Nov 17, 2011

High Fives and Tongue Blades

I love working in pediatrics because (healthy) children (generally) enjoy another's company. Unlike cunning adults who stare (rudely) when you poke and probe their diseased parts, children either wail, or transfix in confusion held firmly by Mum.
So floor rounds every morning became the sole agony of pediatric patients. We will force their mouth open with a weird tasting tongue blade, sometimes accidentally evoking a gag reflex; their ears probed with an otoscope; noses swabbed for flu virus (if indicated); and for patients with ambiguous genitalia, their private parts exhibited to half a dozen medical students. But what's cool about children is that by the time we leave, they will happily wave us goodbye, shower us with goodbye kisses (amidst tears from just now), and give us multiple high fives. This routine is so well tested it is like a computer program installed into every toddler by the time they get admitted - like how dog trainers tell their pets to "sit" or "shake hands".


Most toddlers are full of virtuous moral values they learn fresh from kindergarten. This makes them easily deceived very cooperative during examinations. For example, before a throat swab which is potentially painful and uncomfortable, I exclaimed "what a big guy you are! You must be very brave. The bravest in class, isn't it?"
Big guy is beaming with pride and trying to conceal his blushes at the same time.
"Now, I hate to do this but this will make you better faster. I will put this thing (the swab) into your nose for a while. I know you are the bravest in class and that you won't fight or cry. It's going to hurt a little but I know you're the bestest! OK?"
"Yes! I'm the bravest in class!"
*Starts poking his nose gently*
Big guy tries to look brave but still can't stand it.
5 seconds into the procedure he's screaming and fighting. But by then I've got a swab and scurrying away to send the probe for exam while he complained in between large sobs to his mother "he's too rough lah!"
Nevertheless, no matter how loudly they swear they hate you, they will still kiss you goodbye and high five your hands when they recover enough - which is very quickly in pediatrics. Exceptions include irresponsible parents who use doctors as a threat, like "if you don't behave I will ask the doctor to give you a shot!" Remember: doctor-phobia will only increase both our difficulties the next time your child is sick. So always tell them doctors are the bestest persons on earth and they are bravest - that throat swabs or tongue blades are nothing. Also, keep up the good work on high fives and goodbye kisses!

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