February 8, 2010

The School Nurse

We have discovered the school nurse.

Last Wednesday, I received a phone call at 2:50pm.

"Your daughter is in my office right now," I was told. "She says her stomach hurts."

I told the nurse that I would investigate the situation in exactly eleven minutes. School lets out at 3pm and we are the first bus stop.

"I actually need you to come to school to pick her up," the nurse continued. "It's against school policy to send sick children home on the bus."

I arrived at the infirmary to find my daughter giggling on an army cot. My daughter's equally sick friend Natasha was sitting next to her, braiding my daughter's hair.

"You look very ill," I observed.

"I think I am just hungry," my daughter replied.

The next day, the symptoms returned during recess.

"Camber says she doesn't feel good," the nurse reported. The nurse went on to tell me that she suspected a virus. That was the only way to explain how five girls from Camber's class came down with the exact set of symptoms at the exact same time.

"Are they all in your office right now?" I wanted to know.

The nurse confirmed that the demand for cots exceeded her supply.

I offered up my daughter's bed to one of the more seriously afflicted.

"Unless she has a gaping head wound or a fever," I told the nurse, "Send her back to class."

On Friday, I screened my calls, knowing that if I didn't pick up the phone, the nurse would call my husband at work.

Over the weekend as a family we listed the pros and cons of going to the nurse's office every day. Included on the "pros" list was the luxury of drinking water out of Snoopy-themed paper cups. At the top of the "cons" list was the loss of trust and television privileges.

Yesterday, Camber managed to stay healthy for the entire day. Today, however, was gym class. After running around the cafeteria for an hour, the lure of an icy beverage served in a Snoopy cup was too great for several first graders, including my daughter, to resist.

****
Are any of your kids frequent fliers at the nurse's office?

71 comments

me said...

I started an office pool the year my daughter Grace was in kindergarten - she went so often, they appointed her "President of the Nurse's Office". Don't worry - she grew out of it by the fourth grade. Until then, keep screening your calls.

The Roach's said...

How funny you posted this on the EXACT day that I get a call from my daughter's school saying that she was in the office with her head cracked open and they think I should come and get her!! A trip to the ER and 6 stitches later all is good!

Brian's mom said...

One time I got a call from the school nurse. I had actually sent my child to school with pneumonia.

Jen said...

Until they go to school I won't know. I on the other hand, during my Jr High years I frequented the nurses office with headaches. This was when it was still ok for them to give out tylonal. It'll be interesting to see when this stage will hit my little ones.

Colette said...

With my 4 kids, I think the nurse finally just put my cell phone on her speed dial. I swear they know her better than their own teachers! Another funny, real post. Love it!

GooChick said...

I've got a psudeo-sicky. The nurse calls and the first thing out of her mouth is, "You need to come and get your child". I then ask the obvious question like, What's wrong with her? Rarely can this medical professional tell me, other than a quick, "She doesn't feel good".

By the time my daughter gets in the car after I pick her up, she is maneuvering the radio, looking for her favorite station. After we arrive home she acts like it’s a snow day, thinking she can play games on the computer, watch TV and play with the dog. She is always disappointed when I inform her that coming home sick means camping out on the couch with the TV off.

Now, when I get “the call” I ask what her temperature is and if she’s throwing up, then I tell them to send her back to class.

High Heels and Aprons said...

Oddly, I got a phone call from the nurse's office this week too! My six yr old daughter's "stomach hurt". Classic. She then tells me that a girl who was sick last week, touched my daugher on the arm this week. She wasn't very happy about having to go back to class.

Ally @ High Heels & Aprons

Momfever said...

There's no nurse's office at our school, just a first aid kit. Maybe that's a good thing!

the thrifty ba said...

on a snow delayed day in high school, a bunch of my friends and i met at a neighbors to wait for the bus. one thing turned into another and we started launching my little (1st grade) brother across the room. after awhile he said his arm hurt and we all threatened to cut if off if he didnt stop crying. we sent him to school.
when we got home, we found out that my mom got a call at work from his school nurse and we had broke his arm. he still holds that against us 25 years later.

米色大衣 said...

Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you will not have a leg to stand on.............................................

SanitySrchr said...

