Squirt the Nurse
27th May 2019
It is a privilege to be a children’s doctor. Over the years I have been able to treat children with cancer, cystic fibrosis and other conditions which can have a huge impact on their health. Being in hospital for a long time can have a massive effect on a child’s mental health, so I go out of my way to lighten the mood for them. I want to share a (“nearly true”) story of one particular incident nearly 20 years ago…
I’d been treating Zac for a couple of days. He was 9 years old and had been admitted with an infection which was going to need several weeks of treatment. Zac had a chronic condition that meant he was unlikely to live beyond his 40’s. He was low in mood so I thought I would try and cheer him up. I pulled out a large syringe,filled it with water and gave it to Zac. “Squirt the nurse when she comes in the room” I told him. His little face lit up like it was Christmas. Sure enough, when the nurse entered the room he pulled out the syringe and drenched her. She was not happy but she realised that this was a game. She left the room and returned a few minutes later armed with her own syringe. She returned fire! What happened next was not something I could have anticipated. Zac raised the stakes by getting a jug of water, the nurse returned with a bucket and other “sick children” on the ward joined in. Then, one of the children pulled out the fire hose and switched it on! I looked on in horror as the water gushed onto the ward. By the time I managed to regain control there was an inch of standing water on the ward, and we were on the 10th floor of the hospital. Professional cleaners had to be drafted in, the managers were not happy but the kids loved it!