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Being sick/ill at school when you were young

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johnnychips

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This is a polite euphemism for vomiting. I am 60 years old and seem to remember quite a few, maybe six times a year, days of my primary school years being off with this ailment, which was cured by a day in bed vomiting until I could face dry toast and an Oxo cube in water. At the same time, kids always seemed to be vomiting at primary school, which was resolved by Mr Peart the caretaker arriving with a bucket of sawdust and the kid being placed in a cupboard with a bucket until they could be picked up.

I taught in a secondary school for thirty odd years and I can remember the number of kids vomitIng on the floor on the fingers of both hands, and I shared a room with ‘matron’ for a few years and it hardly happened. Now obviously this was a secondary school, but I just wonder if and why it seems less prevalent. Obviously views from parents who have or had primary school kids would be very interesting.
 
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I'm similar vintage to @johnnychips and remember similar experiences.

However some differences for me were:
  1. I was probably home from primary school with a "stomach bug" only once, at most twice, in any given year.
    (I can still vividly remember the soft-plasticy smell of our (empty) 1960s-era bucket, whilst lying on the settee feeling very queasy and waiting for the inevitable chunder).
  2. I don't think I ever vomited whilst at school, neither primary nor secondary school.
  3. I don't particularly remember other children at my primary school vomiting very often either.
  4. At secondary school, assembly in the school hall was the most likely venue. It got quite hot and congested with the whole school in there, and several times a year someone would throw up during assembly. This is more frequently than the OP's observations during his teaching career.
    My rule-of-thumb was that around two out of three occasions it would be a girl, one out of three a boy.
    The incident resulted in "the patient" being escorted out by one of the more sympathetic female teachers, and the immediate "as if by magic" appearance of Jimmy the Janitor in flat cap and bib overalls with red metal fire bucket filled with sawdust. Was he waiting outside the hall doors just in case?

I wonder if the reduced prevalence in more recent times is due to improved food storage/handling practices?

For example, when I was at primary school we had no fridge at home. Items like boiled ham and sliced tongue for use in sandwiches were bought more or less as required from the corner shop at the end of the street. But back then the slightly shabby local shops didn't store their cooked meats in a fridge either, so you relied on quick turnover and the operation of multi-coloured plastic fly strips on the shop's door in summer.
We also had those 1/3 pint bottles of school milk (until Thatcher appeared), which in summer could sit in crates in the sun until distributed at morning break.

Having said that, even with modern food hygiene and universal refrigerated storage, in one of the branches of my family I have both a great-niece and great-nephew who each seem to be frequently off school or unable to come to family events because of upset stomachs. However my other half-dozen great-nieces and nephews don't seem to get sick any more frequently than I did at primary school age.
 
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yorksrob

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And don't even get me started on the school coach trip.

Who you ended up sat next to could be a case of vomit roulette !
 
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Mag_seven

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I don't recall vomiting at school but I do recall being off for what I think was several weeks with the mumps - take it from me you do not want the mumps!
 
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And don't even get me started on the school coach trip.
Yes, a normal school coach trip could be bad enough.

My primary school once did a week's holiday for its older pupils from Wigan to a holiday camp at Westward Ho! in Devon.
The supply of sick bags brought onto the coach by the teachers had been used up by the time we got to Bristol - and that was on the motorway part of the journey.
On the twisty roads beyond Bristol, in the days before the M5 went through, it was carnage! I wished I'd brought my wellies.
 

yorksrob

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Yes, a normal school coach trip could be bad enough.

My primary school once did a week's holiday for its older pupils from Wigan to a holiday camp at Westward Ho! in Devon.
The supply of sick bags brought onto the coach by the teachers had been used up by the time we got to Bristol - and that was on the motorway part of the journey.
On the twisty roads beyond Bristol, in the days before the M5 went through, it was carnage! I wished I'd brought my wellies.