What does it say when you talk more the school nurse than you do to your child's teacher? We even catch up on each other's personal lives...her son passed the engineering exam, they went to "this" store and "that" store and found great deals, etc. Mine are only allowed to "go home sick" in cases of death, dismemberment, or projectile vomiting.

WriterGrrl said...

My fourth grader LOVES to go to the nurse. And the nurse LOVES to call me. We're at the point where if they call to tell me my daughter threw up, I ask, "Did anyone SEE her throw up? No? Then send her back to class."

They think I'm truly heartless.

The Mother said...

Our school nurse stopped calling me when I refused to entertain anything that wasn't hemorrhaging or causing loss of consciousness as an excuse not to go back to class.

Renny said...

I used to be. I got awful headaches in the first grade. (I needed glasses and I was a high stress child, I've always been that way.) The school nurse, of course was Satan, so I didn't want to go. But I'd sit in class crying, which of course just makes headaches worse, and my teacher would send me down there.
One day the nurse called my mom and basically told her she was a bad mother. In front of me. I'm pretty sure my mom wanted to murder her. She sat me down and told me I needed to calm down and stop going to the school nurse.
Whenever you went to the school nurse in high school she asked if you were pregnant, no matter what the ailment. I think she asked the guys too. Every year they'd lose my birth certificate and I finally went to tell her my mom said she wasn't giving them another copy to lose, she asked if I was pregnant.
Once I went because I was in need of feminine supplies, she asked me if I was pregnant. I stared at her for five minutes without responding.

Margaret said...

I wish we had that where I went to school. I would have gone there all the time.

Anonymous said...

ME TOO!! The nurse kept calling saying my daughter had a bladder infection. Yet, she expereinced no symptoms except wanting to get out of school! After a copay and doctor visit that all proved to be negative, the nurse no longer calls me for silly 'get out of class' games!!!

trish said...

as a mom who has been called to pick up her child who "just doesn't look like she feels good"on more than one occasion, only to go home and have the child bouncing off the walls.....i totally get this. as a part time school nurse, i have to say, the one parent you don't call when something "is just not right but can't put your finger on it", is the one who will raise the biggest stink after the fact. i send plenty of kids back to class and you do get to know the frequent flyers, but if there is a question i always like to call the parent and let them be the one to decide whether the child gets to stay or go home.

kristina said...

My kids like to suddenly feel sick as soon as I pull into the parking lot to drop them off. Earlier this year my 9 year old son said, "I don't feel good" as soon as I put the van in park. I said, "Uh huh. Get to class." By the time I got home there was a voice mail saying he had thrown up.

Parenting Ink said...

Just wait till she's in 7th Grade and has cramps...

Tracie said...

not many things can make you laugh in the middle of doctoral comprehensive exams....but I needed one...and this was it....brilliant story!

RN Mama said...

Last week my husband had to pick my daughter up from school for (and I quote) "a stuffy nose." She also said she had a funny taste in her mouth, and she didn't like the way it made her feel.

Yeah, well I don't like the way it makes me feel when I have to leave work to pick up a healthy kid!

P.S. No nurse at my girl's school, just a blond secretary with a tramp stamp who likes to giggle a lot.

Cas said...

When I was in school..no one wanted to go to the nurse...she was a scary individual...One time I even fell and broke my arm and it was just hanging there limply and I still refused to go...but then someone hit it and I kinda passed out....I woke up in the dreaded nurses office...when I came back to school a few days later... I was famous for having survived the nurse! I never went back though.

Geezees Custom Canvas Art said...

My kids aren't at that age yet...but i hope it's not something i have to deal with either.

Christine said...

I've gotten my fair share of calls from the nurse's office from my daughter (only my daughter). My son is home sick today...I'm expecting a call simply because I'm sure she can't stand the fact that he's home watching TV without her.

I tried pulling the "if your too sick for school you're in bed all day with no TV" and it didn't work! She stayed in bed all day playing with toys. I'll have to think of something else.

Anonymous said...

Our secretary doubled as the "nurse" when I was in school. She wouldn't call your mom if you hadn't broken a bone, didn't have a temp over 100, or if you weren't throwing up (and someone had to witness the act. That rule led to a LOT of throwing up in class incidents.)

