prom and the soft stool incident
So it was I found myself walking by a nurse’s office in a local school and it brought back a flood of memories. What child didn’t occasionally fake a fever or cold to avoid a test or particularly unpleasant gym class? I certainly did, I know that. In fact … I probably did more than my share.
I can recall in grade school using the ol’ thermometer on the hot light bulb trick to get out of going. Occasionally I would hold it on too long and I’d end up in a tub of ice water because my temperature appeared to be 115 degrees. But as the years passed I got a little more sophisticated. After I’d used up the usual suspects; stomach flu (gastroenteritis), ear infection (otitis media), and strep throat (thank you Mr. Streptococci Bacteria), I was forced to become more resourceful in order to avoid a shift at educational factory. I guess it was about 7th grade where I was forced to give myself pink eye to dodge a chemistry exam. With the proper training I was soon able to vomit at will and in only an hour I could whip up a batch of diarrhea with the best of them. In turn my parents grew more sophisticated in treating such common ailments and the battle was on. They could disinfect and hydrate me like I was the 20 car pulling into the pits at Indy. If they thought a multivitamin and some fresh air was going to keep me healthy they had another thing coming.
By 8th grade I was no stranger to chickenpox, impetigo, or mononucleosis. I sprinkled in a few rashes and a dash of ring worm and managed to miss over 40 days of school. A master at work.
Then came high school. The school nurse, Miss Seagul, was ex-military and a big fan of ‘tough love’. She had been to numerous infectious hot spots around the globe and had seen it all. I had to up my game or face the misery of week after week of perfect attendance.
Freshman year alone I hit her with shingles, arteriosclerosis, fibromyalgia and Gullian Barre. She would see me coming down the hall and I could see a twinkle in her eye as she jumped up with her little black bag to meet me at the door and usher me into my own private decontamination chamber she had set up. I learned I couldn’t come light with her or I’d end up back in math class before I knew what hit me.
By sophomore year I was getting worried. She was almost getting cocky now… I was running out of ‘the good stuff’. I’d been trying to hold back pseudomonas and candida for when I really needed them but I’d blown through them both before Thanksgiving break. I needed something to get me through December and it was only a lucky chance encounter with some infected duck feces that I was able to contract avian flu. As I sat recovering on New Year’s Day I was at a loss.
Then I hit on it. The idea of ideas. Thus I began my long relationship with Sally (not her real name) at the CDC (Center for Disease Control… and yes, that is the real name) in Atlanta. I found my hook up. Not long after that I was stumbling into Miss Seagul with exotic influenzas and rare hemolytic infections. Soon it was nothing to collapse in her office with nothing less than the plague. THAT one certainly was a reminder to parents to get make sure their kids immunizations were up to date… sorry again Mr. and Mrs. Walsh but if Betty and Billy had had their shots they’d still be with us.
I made sure the cash was mailed and ‘Sally’ made sure the samples kept arriving at my door.
Senior year was special. Looking back I can’t believe it but I actually never completed a full day of school. Whether missing chunks at a time with botulism, dysentery, tetanus and typhoid fever or simply ducking out early with a simple anthrax scare (is that Bacillus Anthracis or are you just happy to see me leave?) I had sailed through with flying (albeit runny and oozing) colors.
Prom was especially poignant. Given I had missed so much school I never really fit in well so it followed that my pool of potential dates for the prom was quite limited. After agreeing to accompany a young lady to the event I at the last minute found myself unhappy with my selection. So, in the highlight of my sick career, I was forced to ingest tiny intestinal parasites called Coccidia, typically found in goats, that caused me to fill my tux with bloody foamy diarrhea. Looking back I just wish I had known it would take so long to have this symptom kick in… to not only save poor Cindy the embarrassment but save me the cost of cleaning the limousine. Who knew new upholstery was so expensive?
I guess we all have our idle remembrances. I still have the yearbook. I don’t care what follows “Most Likely To”… it’s still nice to be recognized.
So after a long wet hacking cough, for old times’ sake, I strode past the nurses office and back to my regular life. You know … I never did get my money back for the mastitis bacteria. (Get it? I don’t have udders! That one was for you ‘Sally’)