That sounds horrific. They'd have been better off booking a railway carriage for that sort of journey !
 

lxfe_mxtterz

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I don't think I ever vomited at school, but I sure do have a plethora of rather revolting memories burned into my poor mind. One of the worst was during a music lesson wherein the teacher had instructed us to perform some "pat your head, pat your stomach" routine whilst singing. The latter part of which resulted in the boy standing next to me spewing all over the carpet, causing the rest of us to engage in a Euston-esque scramble into the cupboard at the back of the classroom. Alas, we abandoned the classroom and spent the rest of the day learning outdoors in the cold. How fun!

And don't even get me started on the school coach trip.

Who you ended up sat next to could be a case of vomit roulette !
Oh, the joys of having someone throw up all over the back of your seat. The journey was only about 10 minutes too!
 

Typhoon

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This is a polite euphemism for vomiting. I am 60 years old and seem to remember quite a few, maybe six times a year, days of my primary school years being off with this ailment, which was cured by a day in bed vomiting until I could face dry toast and an Oxo cube in water. At the same time, kids always seemed to be vomiting at primary school, which was resolved by Mr Peart the caretaker arriving with a bucket of sawdust and the kid being placed in a cupboard with a bucket until they could be picked up.
I can remember the sick bucket, assistant caretaker, who I can picture but not name. I cannot remember whether it was sawdust or sand in the bucket. She certainly had a long handled spade. In our case it didn't help that it was a Victorian Primary School with outside toilets. I can't ever remember being sick but certainly there were times when I felt sick; sitting in the cloakrooms, surrounded by wet coats, when it rained for far too long with little fresh air; smog, barely being able to see who was in front of you; passing a couple of factories belching smoke on the way to school.
No-one had phones round our way, you had to stick it out and hope that a friend would see you back safely

My illness of choice was tonsilitis, at least once a term. A couple of days of misery (including a visit to the doctor to be prescribed penicillin), then a couple of days milking it with the hope that I didn't have to go back on Friday. Neck wrapped in a scarf which held a pad doused in some pleasant smelling liquid my grandmother swore by.

I don't recall vomiting at school but I do recall being off for what I think was several weeks with the mumps - take it from me you do not want the mumps!
Yes, mumps, measles, German measles, chicken pox. Anything like that was definitely bad news; school was definitely better than them. Once in an area they spread like wildfire.
 

Crossover

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I'm in my early 30's and don't recall that many instances of vomiting at school. I can remember one classmate being unwell and throwing up in the corridor between the classroom and toilets when at infant school, but that is about all. I can only recall ever being sick once, overnight, resulting in a couple of days off school, but that must be at least 20 years ago (I am pretty sure I wasn't at secondary school at the time)

I know my Mum has said that she used to be unwell more regular as a kid. I do wonder better understanding and storage of food has helped to alleviate food poisoning a bit in te intervning years, alongside generally better sanitation.

The worry is, of course, that with the way things currently are in the world, it could, in the longer term, have the opposite effect leading to weakened immune systems for a future generation
 

ABB125

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I don't remember ever being sick at school, although it may have happened. o_O

I can remember other people being sick.

I very rarely was off school due to illness, especially when I was older. I can only think of one day for the entirety of years 9 to 13!

I don't remember anyone being sick on a coach, but it probably happened.
 

Bungle158

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I attended a Catholic primary school back in the early 60s. We were traditionally given our 11 plus results on a Friday afternoon after being dragged off to mass around lunchtime. All too much for me, l fainted during the service and was hauled out by a lurking nun. Sadly, l only made it to the porch before vomiting copiously over her and the stacked up hymnbooks.

Amazingly, l passed.
 

Cowley

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I attended a Catholic primary school back in the early 60s. We were traditionally given our 11 plus results on a Friday afternoon after being dragged off to mass around lunchtime. All too much for me, l fainted during the service and was hauled out by a lurking nun. Sadly, l only made it to the porch before vomiting copiously over her and the stacked up hymnbooks.

