Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Connection and Wonder

The house was filled with screaming and playing children and I could barely think straight. Trying to fill med boxes and query my patient about her health, I was having trouble concentrating.

All of a sudden, I looked up from my work at the kitchen table to see four earnest young faces staring at me. Sensing an opportunity, I decided to set the meds aside for a moment and check my patient's blood pressure instead. The children watched with rapt attention as I wrapped the cuff around their grandmother's arm, their fascination growing as I began to pump up the cuff and place the bell of my stethoscope on the crook of her elbow.

Finishing with the blood pressure, I knelt down and offered the oldest girl my stethoscope. I guided the ear-pieces into her small ears and then placed the bell of the stethoscope on her sister's chest. She smiled and giggled as she listened to her sister's heart, lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. Each child in succession took turns listening to another child's heart, and by the time we were done, they were calm as can be and simply beaming.

After I left the house, I wondered to myself just how common it might be for a simple experience---like using a stethoscope for the first time---to end up being a crystallizing moment in a child's life, perhaps laying the groundwork for their adult life. Whatever the outcome, I had a great moment with those children today, and whether they remember it or not, we all had that brief time of connection and wonder, and that was worth more than words can say.

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