I only got to go home from school once, when we had a sub nurse, and that's because I had cramps so bad, I almost passed out at the office. She couldn't give me anything, so she called my mom to bring me an RX I had, and my wonderful mom just took me home.

The Girl Next Door said...

Sadly my kids did (do) frequent the Nurse, but it's usually with a cracked head or a fever. I'm good about sending them to school sick (not intentionally - ok maybe a couple times) !Now, however, they drive themselves home....

the emily said...

My son is still just in half-day kindergarten so he hasn't figured it out yet. But my sister-in-law's kids do it and they get the DAY in bed--literally cannot leave their bed except for the bathroom--AND loss of their technology day (they have all the bells and whistles of every video game console known to man along with several flat screens and only get to use it on Fridays) if they come home from school sick. They think verrry hard before they go to the nurse now.

Symply Me said...

Oh my goodness! I totally just wrote a blog post about this very thing last month! Seems as though my daughter and your daughter were separated at birth!

http://symmetry-in-motion.blogspot.com/2010/01/send-her-no-flowers.html

Rachel said...

YES!!! I wrote a similar blog about it at the beginning of the school year. http://rachelkuhtz.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-discovery.html

Cheryl said...

My kids are too young to try this yet. My mom would let us come home and camp out in our den, with blankets and the whole nine yards. BUT we had to do "mommy school work" -waaay harder than whatever we were doing in class, usually with tons of math problems, and inevitably had a book report at the end. I think I pulled that once.

Another Mean Mom said...

My kindergartner was there 4x one week, in the beginning of school. He and the nurse became fast friends. I also have a 3rd grader, who hadn't been to the nurse even 4x in 3 years!! Thankfully, the novelty eventually wore off for said kindergartner.
Thanks for a funny blog!

The Novelist said...

I used to fake ear infections all of the time. I got out of church and school all of the time!

Anonymous said...

I had to pick up my son last week. The teacher had told the nurse that my son had clear fluid running out of his ear. He had hit his head the previous weekend, so I was panicked, thinking he had a head injury (we had taken him to the ER when it happened, and he was fine). Took him to the dr, who said nothing was in his ears and wanted to know what the hell they were talking about. Found out later they saw water on his neck, which translated to EAR. scared me silly!

Courtney said...

Even worse than a frequent flyer in the nurses office is when the kinder TEACHER calls you to come retreive you "sick" child. I used to get calls a few times a week. At first I went, and he was always fine. She didn't like to deal with him so any excuse to get him outta there was taken. Bloody noses were my favorite! One day she called again and I had finally had enough, I yelled, she cried, she never called again. My work was very thankful.

Sandra said...

Very funny! I was a legitimate clinic-visitor in Kindergarten. I always had sinus infections and they'd make me run laps in gym. I'd get to coughing and throw up every time. And they'd have to send me home every day. My mom got smart and sent a note to school excusing me from gym and that took care of it.

For my 2nd grader, the rule is...if you feel bad enough for me to come pick you up, the next stop is the doctor. This has only happened one time and she ended up having strep (no symptoms but a slightly sore throat). However, she does frequent the clinic for band-aids, Neosporin and such!

Sarah@Neoteric.Traditional said...

No, but I'm pretty sure that's only because she goes to a little church school that doesn't have a nurse. If they aren't burning hot or vomiting the teacher handles it and sends a note home.

Jessica said...

I think the only day nurses are actually in their offices is Wednesday here is Utah. I'm serious. It was the same when I was attending school here long long ago. So, it's very simple here - you simply can't be sick or injured any day but Wednesday. ;)

adhocmom said...

All is remember about the school nurse is Mr. Yuck stickers. . "you're sick? You better put these stickers on all of your poison."
x
P
www.adhocmom.com

Rosemary said...

My 6 y/o nephew discovered 'the school nurse' too. The first time was legit, as he had a temp, and his mom had to come pick him up. The subsequent visits, the same week, however, were not. Belly aches, relieved with coke syrup. The kid isn't allowed soda, so he anticipated this daily! The next time the nurse called, I suggested she skip the coke syrup and try crackers and send him back to the class. On the way home after he had the crackers, I told him he was not to go to the nurse's office unless he had a broken arm, to which he replied with a sincere smile, he would go to the emergency room if that happened. Fortunately, he hasn't been back!

MMM said...

