I had a rough weekend.
It was busy, and the ER kept me running. I hardly had a chance to sit both of my nights.
Whenever I get home from work, I always sit and think about the patients that I’ve scanned, and if any of them stick out to me – someone that might be worth writing about.
This weekend was all about the babies. And I don’t mean that literally.
One of my more memorable ultrasounds was on a 12 year old girl. She was in a lot of pain, and they had given her hydrocodone. She was SO FAR OUT of it, it was almost funny, but she kept trying to chat me up. She was talking to me about her school, and her friends. She told me about her parents and her sisters. I mentioned to her that I didn’t remember what it was like to be 12, but she seemed VERY mature for her age. She held a conversation, even drugged, better than most of my full-grown patients. She laughed and told me it was probably from having two older sisters, and growing up a little before her time. She told me that she’d had a lot of health problems thus far, and she was used to spending a lot of time in the hospital.
The thing that struck me the most about her was the fact that she still cuddled a teddy-bear. She was sick, and in the hospital, and the bear just made her feel better. She was a little sad that her mom and dad couldn’t be in the room when we did the exam, but she had her bear. As grown up and as sweet as she was, she was still just a little girl.
A few hours later, I had another ultrasound – this time on a 13 year old girl. She was status-post D&C, which kind of freaked me out a little. Who does a D&C on a 13 year old? There wasn’t a lot of information in her chart, so I waited to talk to her. When she rolled up into my room, it scared me how little she was. But the similarities to the young girl I had scanned earlier were hard to ignore. She was very eloquent, and very bright. She told me about how she’d had very heavy periods ever since they first started, and no one could figure out why. At 12 years old, she was put on depo-provera to try to stop the bleeding, and that made it worse. She’d been given a D&C a month ago by her ob/gyn to try to curb the bleeding, and had spent the last several weeks hemorrhaging. She ended up coming in to the hospital because she had started passing out.
We talked for a while before I started the exam. Because of her age, I automatically assumed I would skip the “internal” portion of the exam. (Yes, there are some parts of my job that are rather invasive.) I asked her if she knew what that was, and she said, “Oh yes! I’ve had many of those before.” I was shocked, and asked her if she was sexually active. There are very few contraindications to vaginal or internal ultrasounds, but not being sexually active is one of them. She blushed and looked at me sheepishly before answering, “Yes.”
My heart fell out of my chest. Thirteen years old, and sexually active?
Not that I haven’t seen it before, but this little girl hardly looked a day over ten. She’s still a BABY! I wanted to shake her, or hug her, or… I don’t know. I can’t imagine. It breaks my heart, and scares me at the same time.
She pulled up her gown so I could scan her belly, and I spied a tattoo and a navel ring. My blood ran cold. She told me she ran with a ‘bad crowd.’
Here it is, guys and gals…
I don’t know how to be a great parent. I don’t even know if I’m doing the right thing from day to day. It makes me crazy, knowing that these girls are smart, and well spoken, and outgoing… and that things can go so wrong. Bad choices, bad friends, bad directions – all despite how good things could be.
All I can hope is that I do better for my son, for my kids – that some part of what I’m doing will help them make better decisions. That I will never see a child of mine on a hospital stretcher, dealing with the fallout of poor choices and a bad direction. I know I derailed this post, but I can’t help it.
I hope, hope, hope that caring, trying, and wanting the best is enough. I hope that being involved is enough. I hope.