Amazingly, l passed.
Wonderful! :lol: (Although maybe not for the nun)
 

GusB

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At primary school I don't recall any issues personally, but I do remember one year there was a spate of fainting, particularly during choir rehearsals. We took part in the annual district music festival every two years and our school always had entries in the junior, senior and Scots choir sections. If you were (un)lucky enough to be in the crossover period between junior and senior it meant a lot of rehearsals. It was probably one of those years where it was unseasonably warm in the spring, although I can't for the life of me remember exactly when it was.

There was one incident I can remember from secondary school. If you're eating breakfast cereal right now, you may wish to skip this bit.

I'd woken up one morning, feeling absolutely fine. Showered, got dressed and caught the bus into town. English was my first class of the day, if I recall - Mr Strokey-Beardy was the teacher. All of a sudden I just felt the urge to heave. I managed to raise one hand, covered my mouth with the other and made a dash for the door. I made it as far as the toilets, but not quite as far as the pan - the sink was the closest receptacle. Kellogg's revenge! I felt quite embarrassed about having completely blocked the sink, but Mr B had obviously realised what was going on and called the janny. I spent about an hour in the school nurse's office while arrangements were made to get me home. I felt awful for a couple of days after that, but it turned out that there was a bug going round
 

nlogax

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I never chucked up at school but I remember some of the poor sods that did. The bucket of sawdust and the sharp smell of bleach in the hallways were always a sign of someone having been ill, it's one of those weird things you never forget!
 

OuterDistant

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It was rare at our primary school until I was around 10, when a vomiting bug went around the school and affected so many of us that we ended up as a story on Central News. Unfortunately I was out of shot in the bit where they filmed at lunchtime.

This was in the early 90s.
 

Strathclyder

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I was off school (primary and high) fairly often (on average once a month) with upset stomachs and/or headaches. Could be off for days at a time. Don't remember ever throwing up, though there's a good chance I did at least once. Same with school trips: don't recall upchucking, but I could get headaches pretty easily (I travel more or less fine by bus nowadays, have never travelled particularly well by car though).
 

Willr2094

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When I was at primary school in the mid to late 90s/early 2000s, I don't have that many memories of being ill there l though I do have memories of other kids in my classes being ill. From what I can remember I generally managed to hang on in there through to the end of the school day.

There was one day in Year 5 where I had a cold/flu type illness and nearly had to go home but I managed to make it through to the end of the day.
 

Charlie2555

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I had 14 years of school, and did not miss a single day in all those years. Other students, however... My mum said she knew a girl in her school, who was off sick often, people used to joke about her, until one day, they were told she had died. I try not to be judgemental!
 

TheEdge

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I never vomited at school but I did get a month off for catching Henoch-Schönlein purpura which was fun. A month of arthritis like pain in my knees, purple rashes across my body, peeing blood, stomach pain and a warning from my doctor to tell my parents immediately if I had a bad tummy ache as that might have been serious gastrointestinal bleeding.

On a plus side I have a cool letter from Shrewsbury NHS Trust advising that the pediatric specialist had been happy to see me but sadly the disease was to advanced for me to be part of a medical trial and I would be referred back to my GP for periodic checks on my kidney functions.
 

Bevan Price

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I don't remember vomiting at school, but caught measles, mumps, chicken pox & whooping cough whilst at junior school -- the latter meant about 10 weeks off school, kept away in case I was infectious to other pupils. Never had a day off sick for the first 5 or so years at secondary school -- then caught real flu - not the so-called 3 day flu which was just a common cold. I was off for 3 weeks, and after I recovered, the GP told my mother I had had "a touch of pneumonia".
 

yorkie

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...- then caught real flu - not the so-called 3 day flu which was just a common cold...
Unless you got a test there is no real way to be certain what you have.

It's a complete myth that flu infections always result in being very ill; in fact as many as 50% of infections with normal flu may be asymptomatic and many more have mild symptoms

On the other hand, it is possible (though unlikely) to be very ill with one of the Rhinoviruses or Coronaviruses that are referred to colloquially as the "common cold"; a colleague of mine was put in a Covid ward until their test result came out negative and they tested positive for Rhinovirus. Her daughter also had worse symptoms from the Rhinovirus than with Sars-Cov-2.

