A Day in the Life: Measuring Magic
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A look into my day as an intern in peds cardiology <3 I took a minute to invest in my patient instead of checking things off my to do list and I was extremely blessed as a result.
- 26 Published Oct 5, '13
I am an intern at a pediatric cardiologist’s office. On clinical days I get to run ECGs (electrocardiogram) on tiny patients.
Running ECGs is relatively simple. I stick eight electrodes onto little bodies and hook them up to a machine. I type in birthdays, names, ages, and genders. I push a button. I wait. Children are told to be still, to not be nervous. Parents hold their breath as the pink sheet of paper slides out the machine. Zig zaggy lines travel up and down sheet in imposing black ink.
Is the treatment working? Is their baby’s heart getting stronger? Is the medicine that leaves their child bruised and tired doing its job?
I can’t answer any of those questions.
Thursday, when I was repeating this process for the umpteenth time that day, a sweet little girl looked up at me while I quickly read the unconfirmed analysis at the top of the page, “Is my heart all better?”
Mom straightened and look hopeful. I couldn’t answer that question. I am not educated enough to even guess.
My throat caught, “Hmm…I don’t know. The doctor will tell you when you go into consult.”
The little girl slumped against the crinkly paper on the exam table. I didn’t like my answer. The families that come through our office are often scared and confused, I couldn’t just spit out some unfeeling clinical jargon when a little girl asks me if her heart was better. The words seemed wrong.
I ripped the sheet out of the machine and leaned in next to her, holding the report above our heads, “I can’t tell you if your heart is better, that’s not my job. But, do you know what this machine does?”
“No…” Little girl shook her head, big, brown eyes peering up at me.
I pointed to the squiggly lines, “This machine measures all the magic inside your heart. And I can tell you that your heart is super full of magic!”
Her face erupted into a smile, “That’s all my magic?!?”
“Yes, and you are one magical little girl!”
I glanced over at her mom. For just a minute, the anxiety on the woman’s face was pushed back and joy was at the forefront.
I am so glad I stopped to say those words to that little girl. Sure, I had a million and one other things I could have done with the forty-five seconds that I spent measuring the magic. I had to file the chart, reset the ECG, clean the room, take the patient to consult, bring in the next patient from echo, give the charts to doctor, shadow the consult, take vitals, and run another ECG. But I let all those things wait. They weren’t going anywhere.
This little girl needed just a moment to feel the magic, instead of worrying about her heart. I took a moment to think about my patient’s heart, not the physical heart that we spend so much of our time worrying about in that office, but the nonphysical heart of a scared little girl.
I learned something very special on Thursday. I learned that magic is not only held inside ECG machines and tiny patients, but maybe there’s a little bit of magic in me as well. When I walk into that room, I can either perpetuate the patient’s fears and anxieties by being cold, clinical, and calculating, or, I can brighten their day, calm their worries, and remind my tiny patients just how special they are.Last edit by Joe V on Oct 7, '13
0Oct 9, '13 by royhanosnthat is NOT your job to interpret. Dealing with a child is sensitive, especially with mom or dad hanging over your shoulder. Its the doctor, your BOSS, that does the interpretaion. Dont over drama this. Perhaps you are too sensitive for this job.
you do the slog work, let the boss doctor do what he is trained to do, interpret. Perhaps there are things on the reading that need to be interpretted, the patient should not need to know.