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Friday, June 02, 2006

Like father, like son

"Will it hurt?"

He held his son's hand tenderly and looked at me in expectation.

I looked at into the boy's deep brown eyes and saw the tears drying on his long black lashes. His finger was swollen and painful, the nail protruding out at an impossible angle, held in position by clotted blood. I would have to clean his finger, check the nail bed for cuts and then reinsert his nail.

"I will put some local anaesthetic into the finger first. This will be painful, but afterwards, the whole finger will go numb, and there will be no more pain. You will feel me pushing your finger but it will not be painful."

The child nodded, his dark eyes wide. He was seven, but he understood what needed to be done. The muscles in his jaw tightened as he gritted his teeth together in anticipation. He bravely put out his hand towards me and shut his eyes, saying to his father, "I don't want to see the blood."

I began my work. Little Brave whimpered very quietly when I injected the anaesthetic into his hand. A few seconds later and his hands relaxed as the pain ebbed away. I could hear his father breathing stertorously behind me. The two student nurses who were observing the procedure began shuffling around, trying to find a good viewing point.

As I removed Little Brave's fingernail, I heard Big Brave gasping behind me, "Oh God Oh God Oh God." I turned round in time to see the Big Brave's eyes rolling back into his head and his body beginning to sag to the floor. Quickly but silently, I stuck my shoulder out into his chest to support his weight and motioned to the student nurses with my head.

He was a very heavy man to be leaning on my back. Very, very heavy.

As soon as the nurses helped Big Brave to a chair, Little Brave opened his eyes, saw his father's pallid complexion and began to cry and shake in fear, jerking his hand away from my grasp. At the sound of his son's sobbing, Big Brave's eyes flew open and he said loudly, "Don't worry son, everything will be fine." Immediately, Little Brave quietened and lay still.

Then he took another look at my bespattered gloves, blanched visibly and keeled over.

As soon as his head sagged back between his legs, he jerked awake again and yelled, "Don't worry, the doctor's nearly done!". Another glance in my direction and his head lolled to one side as he slumped back in the chair in another faint, only to recover five seconds later to holler, "It's all okay, son, I'm just napping! Everything is alright!".

I finished up the repair of Little Brave's fingernail, whilst Big Brave continued to pass out in the corner, occasionally waking to shout out more encouragements.

After the offending finger was safely swaddled in a mass of bandages and the student nurses had cleared away all the bloodstained swabs, Big Brave recovered from his swoon and took his son's hand.

His smile was bright in his ashen face and he said, "There, there, now that wasn't so bad was it? Say thank you to the doctor lady."

And I said, "Better thank your Daddy. He helped me alot."
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