Pectoriloquy |

How to Lumbar Puncture a Child FREE TO VIEW

Leah Kaminsky, MD
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Editor’s Note: “I wrote the first lines of the poem while I was an intern on a paediatric oncology ward. The detachment needed to perform invasive procedures on terrified children is something I still struggle with, even though I am now twenty years down the track.” The poet is an Australian family physician and the author of three books. She is the editor of an anthology by prominent doctor-writers and is currently in the MFA fiction program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).

© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2011;139(6):1543. doi:10.1378/chest.10-1339
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let the nurses bring it in and hold it down
don’t let its mother in the room
don’t smile or say hello
stand aside
stare out the window
blue sky above
car park below
don’t look into its eyes
don’t listen to its screams
don’t touch its fevered face
wash your hands clean
put on the gown
mask over your mouth
gloves on your hands
place the drape over its back
stare only at the square
of flesh exposed
take the needle from the tray
first stab a bullseye
if the spinal fluid drips out steadily
crystal clear
collect each drop
fill three yellow tubes
bandaid over the hole
remove your gown
remove your gloves
remove your mask
wash your hands
turn around
walk out the door
don’t look back




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