Momwithastethoscope's Weblog

September 17, 2009

Loving Pediatric Medicine – the anti-rant

Filed under: Office,pediatrics,positive medicine,Uncategorized — momwithastethoscope @ 1:23 pm
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photo from NatGeo

Sea otters hold the world's record for densest coat with 650,000 hairs per square inch. They are a protected species after being hunted for their pelts in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Reason Number 17:  Hair. 

“He had more hair than you would think a single skull could hold.  His hair – blue-black, thick and straight – it did not have the hard sheen of the hair of the Chinese or Japanese but had the soft look of fabric.”

About Julian Singh in E.L. Konigsburg’s The View From Saturday

“Hair is vitally personal to children.  They weep vigorously when it is cut for the first time;  no matter how it grows, bushy, straight, or curly, they feel they are being shorn of part of their personality.”

Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography. 1964

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

Khalil Gibran

Toddler curls that cascade and rebound when tugged.  The brushy feel of a new summer buzz cut.  Silky, inky braids. A shock of  dense hair on a newborn.  I love the endless variety of color, texture, and length of hair on children.  I make it my professional responsibility to examine  a patient’s hair during a physical, but secretly, playing with all the different strands is a marvel.

One patient in my practice is recovering from Alopecia universalis.  At the onset of the diagnosis, I felt I was in mourning  and panic each time she presented to my office.  Her pre-diagnosis hair was lovely shoulder length blonde.  It was the type of blonde that we adults strive for – bright strands intermixed with tawny like the sun knew what it was doing each time it touched her head.  I referred her to three different dermatologists in hopes that one would have a new protocol for stemming the loss of this patient’s eyebrow, scalp, and even nostril hair.  Despite the collective efforts of her mother, myself, and the dermatologists, my patient lost all of her hair.  She has handled the course in the face of uncertain prognosis with grace and a great wig.  Eight months later, small tufts are beginning to come back.  

Once a mom came to my office with her preschooler, and she told me that she knew the child was sick because her hair wasn’t right.  It turns out she was right, so maybe I’m on to something by examining the ringlets of infants and the swath of hair covering the eyes of the young teen.  Maybe it’s not just curious fascination, but yet another clue to the inner workings of my patients.


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