I must be exposed to a lot of viruses but If I get ill it tends to be due to stress and worrying; merely being exposed to a virus by itself doesn't seem to make me ill.

(Our Government seems to be determined to harm our wellbeing at the moment, but that's another topic :()

This thread is worth a read too: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/am-i-lucky-with-viruses.203890/
 
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Journeyman

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I remember being sick at school a couple of times - once when I was at primary school, and vomited copiously over a copy of Ladybird book 5a (Peter and Jane on board a train on the cover). My parents felt bad about it and bought a replacement copy for the school! Other time was when I was about 15, and had a McDonalds breakfast on the way to school. By mid-morning it seemed to have poisoned me, and I got to see it again!
 

Cowley

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I remember being sick at school a couple of times - once when I was at primary school, and vomited copiously over a copy of Ladybird book 5a (Peter and Jane on board a train on the cover). My parents felt bad about it and bought a replacement copy for the school! Other time was when I was about 15, and had a McDonalds breakfast on the way to school. By mid-morning it seemed to have poisoned me, and I got to see it again!
I mean of all the books to do that too!
 

ATW Alex 101

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Throughout my school life, particularly infant and primary school, there was always somebody being sick! I remember once around reception a member of our class threw up in the classroom and the teacher placed a flat cardboard box until it could be cleaned up.

On another occasion my mate sat next to me at lunchtime decided to throw up whilst I was halfway through my sandwich. Charming!

But I can’t say I ever vomited at school. I had days off for various reasons such as cold or chest infection and I have been excused from PE as a result of sporting injuries, but as far as I can remember, I was never actually sick during school hours.

Worth mentioning though, there was always a kid prone to nosebleed!
 

galwhv69

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Remember being off school quite a bit as I had chickenpox 3 times within one school year back in primary
Although in Secondary, I managed to vomit all over the medical room! So much that the nurse didn't want to come back in for a good 30 minutes :oops:
 

jb108822

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I'm quite lucky in that I never spent much time off school due to being sick. I think I had a couple of days off in Year 1, then three days in Year 3, and three days in Year 6 (funnily enough, the latter two were both in December, so I guess it must've been a winter bug of some sort). No time off in secondary school for illness, though I did take one day off sick when I was in college. I was often sent to school if I had a sore throat, which may not have been the best of ideas from my parents! I've also never taken a day off sick from work, and have sometimes dosed up on Lemsip if things are that bad. I can never really remember actually vomiting at school or on school trips, thank goodness. There was the odd school trip where someone was sick, but such occurrences were as rare as hens' teeth. Had the odd hospital appointment over the years, but most people have had them, so they probably don't count to the same extent.
 

J-2739

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Back in primary school, I'd try not to take time off sick (even if I was), since at the end of the school year, those who hadn't been absent would be given Amazon gift cards!
 

randyrippley

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This is a polite euphemism for vomiting. I am 60 years old and seem to remember quite a few, maybe six times a year, days of my primary school years being off with this ailment, which was cured by a day in bed vomiting until I could face dry toast and an Oxo cube in water. At the same time, kids always seemed to be vomiting at primary school, which was resolved by Mr Peart the caretaker arriving with a bucket of sawdust and the kid being placed in a cupboard with a bucket until they could be picked up.

I taught in a secondary school for thirty odd years and I can remember the number of kids vomitIng on the floor on the fingers of both hands, and I shared a room with ‘matron’ for a few years and it hardly happened. Now obviously this was a secondary school, but I just wonder if and why it seems less prevalent. Obviously views from parents who have or had primary school kids would be very interesting.
Back then few homes had fridges, and there was no plastic packaging. Raw meat was stored on plates in larders protected by bloody paper bags, next to other foodstuffs. Besides that post-war rationing mindsets meant food leftovers were more likely to be hanging around for days to be reused. General understanding of hygiene was low, and washing facilities were often limited. Some of the council houses in the Somerset villages I come from only got inside toilets, baths and a hot water supply on the 1970s. As a small kid I got a bath once a week in a galvanised bath tub in front of the fire with water heated in the laundry "copper"
 
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