The 7 month old and the Stranger Anxiety


I walked into the ICU cubicle. I had been asked to do a routine abdominal scan for a 50 year old on Bed J3. Her kidneys were failing and I was here to assess the extent. As I walked in, I spotted the screen parting J2 from J3. Through the gap between the screen and the wall, I could see the face of a cute little infant placed under a warmer and covered all over with his head peeking out. He looked anxious, after all at 7 months, no child plans to make friends. His anxious eyes kept darting around, searching for that familiar face of his mother. He was breathing hard, each breath accompanied by the fear of being left alone in a room where everyone is dressed in green gowns and concealing face masks.

The nurse in charge came over to inform that even the little fellow needed an ultrasound. I agreed to work him up after attending to the lady. While I was winding up with that exam, his mom had come over – it was time to feed him. His eyes lit up on seeing her, his cries got louder, tears started rolling out of his eyes, he was speaking to her in words only she could understand. She wrapped him up into the cradle of her arms and he knew he was safe from the strange world of the ICU.

I sneaked out for my own lunch in the meantime and was back again to work him up. He was once again lying alone, sobbing. I walked over to the side of his bed. The nurse helped expose his abdomen. I tried to distract him as he was being prepared for the scan, my words fell onto deaf ears. to him I was just another stranger with another strange looking device about to probe his life out. I gently applied the gel over his stomach, but the chill of the ICU jelly normally sends even semi conscious adults into jitters. He brought his hand onto my probing hand, begging not to be hurt, I distracted him handing my pen from my pocket. He seemed to ignore it initially but once like every other older child, he realized all I was doing was lightly mobilizing a probe on his stomach and the whole procedure did not involve any pain, he left his guard. All of a sudden, he was calm, quiet and cooperative. Transferring the pen from one hand to another, admiring the material, he played on while I completed his exam. When I took the probe off finally, he once again refocused his attention onto me, the total stranger .. and he was right back to where he began, sobbing, I hope he leaves the ICU real soon and returns to the comfort and security of his mother. God bless.

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