Summer Guide: Medical Reasons You Should Not Be at Work

Swine flu not enough of an excuse for playing hooky? Here’s how to self-diagnose your next medically necessary escape from the office. No doctor’s note required.

When face masks and involuntary quarantine signal Seattle's next big public-health emergency, we'll let you know. But the recent swine flu was something of a bust in that regard—only a few people in Washington state got ill, and there were no fatalities in Seattle. Way back in 1918, the global Spanish-flu pandemic meant weeks of vacation, but not so today. Now that Memorial Day has passed, we need some serious summer maladies, stat! The weather's turned nice, and the days are long. Treatment for any number of obscure illnesses lies tantalizingly close, just outside your office window. Fortunately, I've been thumbing through some old medical textbooks in our SW research library, many in the original Latin, and can offer the following:ACUTE VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY Fact: The human body needs exposure to sunlight to generate this important vitamin.Symptoms Gazing longingly out the window. Staring into desk lamps. Repeatedly photocopying one's face. Showing up to work in a bikini.Rx Patient requires immediate exposure to ultraviolet rays via beach, park, or rooftop deck. Long lunch breaks may be necessary as auxiliary therapy.SUDDEN-ONSET VOLLEYBALL SYNDROME (Not to be confused with Ultimate Frisbee seizure episodes.)Symptoms Patient obsessively spikes and digs crumpled-up paper balls across desks and cubicle walls. Randomly yells "Side out!" during meetings and conference calls. Covers office floor with sand for better traction. Strong smell of SPF 40.Rx Immediate, intensive physical therapy at Alki, Green Lake, or Golden Gardens, no later than 4 p.m. nightly.CAFETERIA LEECH-INDUCED ANEMIA Small, blood-sucking parasites are commonly found in the lunch rooms of many prestigious companies, including Amazon and Starbucks.Symptoms Lethargy, napping during meetings, lying in fetal position beneath desk, failure to return phone calls or respond to e-mail.Rx Red meat, preferably grass-fed organic beef, should be administered nightly after preparation over open flame.GOITER IN YOUR SHORTS Constrictive office attire makes this more than a minor workplace nuisance.Symptoms Bow-legged walking and stiffness. Constantly telling colleagues, "I've got a goiter in my shorts." Extra pillows on office chair.Rx Comfy, roomy shorts should be worn in a sunny, breezy, well-ventilated environment. (Condition will continue to fester indoors.) Alternative therapy: sundresses, kilts, caftans.POWERPOINT-INDUCED PSYCHOSIS Common among marketing professionals and software developers.Symptoms Tics and spasms during PowerPoint presentations. Tourette's Syndrome–like utterances of "This is fucking stupid!" and "Goddamn pie charts tells us nothing!" Making shadow puppets in front of projector.Rx Patient should be removed, gently, from darkened conference room to open, grassy, non-claustrophobic environment, preferably with access to bocce-ball courts or croquet.STEVE-POOL-BY-PROXY SYNDROME (Note: Steve Pool himself does not suffer from this condition.)Symptoms Patient believes he is KOMO weatherman Steve Pool. (Or, in the case of women, KIRO-TV meteorologist Rebecca Stevenson.) Sudden, obsessive tracking and forecasting of the weather, to the exclusion of work, family, or social pursuits. Obsessively uses hand gestures to indicate storm fronts and pressure ridges as if standing in front of TV-studio blue screen. Patient believes he or she controls the weather.Rx The difference between actual weather and the weather in one's head must be gently reintroduced by direct contact with the weather in medically controlled circumstances. Lying on one's back in a grassy field, staring at the clouds, has proven an effective therapy.DISCLAIMER: Brian Miller is not a licensed physician, nor has he completed any medical training of any kind. But he has been treated in hospitals by board-certified psychiatrists and is socially acquainted with several doctors. Also, Patch Adams is his favorite

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