Let’s make a phone call?
There was a particularly shy toddler that came to our emergency department and was on high alert as soon as I came into the room. She watched me warily from her mother’s lap, one side of her face smooshed against her mom’s shoulder and the other eye following my every move.
I kept my distance while I got my history, and I noticed her start to relax just a bit. Ah yes, this strange person has been in the room for more than five minutes (i.e. forever in kiddo time) and nothing bad has happened so I’m probably okay, right?
However, as soon as I stood up and said, “Okay sweetie, I gotta take a look at you now, okay?”, she scrambled to get away from me.
“Hey, sweetpea, I promise this isn’t scary. Here, look.” I showed her my stethoscope. “Do you know what this is?”
One big, shiny eye peered over her mom’s shoulder. She shook her head.
“Well my friend, let me show you! This is a special telephone that we use to talk to your heart. Want me to show you?”
She stared at me for a few seconds, then very slowly nodded. I looked at her mom. Mom gave me “the nod”, so I showed her.
“Look! I put in the listening part, and then I put this part on Momma’s heart, like this. Ring ring! Oh! There, Momma’s heart is talking now, shh, I’m listening. Uh-huh. Oh, wow!”
Little bean began to creep a bit closer out of curiosity.
“Do you know what Momma’s heart said?”
“What?” she said, climbing closer.
“It said that she loves you SO much!”
She giggled. “What does my heart say?”
She sat nice and still while I auscultated her heart, nodding and saying, “Oh, really?” or “Yes, of course!” every time I moved the bell. She giggled. “What is it saying?”
“It says that its neighbours, your lungs, are very funny. Maybe they have some jokes to tell us?”
Then I auscultated her lungs, got her to lie down and listened to her abdomen as well.
“Oh my goodness, your tummy tells me you had such a big breakfast! I’m surprised someone so little was able to eat all those things!”
“Yeah!” she said, now excited. She proceeded to list off everything she ate up until the moment of this exam.
“--and I had some cheese string, and--”
As she continued to list all the snacks that she took a bite of (and then asked her mother to finish), I listened intently as I checked her skin, her joints, and did her ENT exam.
“Good news my friend, we are all done!”
“What? No! What about... can you telephone my heart again?”
Mom seemed pretty surprised that we got through the whole exam with no complaints. It is indeed a nice feeling when things work out!
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