“AAHHHHHHHHH! NO! NO! I can’t!”
A 9 year-old boy was screaming at his mother while holding his stomach in pain. Suddenly, he stopped and relaxed a little before the next bout of pain came rushing.
“URRRGGHHH! It hurts! It hurts! Stupid doctors! Stupid surgery!”
The boy was my new patient for the morning. I was supposed to interview him and do a physical exam so that I could present him during rounds. I walked in and stood there not knowing what do to. Between his painful screams, I introduced myself and asked his mother if I could ask her a couple of questions. She kindly accepted despite my inopportune timing. Through the interview, I found out that he had recently gone through a simple bone cyst surgery in his femur and had been given opiates as pain control. He hadn’t defecated since before the surgery, which was most probably the cause of his pain. Before I had barged in, the mother was trying to get her boy to the bathroom with no avail. I was in the middle of the interview when the boy started to scream again saying how much he didn’t like doctors. Then, the mother started to cry. Again, I stood there with a blank stare, trying to figure out what to say. I put my notebook down and offered to help her take him to the bathroom.
“You’ll feel much better if you go to the bathroom. You can do it, you’re a champ!”
I tried to coerce him with my limited Hebrew, which didn’t work. But I couldn’t stop trying. A few minutes later a physiotherapist showed up and took over, doing a much better job than I had been doing.
“Want to sing? What’s your favorite song? La la la la…”
Finally, we were able to convince him to get in a wheelchair so that we could wheel him to the bathroom. At that point, I had to leave because we were starting rounds. The mother thanked and blessed me though I felt I didn’t deserve it. I hadn’t really done anything besides stand there dumbfounded and watch the physiotherapist talk to the boy.
I spent the majority of my time convincing the boy that it would be beneficial for him to go to the bathroom instead of doing the interview so I was not very prepared to present his case on rounds. I was getting nervous as we got closer to his room, but there wasn’t much I could do at this point. Someone tapped on my leg. I turned around and it was the constipated boy! He handed me a drawing with “I love you” written on it. What had I done to deserve this? He sure didn’t like me a few minutes ago when I was talking him into going to the bathroom. The mother thanked me profusely again, telling me how I was going to be a good doctor with a big heart. I guess sometimes all you need to do is to just be there for the patient.