All through elementary and high school I was plagued with migraine headaches that induced vomiting. I had a few teachers who, when I told them I was about to vomit, would tell me to put my head down and see if it went away. They learned very quickly that when I said I was sick I meant it. Most of my teachers would skip the school nurse completely and tell me to call my mom NOW.

mama rose said...

We had a little problem with this not to long ago. I told my daughter and the nurse unless my daughter is hemoraging,vomiting or unconcious there is no reason for her to be out of class.

Anonymous said...

My youngest daughter is a great con artist and her teacher for the year has been forewarned. But that day there was a substitute and my daughter started writhing on the floor clutching her stomach saying it hurt and crying. She sent her to the nurse and of course they call me 20 minutes before school lets out to pick her up. So after picking her up and her brother since we are already at school we are walking to the van and my daughter starts hopping, then in the van she starts telling me how hungry she is and laughing and so on. When we get home we have a talk and come to find out she was just hungry and working it on the teacher. The next day I drove her to school and walked her into the office and made her confess and apologize for making them think she was dying of some deadly plague. Now they look at me strange every time I come in.

Rebecca is Thrilled by the Thought said...

I was a frequenter one year. I don't know why. It only lasted one grade level and then I never went to the nurse again. Who knows what was going through my little brain?

Kelli said...

If they call home for Perri, the world is coming to an end. She just does NOT get sick and when she does, it is bad. Tucker Man spends so much time sick that I'm never surprised when his school calls. Trouble is, he's never faking. :(

Ashley Welling said...

I am a teacher myself, and I have students (8th graders) say they need a drink or to go to the bathroom just to get out of class. Fortunately our school nurse is only here on Wednesday, and our secretaries are the best at noticing the phoney's!! But there are some kids who cry wolf too many times and when they actually are sick, no one believes them.

Anonymous said...

I was the worst. I have a charm necklace my mom bought for me that I got to buy a charm for every time I stayed through the whole four hours of kindergarten without going to the nurse's office. Kindergarten lasted for nine months. I have seven charms.

Love your blog!! I am a lax commenter, sadly. Hard to imagine, I know, considering what a dedicated young student I was.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

My daughter started doing this last year. After the 3rd call from the nurse I quickly went to pick her up and forced her to stay in bed for the rest of the day and all of the next day as well (even though she swore she was fine after the buses drove past our house on the first day). After missing a whole day of school, having back assignments to do, and missing all the family fun, and eating plain toast (so as not to upset her super sensitive tummy) she stopped using the nurse as a Get Out of School Free card.

Jen said...

See my post at www.peekabooprints.blogspot.com
It will prove that I am indeed the meanest mom as I actually ignored symptoms of a real illness for weeks suspecting melodramatics instead.

Rachel H. said...

SO funny you posted this...we have been dealing with this issue lately...
I just got a note from the nurse saying I needed to give my kindergartener pain meds...why, you ask? Well because she has tooth pain...not cavity tooth pain, but "might lose a tooth soon" pain.
Seriously.

And I have received numerous calls about supposed finger infections (hang nails...) and such.

grrr....

A said...

My olest is in Pre-K and has not figured out that she can get sent home yet. But I do get frequent calls just to inform me that my daughter is not able to make it through recess without injury. "Just calling to let you know that Bethany was running on the playground and ran right into another kid and they banged heads." She does however think that the school nurse is the bottom line though. She thinks everyone,from her little sister getting a scrape, to the neighbor being in labor needs to go the the nurses office.

Toni said...

Here is my rule to my kids regarding going to the school nurse. They must have one of the four B's: burning (with fever), broken, bleeding or barfing. If you do not fall into one of these categories, DO NOT GO TO THE NURSE! This rule was established when my 6 year old daughter (who is now 11) went to the nurse so many times during first grade that the nurse had to call me and talk to be about Caitlin abusing the going-to-the-nurse privilege.

Working Mommy said...

Oh...no...I was one of those kids!! Except I do believe that the water was served in a pink princess cup!! Good thing they don't use those at Camber's school or else she may never come home!

~WM

Sam said...

My son has been the worst to suffer from "aches and pains" particularly during after school basketball. Today when I went to pick him up, he was in his usual position of sitting on the bench looking miserable. I smugly assumed the "workings" of an ingenious eight year old, when in fact he puked all over me and my husband in the lobby on the way out! Just when I think I have their number...... they puke on me!!!

sarahandmatt said...

