I just terrified a 6 year old.
Who had broken her wrist in gymnastics.
I got the call about the case and alerted anesthesia.
And then, as is my custom.
I walked over to the ED to collect her so we wouldn’t have to wait on transport.
I walked into the room, mom and dad hovering over the small, thin girl in the gurney, still dressed in her practice leotard, brother playing something on a hand held device.
I smile brightly and say, as I usually do, “Hi, my name is Kate and I am going to be your surgery nurse tonight.”
The little girl in the bed, looking at me with big. big brown eyes?
Promptly burst into tears and wailing “I don’t wanna have surgery. Why is she here?”
Dad looks at me, back straightening as I watched, as if I was a threat to his child, “Surgery? What surgery?”
Um, thinking fast, still smiling, warm blanket that I had just retrieved clutched to my chest, looking from mom to dad to mom and to brother and to dad again, “They didn’t tell you about surgery?”
Pigtails bobbing, she shook her head violently, tears streaming down her cheek. “Nononono!”
Me, trying to be soothing, “I spoke to the doctor who’s going to fix your arm so it doesn’t hurt.”
Dad, a bit belligerent now, “Which doctor, we’ve not talked to anyone about this.”
Me, “I got off the phone with the orthopedic surgeon not 5 minutes ago and then I came to get you to whisk you away on the magic gurney ride. So you can meet the anesthesia team and the doctor before we go to the operating room.”
Cue more wails from the 6 year old. “I don’t wanna go to the operating room.”
Mom, stroking her forehead, “It’s a procedure to make your arm better.”
Me, trying to chime in something soothing, “No sharp objects at all.”
Well, that was the wrong thing to say.
I cover her with the blanket and bring up the side rails. And I say, briskly, “I am going to take you to the pre-procedure area so you can meet all the other funny people in blue. Mom and Dad and brother are coming with us.”
And away we went, wailing, and tears, and brother coming up from behind, the tinny music of the game a counterpoint to the tears.