Adventure, Canada, Manitoba, Uncategorized

First Day Teaching – Norway House, Manitoba – Anyone Up for a Hospital Visit?

Norway House, Manitoba

As a teacher for over 8 years, my journey was filled with countless emotions, often at the same time. The first day of the school year can set the tone for the entire year. It can be a stressful day, but when you add a first day curse things can get out of hand. I’ve experienced the craziest first days during my career. They are powerful enough to make you question entering the teaching profession altogether. Follow me on my first days of disaster and teaching in Norway House, Manitoba.

Norway House, Manitoba – Anyone Up for a Hospital Visit?

I arrived in Norway House just early enough to catch the local flu bug that was going around. It was the the first day of school so I wasn’t exactly going to call in sick. The thought of a first day curse crossed my mind after my experience in Shefferville, Quebec but I quickly diminished it and went about planning my day. Norway House was going to be different.

My first strategy was to eat as little as possible before heading to work. I had been throwing up everything that went into my stomach. I wasn’t prepared to vomit on one of my students. My second goal was to dress in warm clothing since I suffered from chills for two days. Finally, I was going to arrive early to settle in to my classroom and prepare for the day. I wanted to create as little interruption as possible so I made this plan of action, but it turned out to be a long list of disastrous choices.

I arrived at the school 40 minutes before my first class and the introductory presentation in the gymnasium.

Walking into my classroom was like stepping into a sauna. It was hot! The heat was cranked and bellowing out of the vents like the stacks of a steam ship. Dressing in layers was a great idea but the layers themselves were ill prepared. I had a blazer on over a long sleeve dress shirt, but no option for the heat that hit me like a ton of bricks. I took off the blazer, took several deep breaths, and searched for the thermostat.

Why is it that I can’t seem to figure out how to work these nasty things? 

I fiddled with the dial but it didn’t make any difference; the heat was on a mission to take me down and it was succeeding at a frantic pace.

I opened the window and sat next to it until the bell rang for class.

Just stay calm and you’ll cool down. 

The students entered the classroom and we were the first group to be called to the gym. They left their belongings in the classroom and we headed toward the hall and down the ramp to enter the welcoming presentation. Just leaving the blazer off was not going to cut it. I needed some other form of cooling off and feeling better.

As we entered the gym, I remembered that there was a soda machine by the offices. I waited until my students were seated and returned to the hallway to get a soda.

I’m not sure if any of you have passed out before, but there is this feeling that comes over you. Your body feels tingly and your vision, along with your hearing, starts to blur. It’s a quick process and sometimes you can sit down or rest on something to make it pass; this was not one of those times.

I walked up the wheelchair ramp and felt the familiar sensation of “I’m going to pass out.” To avoid the episode, I reached for the railing in an attempt to rest until it passed.

I woke up on the floor, confused and disorientated. Standing over me, like an angel, was a mass of blonde hair and blue eyes.

I wiped my eyes and thought, “Oh, thank God. This is just a dream,” but I wasn’t so lucky.

The principal, Mrs. Mowatt, said, “Lesley. Are you ok? You passed out and your on the floor. I grabbed you a chair. Can you get up and into it?”

“Um. Ok”

I sat on the chair and she strongly suggested that I go to the hospital to check things out. She said that another teacher, I will not use his real name and you’ll eventually understand why, lets call him Mark, could take me to the hospital since he didn’t have any students next period. If things took longer than that, she would look after everything.

In a state of embarrassment and pride, I said that I was fine and I’d like to continue with the rest of the day. What I was really thinking was that I has already met Mark and he was a creeper who was only interested in getting into women’s pants. There was no way that I was going to the hospital with him.

That’s when she showed me a mirror and my pride and embarrassment, and worries about riding with Mark, turned to fear. I must have smashed my head on the railing and I was bleeding excessively around my brow line. I was unconsciously wiping the blood out of my eye in a state of shock. The bruising was already starting to develop. I really did need to go to the hospital. All other concerns would have to be placed on the back burner.

We arrived at the Norway House hospital and I was a last priority for them even though I was bleeding from the head and had a nasty gash on my leg as well as some serious swelling from the fall. After waiting for over four hours, having little conversation with creepy Mark , and starving for food since I hadn’t eaten all day, they finally sent me in to see the doctor.

