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Why Sick Kids Are Fun To Take Care Of

Something is in the air.

Work has been uncharacteristically crazy, nuts, bananas busy since I returned from my influenza-induced hiatus. Scores of very sick people, no real pattern. And a ton of pediatrics.

Feverish, coughing, runny-nose, wheezing, stridorous, vomiting, diarrhea-having, screaming, combative, medicine-spitting small humans.

It’s not easy triaging these little folks. You have to get the history over the crying/screaming, try and obtain vitals while they kick off any and all probes, do a rectal temperature if they are under 2 years old (wrestling to keep them still), and weigh them for medication dosing.

You have to do all this taking into account their developmental stage/age, which affects everything from how you approach a pediatric patient to what behaviors would be considered “normal”.

Then there is the “two-fer”. One child is sick? Well then, let’s check the other one, too! Never mind that the other one isn’t showing symptoms but might be incubating a virus as we speak, or had symptoms and is now on the mend, the logic of the parents is “might as well check them both!”


So that’s a double triage.

Time consuming. Energy consuming. Hearing-loss inducing. Nerve-grating.

And absolutely gratifying.


Didn’t expect that, did ya?

There is something about building a rapport with a child, starting at triage, that makes all the above worth it.

The smiles that you get when you first say hi (before they realize there is an assessment involved!)

The baby who verbalizes back when you talk to her.

The toddler who laughs when the oximeter probe falls off.

The tiny Disney Princess who is proud of her Ariel slippers.

The boy who scans the Wong-Baker pain scale with a serious expression so he can pick just the right number.

Giving Tylenol and/or Motrin to a cranky, miserable, feverish child and then watching them play peek-a-boo with the curtains 30 minutes later.

Hearing giggling from the room as they play with siblings.

Watching them snuggle the teddy bear you just gave them.

Seeing the look of excitement when they see you have a juice box (what is it about juice?)

The tiny hand waving good-bye as they leave the department.


In the midst of some hellacious nights, I’ve taken care of some wonderful kids.

It isn’t easy. Caring for kids can’t be rushed. They can be a challenge.

But when it’s all said and done, it is the most gratifying part of my work.

The kids are alright, indeed.

*This blog post was originally published at Emergiblog*

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