“LEAN” or What I Learned in School Today

Eileen N. Phall

Eileen N. Phall

Amazing what I learn in school in these days! I showed up at school Friday pretty sick – but you know, I just cannot call in sick again. It just doesn’t look good on my evaluation. I missed five days last month because I was on my deathbed with The Black Plague Round 1. Upon my return, I wasn’t asked how I was faring. I wasn’t asked if I was better, and I wasn’t even asked if I was contagious. All my principal had to say during my evaluation meeting two days after my return was, “I’m concerned about the number of your absences.”

Smart ass that I am, I looked him dead in the eye and explained, “I would rather be healthy at work any day than sick in bed like I was.” He didn’t bat an eyelash. Just continued to stare me down like I had committed a crime because I was out sick.

I started coming down with phase two of this nasty, God-forsaken, beast of germ on Thursday. My first inclination was that it just had to be allergies. I couldn’t possibly be sick AGAIN, not so soon after I just got over the first round. My throat, which felt like it had been razored clean from the inside out, confirmed the awful verdict on Friday morning when the blasted alarm just wouldn’t shut up. I have four set, two on my phone and two on my clock. I have a very difficult time rising at 5:00 am, aka dark-thirty. I just feel it’s inhumane to have to interrupt the best sleep zone of the night – the darkest before dawn.

Knowing I had to go in to work, I dragged my poor, infirm body to my classroom. At least it was Friday and anyone can get through just one day. The worst part about Black Plague Round 2 is the cough. The best way to describe it is you can cough and hack in all sincerity, but you just cannot get “under” the cough. So what happens is that it turns into a dry, wheezing, whooping kind of cough not unlike the childhood disease I once witnessed, whooping cough. It’s horrible. I hope you are feeling sorry for me at about this point! After the said coughing spasm, there is zero voice left with which to do my job – teach.

Caution: May cause LEAN

Caution: May cause LEAN

Right in the middle of my second period class, THE cough came on. It was the soul-wrenching kind of cough that involved all of my body parts from my toes to my brain, but produced no success. My eyes teared up like I was a blubbering crybaby. I coughed for about three minutes straight, without air to my brain. I had to leave my class. I returned with no eye make-up on, and I wear waterproof! It evaporated right from my face. My throat was a by-product of the Sahara Desert. Coca-Cola is a wonderful cough remedy in case you ever need one. The only bad thing is that you have to constantly suck it down. The return action is the need to make tracks to the restroom for a voiding session, which is a very inconvenient affair for a classroom teacher.

Some of my students asked if I had been to the doctor and I told them I had an appointment after school. With GREAT interest, one of my boys asked if I was going to get some “LEAN.” I told him I would love to have some of that – make me thin and svelte! “NO,” he said. “Some LEAN,” and he proceeded to lean over – like he was going to fall right out of his desk. Apparently, the new high for high school kids is cough syrup with codeine! They put in their Sprite along with some Jolly Ranchers to add “bling.” Then they sip on it to look cool (and get high, although the result for me is a low). Along with Lean, they call it “Dirty Sprite.” He said I could sell my bottle for about $300. Just in case you are wondering, I need my Lean more than I need $300 and an arrest record. (Did you really doubt me?!)

My physician’s assistant was very thorough in her examination, confirming that I am indeed sick and that I’m not suffering from allergies. She gave me a prescription for a Z-pack and some “Lean.” I shared my newly learned “Lean” info with her and promised I wouldn’t sell it.

In the meantime, I had her look at my eye – remember my post, FrankenStye? Well, it seems that it wasn’t a sty and the base of the thing is still there, located right in the center of the crease of my eyelid. She got weirdly excited when I told her about how it looked like a yeast roll flopping over my entire eye. “Oooh, I wish you would have come in to see me. I would love to have seen that!” She was a little too interested in what it may have looked like, kind of “mad scientist-ish.” I whipped out my smart phone and showed her the picture I took of it in case I needed some evidence for my principal when I called in for the fifth day in a row. “Yep, that’s a virus! Not a sty.”

I wasn’t real happy to know that I have a virus in my EYE! She assured me that after the swelling goes down, it’s practically as good as gone. She recommended hot compresses to completely bid it adieu.

So right before bed last night, I took a dose of my Lean. About an hour later, the coughing was all but history. I was able to sleep for eight straight hours. I awakened with a stage 5 migraine headache, my lungs drowning in that nasty shit that just won’t expectorate and my eyes glued shut. I felt worse than all the ill days combined with The Black Plague Round 1. The ONLY good thing about the morning was that it was Saturday and I didn’t have drag my poor, Black Plague-plagued body back to work.

I crawled out to the kitchen to get some Joe brewing. The daughter was fixing breakfast, turned around and exclaimed, “Oh wow! You look pretty rough.”

Thanking her, I told her I felt like I had tuberculosis. Continuing with my woes, I explained the headache, the awful “fullness” in my lungs, and the fact that I just wanted to crawl back to bed, but I really was in dire need of coffee. Studying me, she figured out my problem. I don’t think you are as sick as you think you are. I think you have a “Lean-over!”


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