Archive for Thursday, August 6, 2009

Office visit proves kids still say the darndest things

August 6, 2009

Some of you may remember Art Linkletter’s book, “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” which evolved, if memory serves, from a television show, during which time he interviewed children.

I thought about the book recently after a conversation with a youngster in my office.

Chemotherapy has left me with a dry, hacking cough, thought to be due to chemical toxicity in my lungs — a side effect from a rather powerful, effective chemotherapy for breast cancer, but which induces some nasty other problems.

One of these is a cough that takes several months to go away. It is annoying, at least to me.

It also causes me to be short of breath, so I tell clients if I am taking or trying to take deep breaths, it is not because I am bored with what they are saying. It is just that I am trying to breathe.

I also tell them, after they arrive in the waiting room, they will need to remove their shoes and clean their hands with Purell — a procedure set up by my care team to allow me to be in the office and avoid exposure to germs and infections.

My clients have been remarkably cooperative and respectful. I hand it to them; they have stuck with me throughout this ordeal.

So has one particular youngster who saw me go from a full head of hair to complete baldness to hair growing back in. From time to time, he asks to pet my head — judging my progress I guess. I tell him to wash his hands, and he can pet my head.

One day he arrived in the waiting room, removed his shoes and was using Purell on his hands when he apparently heard me cough. He came in, and stood next to my desk.

I thought he was going to ask to pet my head again, given that I was getting hair.

I coughed. “Dr. Rae,” he asked, “do you think you have worms?” He was quite serious.

“Well,” I said, “I wonder what makes you ask.”

He gathered himself up, looking knowingly and said, “I had a dog once that made a sound like that when he coughed, and he had worms. Do you think you have worms?”

I told him I didn’t think so, but I would ask my doctor when I saw her.

I did tell her about the conversation the next time I saw her.

She has a 3-year-old who refuses, as she says, to “poo, poo in the potty,” so she isn’t finding youngsters funny right now.

She did assure me that I didn’t have worms, in spite of a cough that makes at least one youngster think I might. It would be the least of my worries at this point.

Since you’re wondering, he did pet my head.

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