:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Saturday, December 16, 2006  

Did you put something in your ear?

Yesterday I worked a long 12 hour shift (yes, there are short 12 hour shifts and long 12 hour shifts) in the pediatrics emergency room at a county hospital as part of my pediatrics experience during my family medicine residency training. I didn't end up leaving the hospital until a while after my shift ended because I wanted to tie up loose ends and make sure two patients who were being admitted to the hospital wards had their studies (imaging, blood studies) all tucked away. I was exhausted.

But all is still OK. Why? Because my ER shift was fun. FUN. The kids are the cutest. There are traumas and emergencies that bring us joy (in stabilizing/curing) and sadness (gun shot wounds and freak accidents in kids are the worst). But some of the funniest interactions occur with the less acutely sick patients.

For example, a 10 year old girl with headaches for a week straight gives me more information on these pains -- how long they last, what they're exacerbated by, how they affect her at school, and i rule out the most dangerous causes of headaches with a number of questions. But the first thing she says to me when I walk into the room, introduce myself, and ask her what's bothering her is -- "I've been having headaches for a week and I just cannot afford it." I had to stop myself from busting out laughing during the rest of my interaction with her.

And a 3 year old boy who we think has whooping cough (pertussis) because of his extended coughing pattern (and related symptoms) also had some trauma to his left ear, and there's a little bit of dried blood in the ear canal, but no damage to the eardrum. Definitely looks like he tried to put something in his ear. But he vehemently denies it, when I ask nicely, and when mom asks nicely. Then the attending doctor (the senior doctor running the ER) comes to see the patient again with me, kneels down in front of him and says in a really sweet voice, "Hi I'm [insert male first name here]. How are you? Did you put something in your ear?"

The child nods his head side to side, motioning "No."

The doctor whispers, "I won't tell anyone if you put something in your ear, you won't get hurt." And then the doctor repeats, in a cute voice, "Did you put something in your ear?"

and the child nods his head up and down and smiles the cutest smile EVER.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 12/16/2006 04:26:00 AM | |


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