Mansize agony of day with Trisha

7th May 2004 at 01:00
They told me I'd build up immunity to school-based superbugs by the end of my year as a newly-qualified teacher. They lied.

Fifteen years down the line, one child in my class sneezes and I get double pneumonia. Okay, not quite pneumonia, but streaming eyes, bunged-up nose and a voice hoarse enough that I've had to take today off school. Yes, I did call for medical assistance in the early stages, but refusing just to abandon my class at the drop of a hat yesterday proved a mega-problem.

Receptionist: The doctor might see you if you pop in at 10.30 and wait for a slot.

Me: Can't do, I'm a teacher.

Receptionist: How about five past two?

Me: No, I'm still a teacher. I can come after 4.30.

Receptionist: A week next Friday, then?

So this morning I phoned in sick and now I'm on the sofa with my duvet, hot-water bottle, bowl of chicken soup and box of mansize tissues.

As well as my new addiction to Vick's nasal spray, I've also developed the added complication of a full-blown guilt complex, a condition that seems only to affect teachers. Other professionals don't bat an eyelid at being off ill, but here I am, panicking because my planning folder is on the kitchen table instead of my desk, and worrying about who'll be covering my lessons. Bet the agency won't send anyone. Rarer than gold-dust and twice as expensive, supply teachers can be harder to find these days than weapons of mass destruction.

And daytime telly is just making me feel worse. There's only so much Trisha anyone can take, and I'm beginning to wonder if Perry Mason is part of a government plot to get the unemployed back to work as quickly as possible.

On top of all this, I'm a prisoner in my own home, too scared to stagger down to the shop for a fresh supply of Lemsip in case I get spotted by a parent who'll think I'm skiving. My only comfort (steam inhalations excepted) is the knowledge that staying at home today is, of course, a huge act of altruism on my part. By not spreading my germs round the staffroom, I'm single-handedly ensuring the continued good health of my colleagues and averting a major staffing crisis for my school.

No need to thank me, guys - I'll just suffer in silence. Now where did I put those flippin' tissues?

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