Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Small Kindnesses

We had a child come in this morning with ADHD and behavioral problems. The doctor interviewing him was a pediatric neurology fellow, Megan, who drops by once a week to attend the child psychiatry clinic. Megan's one of my favorite people to work with. She's smart and funny and has a wonderful talent for connecting with children, for feeling what they're feeling. A lot of this has to do with her own history as a patient. As a child she went undiagnosed with a brain tumor for almost two years. It was later operated on and removed but the experience of pain is something that stayed with her. She frequently draws upon it, showing the kids her surgery scars, to connect with her patients and help them feel at ease when she's talking to them in the clinic.

This morning, she got the child talking about how his classmates were teasing him at school. They made fun of his clothes and called him ugly. He had buck teeth and that was a constant source of ridicule which he tolerated for a while but was now fed up off and fighting back.

"Here, look," Megan said, pointing to her mouth. There was a slight gap between her front teeth.

"When I was a child, I had big teeth as well but then I wore braces and they didn't look so bad."

"Did it hurt?" the child asked, entranced by the prospect.

"A little and only when they were taken out," Megan reassured him. "And the braces they have now are like a million times better than when I was a child."


Wow, indeed.


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