasty. Best to you.

    And yeah, that is a pretty bad dance movie, but it’s got lots of eye candy. My favorite is “Tap” with Gregory Hines and lots of old-line tappers. Superb.

  6. 9

    Hang in there Dana. As for the crappy deal at work, just remember that revenge is a dish best served cold! And boy-howdy aren’t all these corporate types gonna be in a world of hurt when the pendulum of employee fair treatment swings back in favor of all us working stiffs? Can’t wait to see it myself.

    Sounds as though you’ve already got an exit strategy laid out. Good, as that’s half the battle in moving on.

  7. rq

    I’m not a qualified doctor; it’s a personal remedy that works, because the key ingredients come in small amounts. It’s definitely drowse-inducing, hence the obligatory 2 – 3 nap afterwards. And no work.

  8. 12

    It is amazing that your doc didn’t tell you to stay away from work for a few days, both for your own sake and for everyone else’s. Streptococci are quite easily transferred from you to your (really wonderful) coworkers and particularly to anyone you live with. Scarlet fever hit all the kids (6) at once in my native family; separately we all had nasopharyngeal strep infections, and though most of us resisted ok, two of us were left deaf. A grandfather died from a sequel (bacterial endocarditis); antibiotics only postponed the inevitable. A grand-nephew is profoundly deaf and damnnear died from a sequence of resistant strep infections. These are potentially very bad bugs. Please, please be careful, take the meds and rest as much as you can.

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