Tickles, tips, and tears

I left the kids behind with Himself and trekked up the stairs to the health office. My scheduled campers were there in addition to Drew, the boy who gorged himself on cake, and Matt the tether ball injury. It didn’t take me long at all to distribute the medications. I waved Drew in next. He entered the room as Bobbo leaned against the door and crossed his arms to supervise.

“So, how ya doing today?” I asked Drew.

“All better”

“No more belly aches?”


“Is it OK if I listen to your belly with my stethoscope?” Drew nodded and pulled up his t-shirt. I grabbed the stethoscope off the desk and had a good listen as I sat in the chair in front of Drew. There were plenty of rumblings going on in there.

“I can hear the cake moving through your system quite nicely. Now is it OK if I feel your belly?” Drew nodded again. “You tell me if it hurts, OK?” I gently started to try to palpate his little tummy starting in the lower right quadrant when he flinched. I stopped and pulled my hands away.

“Are you OK?” I looked up quickly as Drew bent forward giggling hysterically and pulled his shirt back down.

It tickles!

“It tickles!” Drew explained through his laughter. His giggles were so contagious that Bobbo and I burst into laughs too.

“Oh, you are a tickle-ly one!” I said as our laughter petered out. “Well I have just the trick for that! My I have your hands?” Drew held his hands out to me. I gently held them and explained that we were going to try it together. We started again in his lower right quadrant and with me guiding his hands and gently prodding his tummy we both were able to palpate all four quadrants without any more giggles. It was a trick I had learned in a physical assessment class and worked like a charm!

“No pain anywhere?” Drew shook his head. “I think you are good to go then, little man!”

“Thank you!”

“Thanks Anne!” Bobbo said. “So Drew is cleared to help with Visitor’s Day clean up?”

“100% clear.” I said as I stood up. Drew jumped up, cheered, tore out past Bobbo and down the stairwell.

“We just wanted you to check on Matt’s thumb again too, please, Anne.” Bobbo indicated towards Matt who was sitting in the hallway.

“Sure thing.”I said to Bobbo. “Come on in, Matt! Let’s look at that thumb.”

Matt came in, greeted me, sat down in the chair and thrust his thumb into my face. I snapped my head back just in time to avoid having him poke me in the eye.

“OK!” I said as I laughed, startled. I had a good look at it. There was nothing visibly abnormal about it. No swelling, no bruising. He had full range of motion.

“I’m pretty happy with the looks of this thumb. Does it hurt at all, Matt?”

“It’s a little stiff is all,” he shrugged as he moved his thumb in little circles.

“That makes sense.  Maybe lay off the tether ball for a few days. OK?”

“Awh man!” Matt complained. “But I’m headed into training for the championships!”

“Well, all the more reason to take a little break. You want to be at the top of your game when you compete. Right? Rest the thumb up so that it’s good to go and you will have complete confidence in your ability to perform.”

“That’s true,” Matt nodded as he looked at me thoughtfully.

“Ya. That’s good advice, Matt.” Bobbo piped up. Matt bowed his head as he considered. Bobbo and I looked at each other over Matt’s head and we both tried to suppress smiles.

“Do you need a nurse’s note?” I offered helpfully.good-advice

“Maybe. I will let you know,” Matt said with complete seriousness. “May I go now, please?”

“Absolutely. Enjoy your day with your family Matt.” I said as I patted him on the shoulder. Matt walked past Bobbo and head towards the stairwell. Bobbo turned to leave and then, leaning into the office as he held onto the doorway.

“Thanks for your help, Anne. We are very grateful that you are here at camp. I hope you know that.” Bobbo said.

“Oh! I didn’t expect that, Bobbo. Thank you for that.” My voice faltered a little. ” You are very welcome.” I smiled as I teared up.

“It’s just that we all  know that you are a volunteer. The rest of the staff at least get paid to come up here, and you don’t. And it is a tough job in a tough environment, no doubt. No one ever can be completely prepared for their first summer at camp, but you seem to be doing well. So, I just wanna say that I sure do appreciate what you are doing here.” I just smiled and nodded. Bobbo gave me a thumbs up and left.

I stood still and waited until I heard the stairwell door close. Then I quietly shut the health office door, pulled the chair over to the desk, and sat down. I placed my elbows on the desk and covered my face with my hands. That’s when I let the tears flow.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s