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When your child is the patient

The last thing you want is for your child to be a patient. But sometimes our children can astonish us with their bravery and teach us valuable lessons about caregiving.

I have been an RN for 15 years and a member of a hospital IV team for the past three. A few years ago, I found myself in the ER with my three-year-old daughter who had been complaining of leg pain for some time and suddenly began limping late one night.

Sometimes it’s better not to be a nurse.

Perhaps, leg pain could just be leg pain and not some possible symptom of a life-threatening illness, I thought.  But my mind raced.  Could she have leukemia? (She didhave a lot of bruises…)  How about rheumatoid arthritis? (Although her joints did not lookswollen, her pain was somewhat relieved by heat application.)

The ER nurse was very sweet as she explained to my daughter that she would have to get “a little poke” so that she would be able to draw some blood and start an IV. I have started thousands. Not much to it. I looked into her eyes and told her that it would all be all right and that I would hold her other hand.

My brave little girl squeezed my hand and shut her eyes. One little tear rolled down her cheek. She was more than stoic. When it was over, the nurse taped an arm board to her little wrist, gave her a teddy bear and left the room. My daughter looked up at me, and with tears streaming down her face she asked, “Mommy, how will I everplay ring-around-the-rosy again?”

My little girl had not understood that her IV was not permanent. And still she was so brave. From that day forward, my nursing practice changed just a bit. No longer could I make the assumption that my patients understood what I was going to be doing to them, just because I knew it so well and it had become common practice. My daughter had made me a better nurse.

PS: My daughter is fine. She is now eight years old and a strong, healthy, vibrant little girl who still, on occasion, just has some leg pain.

Contributed by: Cheri Constantino, RN

If you have a story to share about a child who has inspired you, or have tips on caring for family members, please write to us at hello@scrubsmag.com.

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Cheri Constantino, RN


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2 Responses to When your child is the patient

  1. Anonymous

    I know that I try to diagnose my kids and I always go too far and scare myself. I think of the worst case scenarios. Maybe because I think that if their head cold is terminal, whatever diagnosis is going to be a relief….

  2. Patti Gallo

    Cheri has such an inspiring way to share one very important message – communication means everything to our patients, be they age 3 or age 93. What a wonderful mother and nurse she is!