A Day in the Life: Measuring Magic

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.

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A Day in the Life: Measuring Magic

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 the 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..." The 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.

I'm a Pre-Nursing Student intern at a pediatric cardiologist's office.

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102 Posts

This made my night!


1 Article; 120 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

Aww thank you!


20 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg.

Beautiful :)

Specializes in Acute Rehab, IMCU, ED, med-surg. Has 10 years experience.

A heart full of magic! How lyrical, and comforting! Thank you for sharing this experience!


6 Articles; 385 Posts

Specializes in adult psych, LTC/SNF, child psych. Has 8 years experience.

This is such a sweet story! I'm so pleased that you were able to make that little girl's day, as well as her mother's. I really like what you did there. :D


389 Posts

Made me tear up. Beautiful.

NutmeggeRN, BSN

8 Articles; 4,597 Posts

Specializes in kids. Has 40 years experience.

That was awesome!!! virtual Hi Five!!!!


233 Posts

Specializes in psych, general, emerg, mash.

that 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.


68 Posts

she didn't interpret. that's the point. she specifically said she wasn't telling them the interpretation: "i can't tell you if your heart is all better, that's not my job."

she brought a little joy to a sick girl by talking about something non-medical, something kid-like: magic.

this post made me cry, and i am disgusted that someone would somehow make a negative spin out of it.

my 6 year old son just died. we spent months and months in and out of the hospital, and he died there. it is the place where i have experienced the most horrifying thing a person can go through. but i look upon that hospital as a place of joy. because of people like the original poster. let me tell you, MAGIC goes a long way. Magic and joy is what can make the last few months of a child's life something wonderful. To the OP: Good for you. Keep up the magic. It makes a big difference.


20 Posts

This made me cry, and made my day!