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Sometimes Sickness Can Be Funny, I Guess

March 14, 2014
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.3 John 1:2

Each day I obsess over the need to make every minute count in the classroom.  I want the students to get God’s instruction for the day.

It would also be nice if they didn’t get sick while I taught.

Alas, through two decades of teaching, I find that this often is not the case.  Hayfever hits.  Asthma attacks.  Nosebleeds occur.  With so many pupils of various immunities and energies, it’s inevitable that you’ll get the in-class infirmity.

But sometimes the events are so downright odd.

George was a new transfer student who was immensely tall but of an unpredictably delicate nature.  His fellow students took to him well enough, but I noticed after two weeks that he was gently but deliberately pushing them away.  He was homesick for his old school, and it was not only affecting his attitude, it was making him sick. Psychosomatic, I guess you could say.

“George, do you miss your old school?” I asked in private before class started.

“Yeah, and I wanna go back,” he said, frowning and looking down at his backpack.  “This place is nice,  but I had a lot of friends over at my other school. I just wanna go back.”

I nodded.  “I can understand that.  I was a child of multiple schools through my life.  I must have changed schools four or five times, often in the middle of the year.  Yes, it was hard,” I said.  “But in many of those cases the students were unkind or indifferent to me.  George, here you have others who want to be your friends.  Can you try to work it out?  Your anxiety is making you sick.”

“I know,” said the 16-year old.  “I just wanna go back.”

That very class, in the middle of a quiz, he stood up.  Like I said, he was a tall guy, so his ascension got everyone’s attention.

Urrrrrp,” he said out loud and started wandering aimlessly around the room.  I moved quickly toward him.

“You okay?”  Before I could get to him, he tipped over.  He fainted.  He had worked himself into such a pile of nerves that he was having a spell of some sorts.  And here he was, starting to go over.  I should have yelled “timber,” because the fall was going to be momentous.

And it was.  He crashed to the floor, dramatically, but fortunately, in somewhat of a straight-down sitting ‘plop.’  However, he took two students down with him, dragging them in order to keep his balance.  Two boys were ripped right from heir desks, pulled right out of their seats.  I had a Three Stooges-type pile in front of me.  I peeled away the boys and got to George.  “What is it, George?”

He looked at me with droopy eyes. “I wanna go home.”

That was the last day that I saw him as a student.  After calling his parents, he did indeed transfer back to his old school.

Karen, however, took a different course during class time.  I was deep in an explanation and really getting worked up in order to bring across a point when she raised her hand.

“Karen, I’ll take questions in a minute, but not until I finish this point.”

She kept her hand up and gave me urgent eyebrows, up and down.  Her eyes were going wide and wild.  “Take the notes off of the screen,” I said to the other students and looked at Karen again.  She was nodding toward the door while waving dramatically.  I followed her out into the hall.

“What is it?”

Her face looked like she was in shock.  “You got talking and I got so absorbed in the lesson I wasn’t thinking what I was doing.”

“What do you mean?”

She blinked.  “You know those clicker-type pens?  Well, while you were talking, I pulled one apart and took out the spring and stretched part of it out.”

“Why?”

“So I could clean my thumbnail,” she looked embarrassed so I didn’t pursue the ‘why’ part of the subject.  “That little metal spring looked like it could do the job, but I slipped.”  She held up her hand.  The long, loopy metal spring was clean through her thumb, with one neat drop of blood welling at the entry point.  I gasped.  “Why didn’t you head out the door immediately?” I said as I took her hand and surveyed the damage.

“I’m trying to hide it,” she hissed lowly so nobody could hear.  “This is embarrassing.  Please just pull it out quickly, okay?”  But as soon as I grabbed hold she yelped.

“To the nurse.  Right now,” I demanded.  “I’m getting Sara to go with you.”

“No, you’re not!” she squeaked.  “I don’t want anybody to know about this!” And she sprinted down the hall as fast as I had ever seen a student run, with that long, bouncy loopy spring wiggling hilariously in the air as she ran.

She ended up okay.  And I never did tell anyone.

Until now.

But it’s been so many years, I think she’ll be okay with it.  I think.

The most dramatic sickness, I must confess, happened with my students not in the classroom but on a late trip back on our school bus.  Night time had fallen on our long field trip and we were all exhausted.  Most kids were asleep – it was past ten in the evening.  One of the girls tapped me on the shoulder as we pulled down the exit toward a truck stop for a bathroom break.

1bbb“Shelly’s real sick, Dr. Zockoll,” said Ashley.  I turned around.

“Injured-sick or stomach-sick?” I asked, looking back.

“Stomach-sick,” replied Ashley.  “Real queasy, like vomit-sick.”

“We’re pulling into Flying J’s,” I said.  “Let’s get her off first, okay?”  Ashley nodded and headed to the back.

However, when the bus stopped and the teens unloaded, Shelly was not the first one off of the bus.  I stood next to the front door and looked past all the bleary-eyed teens filing past me.  Ryan stepped down and adjusted his hoodie in a rather agitated fashion, looked at me with a deep frown, and shuffled off toward the men’s room.  I couldn’t decipher that emotion.

Shelly stepped off of the bus next, woozy and wiping her mouth.

“Ashley tells me you’re sick,” I said.

“No, I actually feel better now,” she said, tired but brightening up a bit.

“Do you have, er, nausea?” I asked.  “Do you need to throw up?”

She looked at me with sleepy eyes.  “Well, I sure did about two minutes ago, and when everyone lined up to leave the bus, as I stood there I didn’t think I’d make it off the bus.  In fact, I didn’t.  I threw up.  But I feel better now that I did.”

I was glad she was better but I groaned at the thought of mopping vomit off of a bus floor  and seats in semi-darkness. “Uh, Shelly, on which seats did you throw up?  Or did you vomit in the aisle?”

“Oh, no, Dr. Zockoll,” she laughed lazily.  “Don’t worry, I didn’t throw up on the floor, ’cause I didn’t want you to have to clean it up.  Ryan was in front of me, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and so I pulled open his hood and leaned over and threw up in it.”

Yes, that’s exactly what she did.  No wonder poor Ryan was so agitated.

I’m going to close this post with a chuckle and prepare for class.  May God bless you with good health today.  But if you do get sick, let’s hope it is something you can laugh about later on.

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