He bandaged my head and told me I had a slight concussion; I wouldn’t be returning to work anytime soon. He suggested that I have an x-ray on my knee because I could have chipped or broken something. The swelling was engulfing my knee and it appeared serious. At that point, I was willing to do what ever I was told and sent me into another room to put on a gown for the x-ray.

It was extremely difficult to get my clothes off and put on the gown. Unbuttoning my shirt, I started to cry. The growing pain was a realization about what had just happened. I pulled at my bra straps and agonizingly slide my pants over my now excessively swollen knee. I must have been taking a long time and the doctor was worried that I had passed out again. Thinking that Mark was my husband, he asked him to check on me. I was standing in my underwear, leaning over the table in pain with tears streaming down my face when he walked into the room.

I heard the door open, turned around, and stood there in shock for what seemed like hours before screaming and attempting to cover myself with my hands. At this point you’ll probably ask, “Why didn’t you grab the gown?” or “What didn’t he immediately get out?” But they are questions I can’t answer. All I know is that I was still in a state of shock and confusion and pain and my scream only attracted more attention. I stood there with my hands over my breasts, tears over my face, and only thong underwear over my most private area as the doctor and a male nurse, along with Mark – lets not forget creepy Mark,  stood in or entered the room. This whole event might have taken 10 seconds but it’s a lifetime when you’re on my end of things.

Finally, they left the room and allowed me to put on the gown, but what did I have to hide at that point? Thankfully, after the x-ray, everything appeared fine with my leg minus a few simple stitches.  I only had a slight concussion and the doctor gave me a note to take the rest of the week off of work, which I had no intention of doing.

When I finally did return to work, a week later, I realized the students had no idea what had happened. The substitute teacher only told them that I has a small accident and I would be returning to school in a week.

My black eye was an impossible hide and most students assumed that someone had hit me. Feeling sorry for me, they gave me a little bit of special attention. It was only two weeks later that I learned what they had assumed happened to me.

 Although I know I truly earned their respect outside of the situation, it certainly didn’t hurt that my first official day teaching in Norway House was with a black eye and after being out for a week because of “an accident”.

Have you heard of Norway House, Manitoba before? Although it’s not my first bucket list destination choice, it’s beautiful. If you’ve been, I’d love to read your stories. Please share a link below. 

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31 thoughts on “First Day Teaching – Norway House, Manitoba – Anyone Up for a Hospital Visit?

  1. may delory says:

    I believe it was the soda that pushed you over the edge. Check out the kind of sugar in the soda you drank. Some forms of sugar metabolize in the bloodstream faster than other forms of sugar and then your blood sugar levels crash and you can faint from low blood sugar. If you are fainting a lot I would not let the condition go unchecked just because you are youngish.

    1. Lesley says:


      I did go through a period of passing out regularly and it was addressed and managed, but it wasn’t the soda that made me pass out. I didn’t even make it to the soda machine before my “incident”.

      Foolishly, I didn’t eat for fear of being sick and the combination of heat and lack of food caused the series of unfortunate events.

      I’m destined to have crazy first days and my next experience is equally as stressful.

      Thanks for reading and for expressing your concern. It is heartwarming.

      Stay tuned for the next post,


    2. Donna Blanco says:

      That was hilarious! db

  2. Nurse Angry says:

    Haha, at least there were no wild animals involved this time. I can’t wait to read #3! These stories are making me a tiny bit nervous, though, as I’m starting a new job on Monday.

    1. Lesley says:

      Well, that’s debatable with Mark… 😉

      Where is your new job? You must be anxious. I obviously have anxiety about starting new jobs 🙂

      Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the last, first day.


  3. As a former teacher–and with teachers all around me–I can relate to your sense of mortificiation. It’s amazing we all survive education with our dignity in tact. Keep it up anywhow, Lesley. Best, Candida

    1. Lesley says:

      What do you teach? I was in high school most of the time, but I have a little bit of experience at all levels.

      Embarrassment seems to be a word that can no longer exist in my vocabulary.


  4. tom says:

    Lesley….what a ‘trip!’ It’s tough enough to have to deal with a lot of kids but to endure ‘extra’ at the same time is….well…scary…and having to be ‘in the care’ of mark….exciting story, though…haha
    Hope you are okay…… best, tom

    1. Lesley says:


      I ended up really enjoying my time in Norway House and stayed for two years. I build relationships with other staff and community members that will last a lifetime.

