I am standing in front of a patient, listening to lung sounds.
By necessity, we are nearly mask to mask.
“It isn’t easy when friends pull away from you at school,” I say.
Under my stethoscope, shoulder blades stiffen. I pretend that I do not see this, or the rapid blinking. “You can feel isolated, and think, ’I did something wrong to be treated this way.’”
A short bob of the head, and more blinking as I transfer my stethoscope to the other side of the kiddo’s back.
Mom is in the corner, leaning forward— I just know from the shape of her mask that her mouth is open and she’s about to call me out for talking about bullying. About the events Mom described over the last 20 minutes, events from the last school year filled with physical, verbal, and emotional bullying from teacher and students.
“And once you’re thinking, ‘I did something wrong,’” I continue, pulling my arm in between us to listen to heart sounds, but looking the kid in the eyes, “It’s really easy for your brain to go right from there to ‘I am made wrong’ or ‘Everything about me is wrong’.”
Looking the kid in the eyes, I say, 'It’s really easy for your brain to go right from there to ‘I am made wrong’ or ‘Everything about me is wrong’'. #amwriting Click To Tweet
Those eyes are starting to really water, now, so I take my earbuds out of my ears and stick the stethoscope in my pocket, and reach for Self and Spirit.
“I’m a stranger, so maybe you’ll believe me where you don’t believe your family.” I wink, then sober.
“You are /perfect/.”
“Your brain is human and it wants to go back to what happened again and again, looking for a way that you could have done something differently to be treated differently.”
“And there is nothing you said, nothing you ate, nothing you wore, nothing you did that caused you to be treated like this.”
“Because you. Are. Perfect.”
I am startled as a thin body lunges forward with desperation, squeezing me tight with arms that are six shades darker than my own, tears wetting my shirt.
After a few minutes of sobbing, I hear, “Doctor Evans?”
“I hope you believe me. I love you so much.”