I just had that same experience. The nurse called me 1/2 hour before school got out to come get my daughter. You've got to be kidding me! Put that kid on the bus!!!

Sofia Lung said...

I had a friend who's mom would give them the sex talk every time they faked being sick. No one in her family faked being sick....

Cindy said...

Sounds like the "nurse" needs to go back to nursing school. What's the latin diagnostic term for "faking it"? Gobacktoclassitis?

We have one nurse for four elementary schools in our district. She's really good at diagnosing fake sicknesses!

ivoryspring said...

Jana,

I just stumbled across your blog - what a fun blog!!! I enjoyed your posts...

Anonymous said...

How lucky most readers are to send their kids to a school that actually *has* a nurse (regardless of whether that person's really a nurse)! Try asking for the nurse at many California public schools, and you'll find they haven't had one since the 1970s.

In my own experience as a stay-at-home dad, I have found that one or two trips to the doctor's office cuts way back on the kids faking being sick. Totally worth the co-pay.

Dee said...

Well my children come by it honestly. I am gifted in the "throwing up on demand" department, so I would frequently use this very fine skill to my advantage. What you don't believe I'm sick? *HURL.* What now? Now I just call the school nurse on the first day of school and tell them that unless my children are bleeding out of their eyes, they may return to class.

Kelly said...

Haha, that's hilarious. I'm a teacher and have certainly noticed these types of trends in my classes over the years!

Donna R said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. Having just rec'd my upteenth call from the clinic for my 12 year old..this time with a sore on her back that "won't stop bleeding" and yes, I am certain that my child does not have a clotting disorder, I spoke with the daughter and told her to stop scratching her back, put a bandaid on her bump and get back to class. I so needed this today. Of course, the sweet but naive nurse had probably called DFACS on me and the cops are waiting at home for me right now. LOL

Julie said...

my daughter LIVES for school and one day went to the office at lunch time because she wasn't feeling well...the nurse took her temperature and said that she didn't have a fever and sent her back to class. 15 minutes before school was out she went to the office and threw up and they put her on the bus and sent her home (a half hour bus trip) without even calling me!

Alyssa said...

I just stumbled across this blog. I was a frequent visitor to the nurse's office, but I wasn't faking it... My mom thought otherwise though. She did not learn until I was in fourth grade that I had kidney failure. LOL, sure explained the fatigue, tummy pains, nausea, and headaches.

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Anonymous said...

im a school nurse and I googled "school nurse how to deal with frequent flyers" and came across this, too stinkin funny. You are hilarious. Unfortunately I did not figure out how to deal with my student who has come to see me literally 73 times this year, but I had a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

My son is 14 and when he is sick he never tells anyone so when he does he is either really sick or trying to get out of something well he had soccet practice after school and he Hates it because It's hardcore practicing so he had went to the nurse at lunch at told her that he felt sick and she didn't do anything and sent him back to class ( my son faked once and got couaght so ) she thought he was faking so he went to soccer practice and when I picked him up he looked pale and had a fever of 102 and he threw up the rest of the night now I tell him if he is sick to go to the bathroom and text me to come get him

Fed up said...

I'm a School Nurse for the local High School here. I have a question for you moms. I get irritated seeing the same kids all the time with these vague complaints. No fever, nothing serious and so I send them back to class and they look at me like I have 3 heads. I have one kid (11th grader) that's in my clinic at least 3x a week. I have told mom he may have Bronchitis and needs to be evaluated and weeks later, same symptoms and no doctors visit. What do I do with these non-emergency cases and the ones where parents refuse to take them to the doctor? ughhhh Frequent flyers out the butt. I love my job but this is crazy. Any suggestions mom?

Anonymous said...

HS nurse: 99% of the time we know whether or not the child is sick or just wanting to get out of class. The HS I work in is in a not so desired area and often times I can't get ahold of a parent or guardian. Many of our kids live in a near by group home. A lot of the frequent flyers, I believe, just need some acknowledgment and attention, but many are just taking advantage. The ones that take advantage know very quickly that they are not to come to the clinic unless there is blood or some other sort of emergency. If they do their AP is made aware.