      And… there was no permanent damage from the fall, except a few tiny scares of embarrassment. 🙂

  5. Anita Archer says:

    What could top this experience? But then I thought that after the last one. I can’t wait to read the next one!

    1. Lesley says:

      Oh…. the next one! It was certainly an eye-opening, unforgettable experience. I’ll share it shortly 🙂

      Thanks for your continued support by the way; it means a lot to me.

      I’ve added your blog to my reading list and clicked the follow button. I’ll check back regularly.


  6. Oh man, you are a great writer and live a really funny, albeit sometimes embarrassing, life. So happy you are brave enough to share these great stories. Can’t wait for day 3 … though I am slightly cringing for you. I have sent day # 1 and now day #2 to all of the educators in my life (of which, there are many including my sister & best friend). Amazing. Keep it coming!

    1. Lesley says:

      Thank you for your support and encouragement! I appreciate all of my readers and followers, even if it is because they revel in my embarrassment 😉

      I’m now following your blog and I’ll continue to check it out regularly.


  7. Oy, vey! That is an awful story!!!! Isn’t it nice to be able to laugh now…though at the time…not so much!

  8. Man-O-Man everybody! This story, although beautifully told, is painful. I agree with Gretchen. I’m so glad you can laugh about it now, but I’m still feeling sympathy pain for the fall you took. I’m so glad you are alright! On that note, I look forward to reading more.

    1. Lesley says:

      It was something that I should have known better and responded differently. In the end, I really enjoyed working and living in the community. I ended up staying for two years.

  9. Charissa says:

    Oh, these stories just keep getting worse! I would have died in the hospital room when everyone barged in.

    1. Lesley says:

      I felt like it! I was so embarrassed! What a day. Thankfully, I can laugh about it now.


  10. Versa Kay says:

    Hilarious, because I wasn’t in your place.

  11. You are certainly on my reading list, even when I am trying to beat a deadline.

  12. Cat says:


    At first, hesitation crept through me before clicking the like button, but the love for your manner of verbiage, and albeit very talented story telling abilities; I could not restrain!

    Having been in the school system in different capacities for approximately the past 17 years, I actually felt as if I were standing right there following you around like an over-achieving student teacher with capricious mothering tendencies.

    I am a definite follower now. Thank you for putting yourself bravely out in the public eye with your experiences. I will most certainly be looking out for the next post! 🙂

    1. Lesley says:

      Sometimes our most embarrassing moments are the ones that give us the most laughs later in life.

      I ended up really enjoying my time in Norway House and I stayed for two years.

      The next teaching post will be available tomorrow; stay tuned,


  13. Simon Banks says:

    Wow! That WAS a first day! Pretty horrible, but you survived.

    Three years ago I had a very persistent virus which left me weak and with dizzy spells. One day I arrived at work feeling fine, went in the door and up the stairs, and about 3/4 of the way up, felt very weak and dizzy. I think I would have blacked out and gone down the stairs but something in my mind said, “FAINTING NEAR THE TOP OF THE STAIRS IS NOT A GOOD MOVE” and I kept going – was found by my boss resting against the office door about ten minutes later. He: “Are you all right?” Me: “No.” But in a few minutes, having sat down, I was.

  14. Bryan Ens says:

    Incredible stories Lesley! I, like some of your other commenters, thought that your previous story was crazy enough! I’m glad to say I’ve never had a first day nearly as bad as either that you’ve described (and I’m looking forward to the next!!), but I can sure try to imagine it. You said you built relationships over the 2 years you spent in Norway House…I’m presuming that “Mark” was not one of them? I enjoy your stories. Keep it up!

  15. Ahhh teaching children is so….rewarding! When you’re not pulling out your hair or other nasty adventures as you so creatively explained 🙂
    I taught children English in Turkey, and it’s the one job that you can definitely say ‘each day is different’ :). You just never know …

  16. Lesley says:

    After I got to know him a little better, he wasn’t that bad…. well, to me. He did have his moments.

  17. That’s just awful, Leslie. Engrossing reading, but what an awful experience for you! With these kind of first day teaching experiences, it’s a wonder that you didn’t develop a phobia of the first day back at school.

    1. Sorry about the SP mistake on your name, Lesley!

  18. Lisa Green says:

    Great story Lesley … I’m especially happy that you managed to enjoy our Friendly Manitoba hospitality for awhile after that inauspicious debut! I’m sure your presence up north affected more than a few lives for the better … thank you!

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