Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy

30Sep/09Off

The Endless Tide Of Unwashed Humanity

Faceless children throng through the doors of the Peds ER; parents, illnesses, charts all flowing into one feverish, runny-nosed amalgamation.

The waiting room is full of these kids. Anyone who didn't have the flu before, does now. It takes 7 hours to be seen, plenty of time for snotty hands to wipe all over the tables, the chairs, the playthings.

I vaguely listen to my voice on autopilot, droning on about the benefits of motrin and tyenol for fevers. I'm surprised to hear myself lose patience with a particularly insistent mother who wants her daughter hospitalized for a fever of 101.3 and a cough. Her kid is fine. She won't take no for an answer. We get security to escort her out.

This isn't fun. At one point I see 8 children in a row who I diagnose with the cold. The monotony is broken by a child with a cut on his finger, but he starts screaming the second I enter the room. We have to sedate him before I can sew it up. He hates me for it, and his mom judges my repair every step of the way. I look too young, she explains. My next 5 patients all have the cold. Nothing about this is enjoyable or fulfilling.

The shift ends with a whimper, as we finally clear out the waiting room 15 minutes before I'm scheduled to leave. My last patient is a kid with a cough. I send him home with tylenol for the fevers. The parents can't believe they waited eight hours for me to tell them that. I can't believe they did either.

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  1. My favorite is when the parents say they didn’t give tylenol “because we didn’t want to mask the symptoms.”

    Like I wouldn’t believe your child had fever in the middle of a flu epidemic? Go ahead home and mask the symptoms till he gets better.

    I’m really enjoying your blog.

  2. Before I went to med school, I used not take tylenol myself when I’d go to the doctor because I was afraid she wouldn’t believe me when I said I had one. I now see that this was foolish, and I find myself wondering why my patients do this to themselves.

    However it doesn’t address the underlying issue that I didn’t trust my PMD. I’m not sure how this happened, since I had mostly non-negative dr experiences growing up. Oh wait, yes I do. It was because she SUCKED!!

    Hee.

  3. What I also want to know is why my avatar is my facebook picture and not my blogger picture. See, facebook does not have either this email or my blog information. That is WAY creepy.

  4. Ooooh, OldMDGirl, I am totally gonna track you down on facebook now. Because I know how much you’d like that!

    Anyway.

    Dr. Zac, yes. As a med student, I found shifts in the pediatric ER to be uniquely unfulfilling. Granted, as a med student, I was allowed to do even less than a typical intern… but still. Needy parents, kids who scream at the sight of a white coat, no one particularly sick… which, sure, ought to appeal to the humanitarian side of me, but I didn’t go into medicine because I was nice, despite whatever bullshit I poured into that essay.

    And I still don’t take drugs before I go to the doctor. If I sound shitty, he will give me a z-pack! Doy.


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