People come in here thinking we have magic. We don’t. But we can’t tell them that so that will be our little secret. We try our best, do our best. That is our duty.
Today I saw a 6month old, a 2 year old, a 5 year old, a 9 year old, an 11 year old, and a 16 year old. I gathered histories and found out favorite colors and future aspirations, teased and played with the younger ones and held conversations with older ones. One was a dancer, another an athlete, one wanted to be a doctor, and the other a policeman. One loved math and one wanted to be a game designer. The other was so excited to be batgirl for Halloween. After a brief icebreaker I move on to a very classic ritual, the physical examination. I always start with a neuromuscular exam, making them jump up and down and wiggle their fingers and tickle their arms, to make them comfortable. I look down throats and into ears, then move down to their neck and feel for a pulse, then listen to heart beats and move on to lung breaths. I check for peripheral pulses and swelling by running my hands down their arms and legs, and tickle tummys for the younger ones. I end with a high five, complimenting them on a job well done, and thank them for allowing me to examine.
I am far, so very far, from having that magical Doctor’s touch. I am still clumsy trying to stick my stethoscope into my ears while wearing hijab. I try not to take too long listening to heart beats so I don’t make any parents anxious, and I doubt the sounds of my percussions. It’s been three months, and I’ve already learned so much, but I haven’t even performed half of a physical exam. But even with the little I know I see its power. It’s a privilege, to be able to examine someone, to be able to give them a human touch. I can see why patients think it’s magical-it’s a very intimate experience.