Sunday, August 19, 2007

The last thing she ate was a poptart on Tuesday

A few days ago I was signing off the morning after my call and I went in to check up on one my admissions the night before. She was a five year old who'd come in with a fever and we were trying to figure out why she had it. Fever of unknown origin presents a diagnostic challenge because, in the absence of any symptoms to localise the cause, a whole gamut of tests need to done to isolate an etiology. This child was one such case. She'd come in at about two in the morning with her mother, running a high temperature but with little else to offer us in the way of diagnosis. After our initial examination, the senior resident on call and I had sat down and ordered a list of tests, including bloodwork, for her so we could figure out what was wrong.

When I went in to see her in the morning, she was lying in bed, crying quietly to herself. Her mom wasn't there and I assumed it was because she was lonely and wanted her back. I went and sat by her side.

"What's wrong, sweetie?" I asked.

"I'm scared," she told me, trying to hold back tears.

"What happened?" Not the smartest question to ask a sick child alone in the hospital but it had been a busy night and after about one o'clock in the morning I'd lost the energy to debate the finer distinctions between the various teenage mutant ninja turtles to distract the patients while I examined them. Also, the sight of her, lying quietly in bed, sobbing to herself, had unnerved me and I was reduced to the most basic questions in an effort to undo what was bothering her.

"They keep poking me!" she bawled.

"Oh, dear," I said, stroking a wet cheek. "We're only doing those tests so that we could help you get better and go home. Would you like to go home?"

She nodded weakly.

"I'll ask the nurses not to poke you any more. Is that alright?" It wasn't true - the bloodwork needed to be sent.

"Yes," she said.

"Ok! Great!," I told her putting on a false voice to cheer her up. "Anything else?"

She shook her head.

"Alright, sweetie, I'll see you later." I waved, looking desperately for a stray smile.

"Bye," she waved back, too tired to smile.


Anonymous fathima said...

oh. i'm afraid of what this title means.
i'm so sorry.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could not make anything of title either...

(sorry for me being urdu medium)


4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmm...nahi at first I assumed the same but one would have felt more emotion in the post then right? Maybe all she had was a poptart on tuesday and had been sick and tired of everything ever since.

Sigh i know what that feels like. Being confined to a hospital bed with no vistors because of horrible visiting hours...crying..wanting to go home..with a nurse suddenly popping her head around the curtain and rubbing ur toes...embarrasing...yet so helpless. The little girl I assume was frightened as well.

I do pray shes okay.

1:29 AM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...

Thanks for writing in. For those who are interested, the child recovered over the next couple of days and was soon bouncing around, pretending to be a helicopter. That's one of the pleasures of working with children; the incredible recoveries you get to witness.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous fathima said...


7:13 PM  

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