My boss’ mom is in pretty severe decline - she (my boss) has been flying out to Nevada every other week to try and take care of her mom. This week, she’s brought her mom into Mayo clinic for a serious work-up. Apparently mom has pernicious anemia, which fortunately is reversable, so maybe she’ll start doing better soon. In the meantime, as the most experienced person in the lab, I’m taking over some of her responsiblities.
One of our technicians, who had no prior history of mental illness, started having panic attacks about three months ago. After figuring out what was going on (involved an ER visit), she was put on medication and into counseling. Meanwhile, she finds out that pretty much every single member of her entire extended family has been diagnosed with either anxiety disorders or depression, but no one had mentioned it to her. Thanks, guys. Three weeks ago, she disappeared. Hasn’t been to work, sent one email saying she would be out for a week - three weeks ago.
She’s spoken to our other technician, so we know she’s alive, and under treatment. However, she’s asked the other tech not to talk about it. From the clues that I’ve gotten, I think she’s had a bad reaction to the medications and seriously freaked out, and is now spending her time getting her shit back together before she starts medical school in the fall. That’s fine, but it’s sort of left us in limbo - our boss is sympathetic, and would like to put her on (paid) disability leave, but since she hasn’t communicated in any way or sent us a doctor’s note, we have to register her as having abandoned her post. She was also very near finishing a body of work for publication, and we don’t know whether to give her project to someone else or not - we don’t want to take it away from her if she’s coming back. And, we’re worried!
The other post-doc in the lab (other than me) is having side effects from cholesterol medication, causing severe and angonizing muscle cramps all down one side of her body. She’s coming in to do absolutely necessary work, then going home for rest and pain medications.
My lover just had a bad salmonella infection, leading to eight days of diarrhea, three days of which he was also running a high fever. Aside from making him perfectly miserable, he was feverish enough that I couldn’t leave him alone - I was worried that he would hurt himself, and he wouldn’t drink (absolutely necessary) fluids unless I actually stood there with a cup. So I had to take a couple of days off work to watch him.
One of my best friends is also having a run of panic attacks, and is not under treatment because he can’t get health insurance. He’s pretty capable of handling them for the most part, but he calls me to come sit with him when they get really bad. He tries to just ride them out, but he’ll take a Xanax if he really needs to. So we also have the twin worries of him getting addicted to the stuff, and of finding him more of it (no prescription, of course).
Me? I’ve been having some problems with my experiments lately, which has been frustrating. My lupus is acting up - but it’s skin lesions only, so it’s more of a cosmetic bother than a real danger. But it still freaks me out. The facial spasms I was having for the past two weeks seem to be resolving themselves without intervention, so I don’t think I’ll need to see a neurologist. I’m basically healthy.
So my boss is coming back Thursday. We normally have lab meetings on Friday mornings, but we haven’t scheduled anyone to speak, since that was the job of the tech who is missing in action.
I’d kind of like to put together some kind of “Get well everybody… Now, goddamit!!!” thing for lab meeting. I think we could all use it. Does anyone have any good ideas for such an event? If it were a less scientific group, I would consider doing some kind of healing ritual - I’m not a believer in any supernatural, but I think ritual alone has an enormous effect on the human mind. However, that won’t really work in a lab setting.
I also don’t want it to come off as “Get back to work, you sickly slackers”. This lab is exceptionally friendly and supervision-free, so everyone pretty much works as much as their personal conscience dictates. The flip side of that coin is that everyone feels personally guilty about slacking, even for good reason. And I know that I can be pretty intimidating, so I want the message to be a gentle one.
So, any imput from the great Doper masses?