It isn’t hard to tell when a child is scared in the emergency department.
Most little kids aren’t too fond of doctors to begin with. To many of them, the terms “doctor” and “shot” are synonymous. They clutch onto their parents when you walk in the room. They cry when you get close to them. Doesn’t matter how much you smile or talk nice to them, a lot of the time little kids want nothing to do with you.
One such 4 year old tyke in “Incredible Hulk” slippers was carried in by his mother after slamming the tip of his middle finger in a door. The mother kind of freaked out when it bled, but fortunately for the kid, the door just clipped the very tip of his finger. Small piece of skin ripped off, but nothing needing stitches and no broken bones.
Convincing the kid of this was another story. He had his finger wrapped in gauze and had his hand buried underneath his opposite armpit. He was using his good hand to clutch his mom’s arm and sweater for dear life.
“Can I take a look at your finger?” I asked. He just grabbed onto his mother more tightly and started to whimper.
“How about this … you can pinch my arm with your good hand while I’m looking at your finger. If I do anything that hurts your finger, you can pinch me reaaaaallly hard.” He looked at his mom. She raised her eyebrows and tilted her head. His grip on her sweater relaxed.
Ahhhhh … progress.
“OK, you take the bandage off so I can look at it. I don’t want to hurt you or anything.”
Off comes the bandage. I held my arm out.
“OK, now you can start pinching. OW! Not so hard! You’re only supposed to pinch like that if I hurt you.” He giggled.
I looked at his finger and just saw the small skin avulsion at the tip.
“Guess what. We have secret Incredible Hulk healing ointment that will make this all better in no time.” Fortunately, the antibiotic ointment packets are green. I pulled a packet out of the drawer and opened it.
“See? The writing on there says ‘Incredible Hulk’ just like your slippers. I’ll give another packet to your mom to take home, OK?”
Then I fumbled in the drawer a little.
“Where are those magic Band-Aids? They … oh … there’s one! These magic Band-Aids help make boo-boos heal up really quick. Can I put it on your finger?”
He held his finger out.
“There. Perfect. You can stop pinching my arm, now, we’re done.”
As I was explaining discharge stuff to the mom and washing my hands, the nurse walked in the room to see what was happening.
“Hey, show the nurse your magic Band-Aid,” I told him.
He proudly held up his middle finger to show her. Mom busted out laughing. The nurse gave me a half-smirk and rolled her eyes. Of course, seeing that he could make his mom laugh, he left the room and was flipping random people off as he walked down the hall, saying “Look!” No idea what he was doing (I hope) but everyone’s laughter just made him do it more.
What other job lets you turn a scared kid into a stand-up comedian in the span of 5 minutes?
I’ll probably get a call from administration about it when he flips off his dad or some pre-school teacher, but it was worth it.