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  • Rachel Anne Baer

Sick Day

#sickday #childhoodmemories #bedrest #ringthatbell #bigben

These past few days I've been feeling a little under the weather, which is the British way of understating the fact that I feel pretty crappy. I was just over a weekend cough, had enjoyed one day of feeling myself and along came a bad cold.


As I snuggled under a blanket on the sofa with a hot lemon and honey drink I was reminded of when we were sick as children. As long as I weren't just faking it to get off school (something I only managed successfully a couple of times) my mum would settle me into bed with a glass of water, keeping the curtains drawn so that I could rest. Every now and then she would come in to see how I was doing, she might sit with me a few minutes or if I had a fever there would be a cool flannel on my forehead. If my brothers were asleep or playing quietly downstairs I might get lucky and she would read a chapter of a favorite book to me.


A snack would be brought up, then a light lunch depending on how sick I was, a glass of Ribena (blackcurrant drink) or the awful fizzy drink that was sold at the time to revive sick children from their beds. It was a tall glass bottle, with bright orange liquid inside it, the marketing slogan was I think "Lucozade aids recovery" I was surprised to find that this stuff still exists although it has been re marketed to be a sports/fitness drink rather than one associated with sickness. Some of my friends loved the stuff but it was far too sickly sweet for me.


Only when we were considered genuinely ill, meaning that we were too sick to get out of bed were we given the dubious honor of having the "bell" placed on our nightstand next to the bed. We were only allowed to ring it only when in genuine need, if we needed another drink or if we felt too ill to be left on our own. If I dared to ring the bell (the handle of which was formed to the shape of Big Ben) when the need was not considered dire enough I would be declared better and well enough to go back to school the next day, we children soon learned to ease our way back into full recovery.


I have vague memories of one or another parent sitting in a chair next to the bed during the night on particularly bad occasions. I later discovered I suffered from croup and whooping cough as a young child. I remember having several unpleasant sessions a day leaning over a steaming bowl of water my head covered in a towel as some kind of menthol capsule was added to the steamy water to help me breath. I think I could do with that now!


It's funny how I remember the bell, I discovered where it was kept once quite by accident when I was on my own in the house and nosing through the cupboards in the dining room. Partly out of interest partly from boredom, I spotted it just inside a hard to reach cupboard, I did reach out and touch it gently, afraid to pick it up just in case my mother somehow manged to hear it jangling from far away, knowing that she was sure to notice if it was moved even an inch and I would be in trouble for poking around where I was not supposed to be.


I did continue the bell tradition with my own boys for a few years until they used to ring it regardless of whether they were sick or not. It became a game and a joke in the family for awhile when they would ring the bell for "service" whenever they felt like they could get away with it. Needless to say the bell disappeared from use and I have no idea what happened to it. Right now I am wondering if it should be reintroduced so that someone else can bring me hot drinks and snacks, just no Lucozade.


Did you have a family routine when you were ill as a child? A "sick bell"? Surprisingly looking back although being sick is never fun this did bring back good and happy memories.

Hopefully it will do the same for you.


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