The time at summer camp when I was not a happy camper

Tonight’s blogapalooza challenge (and it”s definitely a challenge) is:

Write about a story you’ve never told to anyone before.

Nothing like sharing something novel about yourself on an Internet platform.  Or, if you’re like me and you like to talk, it can be hard to think of something that you haven’t actually told some one.  Not sure if this is exactly blog post material, but this is the first story that comes to mind.

When I was eight years old, my parents sent me to a two-week summer camp not far from Gurnee.  About a week into my stay, I developed a sore throat.  There was a physician and a nurse on staff at the camp, and one of my friends suggested that I check in with them.

The next morning I went to the doctor’s makeshift office and described my plight.  I don’t remember if he even looked at my throat or not, but he didn’t seem to believe me when I told him it hurt.  He took one of those plastic cups you use to measure liquid cold medicine and turned his back to me while he filled it with water in the sink.  He explained that many children were coming to him claiming to be ill, when in reality they were just homesick.

Giving me the mini-cup of water, he instructed me to drink it, explaining that it was “homesick medicine.”  I didn’t want to drink it, but I didn’t think I had much of a choice.

The next day, when I woke up, my throat was still hurting, so I went back to the doctor.  Again, he gave me “homesick medicine” and sent me on my way.

The next day, I woke up with food poisoning, as did several other campers.  This time, the camp counselors told me I had to go see the doctor.  When I appeared reluctantly before him, he asked “Aren’t you the one that’s been coming in the last three days?” He seemed impatient.  I didn’t want to be there any more than he wanted me there.

I explained why I had been sent there, and he looked like he was about to dismiss me again when a crowd came in behind me with the same complaint.  The culprit seemed to be the turkey a la king we had had for dinner the night before.  Let me tell you, despite the name of the dish, none of felt like royalty, and i have avoided anything called “a la king” ever since.

I don’t remember what, if anything, the doctor did for our food poisoning, but I guess it ran its course once we all got the offending food out of our systems.  My throat still hurt, though.

As the final weekend of camp approached, I finally got my break.  I came down with conjunctivitis.  Now diagnosed with a highly-contagious eye infection, the doctor had to take me seriously, at least.  He called my parents so they could pick me up.  At last, I was out of there.

That was my camp experience from hell.  My throat continued to ache for several days after I got home– more than a week actually.  I never told anyone else about it or my experience with the camp physician.  I figured if a doctor didn’t believe me, no one else would either.  To this day, though, I think I have an expectation that I won’t be taken seriously, especially by a medical professional,  if I have a legitimate health concern.

I’ve heard horror stories about untreated cases of strep throat.  Thankfully, I suffered no long-term effects from that episode at camp, so I’m assuming that pathogen wasn’t to blame.  I wish I could say the whole experience was just a bad piece of fiction.  Let’s just say I personified what it means not to be a happy camper.

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