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Jun 24, 2009


Monday morning, I showed up at the hospital where I’d been assigned for outpatient peds for the week. I was perplexed as to why I was heading to a resident workroom if I was going to be doing clinic, but I went anyway, because I am a good little med student. Turns out: I’m on Newborn this week!

It has been lovely. Firstly, there aren’t that many of them, so I can keep everyone straight pretty easily. Second, there just isn’t that much to do with these little dudes. If there was a lot going on, they’d be in the NICU (the neonatal intensive care unit), where third year students are not allowed because we are generally a clumsy and stupid bunch. I can’t say that I disagree with that policy too much. And third, we often get to tag along with the inpatient peds team in the afternoons. Unlike newborns, those kids are sick and pitiful and hard to examine. I am both looking forward to and dreading inpatient peds. It is hard enough to examine the newborns, what with the crying and the peeing all over you – and that is just a simple, easy exam on a baby who is known to be healthy. Working with sick kids and their families – families that are just like me and my family – I hope I survive.

I’m nervous about writing here about the patients and cases I see; I need to think and read about how to do it without violating anyone’s privacy. But I do want to share these stories with you. They are worth telling and remembering.

For now, though, here are blurbs. Snippets with a punchline, if you will.


The screaming was unreal. She kept screaming, terrified of us. I felt awful for her, but we had to look at her before she could be treated. I drew hearts on her fingertips and pointed out the lights on the wall to distract her so the real doctor to listen to her lungs. Don’t push the blue light – we don’t need CPR. As we left, she looked up at me with tear-stained eyes and waved bye-bye with her heart-adorned hand.


Like all third year students, we are constantly asked questions. Unlike anyone else, they might as well be asking me about Colin’s birth and hospital stay. I feel a little bad for the girl with me. Don’t worry, sweetie, you’ll get your chance. I don’t know anything about toddlers.


The boy’s father looked in my eyes and told me, without blinking or faltering, “It was then that I thought I was going to lose him.” And my eyes filled with tears before I could do anything about it.


Adoption is tricky. One day, the birth mother can have an adoptive family lined up and not want any contact with her newly delivered baby. The next day, she decides that the baby will go home with her. And stay there. I have a new respect for social workers, a job that is so incredibly necessary and one that my spirit could not tolerate. I am not resilient enough.


1 Readers rock!:

marymartha said...

Thanks for the thumbs up to us social workers! Its the small victories that keep us going...
I couldn't do what you do as a doctor. So maybe together we balance and heal a wounded world...