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Chuck Brooks' column: Teachers get sick, too

I'm sick today. Not a good day to be sick. Pep fest in three hours. Outside. In 90-plus heat. Dance tonight until 11:30. I felt a little less than average this morning. I thought it might be allergies. It's happened before. However, as this day has progressed, I now know it's probably something more than that.

It can't be, however. I have things to do.

Being sick is no fun as an educator. Not because educators get sicker than non-educators. I'm referring to the amount of work we have to do to leave proper directions for a substitute teacher to come in and take over. If we want the hour to be meaningful for the kids, we take a lot of time building sub plans. At least I do. I'm sure my subs think I have a real anal retention issue. My notes are fastidious. I'm sure the sub could figure out some of it on her/his own, but I make sure to cover all my bases.

I can remember over the years having to write sub notes under the worst of conditions. There was the time when Mom died and I had to create plans for five days. You might appreciate that making lesson plans for five days is the last thing we care about taking time to do knowing we're heading home to bury a family member.

I remember one night coming in at 2:00 in the morning. I woke up sick, and I knew then I wasn't going to be teaching five hours later. Also, if we want a sub, we need to file for a sub early enough or perhaps the school will have to fill from within. It's all a little messier when we're gone.

In English, truthfully, if you're reading a novel in class, it's a little nicer to be able to say, "Read." Not ideal, but helpful and kids appreciate reading time with their busy lives.


It is now Sunday night. 5:30 to be precise. I just sent in my sub plans. There will be no way I'll be able to teach in the morning. Have I got a weekend to tell you about!

So, the pep fest took place Friday afternoon. I was outside prepping for it 30 minutes early. It was warm. I believe 93 degrees warm. I was feeling horrible, and the sun wasn't helping. The kids came out and we pulled it off somehow. By the time I got into the building, I thought I'd never cool down. Next on the docket was the dance.

The dance would be without me. I felt so miserable, no matter how dedicated I try to be, taking care of me has become a priority recently. I was chilled all night. Crawled into bed early and tried to sleep, but it wasn't working very well. When I did sleep, I'd wake up, hoping time had passed but no such thing. Five to 10 minutes each and every time. Longest night of my life.

The next day, Saturday, I went to urgent care. Ran into one of my new freshmen there. He thought he had a broken wrist. I'm sure he thought I was near death. If you've been through UC, then you know the routine. The doctor finally came in to the little room. Talked to me about my issues, but I thought, "Just listen! You can hear I'm sick!" I had little patience. Based on what I told him, he felt it would be best to do a CAT scan of my neck. My neck was so thick, talking was getting harder and harder. I had a 103 temp. He was concerned there was an infection deep in the neck he wouldn't be able to identify with his own approach. He also did a strep test.

I walked over to the scan area of the clinic and got on the bed, obviously concerned, and let the lady do what she had to do. Then I was told the results would be sent to United but we'd hear soon. Such wasn't the case. When it was all over, I was there nearly four hours. Final verdict was strep test positive and scan normal. The scan showed very swollen lymph nodes, so perhaps that's why I still feel less than I had hoped for. The doc said today, Sunday, would still be tough but Monday I'd see some improvement.

Our absences as educators impact about 170 lives. I also should be there to take student council applications from students, but it just won't happen. Being gone is never easy.

I guess I am hoping you simply gain a little more insight into our lives regarding absences.

We'd like not to be missing but sometimes, there's no choice. Time now for another pill. Toodles.