Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It sucks to be sick...

Since I can't sleep because the Nyquil hasn't kicked in I thought I'd rant a little here. Ranting can be so much fun especially when you feel like shit.

Being sick really sucks anytime it happens, but it sucks worse when it's before a holiday in which you have nearly two weeks off and it sucks worse when you have a lot to do at work to get ready for a break. Fortunately for me, my work preparing for the break is pretty much done save admitting a few students who have turned their credentials in late, but worse case scenario I can do that on January 3rd when I return.

Rewind to this past Monday, it was the coldest day we've had so far this year and in this part of Florida, that's cold. I'd say it was about 36 when DH and I got to work but the forecaster said the wind chill made it feel like it was in the 20's and it indeed felt like it. I love the cold but the only thing about it I don't like is when I have to sit in a cold draft all day long because the windows in my office are so poorly insulated. I have three very large windows that take up the entire north wall of my office. They are six feet high and about ten feet long altogether. The windows open to a beautiful green courtyard, with trees and students milling about, it's very nice. All of us on the north side enjoy our view of the courtyard. And when the sun comes in it warms the office and when there are thunderstorms it's nice and cozy with the dark gray couds and the pouring rain. Having windows adds morale, I highly advocate it for productivity purposes.

Well when I walked in Monday morning, it was so cold in our wing (as it usually is), everyone had their space heaters on high, yes the space heaters we're not supposed to have but we'd all be frozen in our offices without them. Well Sherry was nice enough to bring me her space heater because her office was rather warm. It was one of those small square fan heaters, and I put it on my desk and put it directly on me. It took more than half a day for my office to resemble anything near warm. I had a cold cold draft on my face from my windows all day long. I tried closing my blinds halfway but they are those cheap hanging blinds, you know the ones with vertical slats that just swa back and forth when you open and close them. Well mine began losing slats years ago, with budget cuts there's no sense asking for new ones. I didn't want to close the blinds completely because I'd lose the beautiful natural light flowing into the office. And well, with budget cuts and the administration's push to conserve energy, it is a shame not to take advantage of all the natural light we can. Years ago I had most of the bulbs in my lights turned off save two which are all I need. Between those two fluorescent bulbs and the natural light, it's not too bright, yet not too dark and I believe I'm doing my part to conserve.

Well that cold draft that comes through the windows and underneath them in this strip of metal that holds cables and such in the wall, really worked me. That draft was on me all day long and no matter how well Sherry's heater warmed me, I still had that draft. If I was on my computer it was in my face (I have my computer setup so that I face the windows when I'm working on it, for obvious reasons. It's either face the windows or the office door, which would you choose? LOL) and if I was working on the other side of my desk, the draft was on my back and neck. Anyway I turned it was hopeless, I was cold and sniffling. I blew my nose all day, I tried not to sniffle but it was no use. By the time I got home, I was blowing my nose and sneezing. The next morning I had cold. My throat turned sore, I began coughing intermittently, and in general I felt like shit.

Now some will argue whether or not I picked up the cold from a person or from that draft. I believe it could have been either one. All I know is that every time it's really cold, that draft comes in and settles on me the entire day. And I'm not the only one it happens to. Now aside from the sick factor, what other things do you suppose come out of that?

Well, considering the administration is pushing the energy conservation thing, you'd think they'd do a campus-wide survey of staff and faculty asking for our recommendations and feedback. They did one a while back but it was more about recycling. I addressed that as straightforward as I could but nobody's addressed the issue of badly insulated buildings. Perhaps it would cost millions to renovate the buildings, probably so, but at least they need to begin a dialogue with those of us who can best give them feedback.

The first thing I would recommend is tinting the windows facing the sun to cut down on the heat coming into the buildings in the summer, whch would in turn cut the amount of energy needed to keep the offices and classrooms cool. What could it possibly cost to tint? The physical plant guys could do it. They already get paid for labor right? Just buy the materials. The second thing I would recommend is doing some insulating to keep out the cold winter air by filling cracks in walls and using weather stripping around windows.

Look I know that it costs to do all this and there are many buildings on campus which likely need work. Even if they can't get to it now, how about a dialogue with those who live in those buildings for so much of the workday. At least ASKING us what can be done is better than not asking us at all.

In the meantime, I am trying to get over this crud. I don't want it moving to my chest because I've had bronchitis before and it wiped me out for two straight weeks. That happened in 1994 when I worked in another building on campus, and I think then there was something in the air vents, I had never gotten sick like that until I worked in that building. Since that bout of bronchitis I've never bene the same. For nearly fourteen years I've complained about the mold and mildew in the ducts and vents but nobody listens. And so I gave up.

I had a teacher once who became sick from it in her building at another college in town and she became permanently disabled because of it. When she complained too much they moved her office out into the hall and eventually forced her out. Now the local news reports recently a serious issue in that building.


Anyway, DH and I agreed that a good diet and moderate exercise will help keep us healthy and we've already begun eating more fruits and veggies. In the meantime, there's nothing we can do about the building issues. Until someone of importance complains about it, it's a non-issue.

Off to bed now, the Nyquil is kicking in...


  1. I so completely understand your problem with this. Remember, I worked in the Hub for a few years and then Criser, they were both cold, and after I'd been caught red-handed turning the thermostat up to warm several hundred times, they put a lock on it! But the problem was the overhead vents! Most of the womenI worked with in that office usually complained about it being too warm, but then, if you remember them, you know that physically, they had enough padding to keep them that way through a blizzard. I was sick all the time, just like you, and I couldn't wait for the day when I no longer had to go back. If the university cared as much about the employees as they do for the sports teams, you'd have your repairs, but with UF it will never happen. So...the only other thing I can say is....make yourself a big pot of chicken soup... poor baby..

  2. Yeah, I second that advice. Lots of warm chicken soup, lots of water and lots of rest.

    I hope you feel better soon.