September 22, 2006, 5:58 am

Pedi in the ER: Teeny Little Super Guys! Part One


Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places.

My oldest daughter sent me a You Tube video of my favorite Sesame Street character.

The Teeny Little Super Guy.

She reminded me that this is what we called my son when he was a toddler.

Unknowingly, she also reminded me of a very special patient from the past.

A pediatric patient.

And you know, sometimes those teeny little super guys remind me why I love my job.


It’s 0513 and I was the first person at my favorite Starbucks this morning.

I was standing at the door at 0500 when they unlocked it.

Pathetic, isn’t it.

But….I have the whole Starbucks to myself, the cushy chair in the corner and some good ol’ Motown to keep me blogging away. Right now I’m groovin’ to Martha and the Vandellas!

Belinda Carlisle was right.

Heaven really can be a place on earth!


The unit was crazy busy.

I had the unenviable position of being the shift Charge Nurse.

This meant I manned the triage desk in the small room behind registration.

An adult male presented at the door as I frantically finished charting the initial assessment of the last patient. I looked up, smiled and asked him to please have a seat; I’d be with him in just a moment.

My peripheral vision caught a blur of pink as it passed me and plopped into the other chair. Apparently the adult was not the patient.

As I finished writing the assessment of the previous patient, my new patient began bemoaning the lack of progress she had made on her math homework.

“Oh man, I can’t believe what my teacher gave us today. I can’t even deal with it! I’m just barely through it!”

I looked up from the chart and looked at the new patient in the chair.

She was blond. Blue eyes the size of saucers behind her tiny pink glasses.

Pink was obviously her favorite color.

I handed the now completed chart to the registration clerk.

“What is it you are working on?” I asked.

Rolling her eyes to the ceiling, she recounted her assignment.

“We have to pick the number that is three more than the other number!”

She was seven years old and in the second grade. To hear her talk, you would think she was taking Calculus at the local university.

I fell in love.


Persistent cough interfering with sleep and intermittent fever.

She gave me her previous health history, telling of her surgeries as an infant for two holes in her heart. Seven years old and she gave a better history than half the adults I see.

As my petite mathematician had brought her homework with her, she asked me for a pencil.

Did I mention this was about 11:00 pm?


I kept triaging without a break.

About an hour later, the tiny blond math whiz peeked around the edge of the triage door.

Excusing myself to the patient I was talking to, I asked if she needed something.

She handed me a clipboard with a piece of paper on it.

It was a picture.

“To Nurse Kim” it said.

It was a picture of my patient in pink, her heart prominently drawn in the anatomically appropriate location, standing next to her doctor (labeled). They were connected by a giant heart drawn between them.

She signed it “Love, Dorothy”.

I told her that I was going to take it home and put it on my refrigerator.

And that is where it went.

And where it still hangs to this day.


I ran into Dorothy’s father a few days later as he was walking through the ER.

I told him to tell Dorothy that her picture was hanging in my house like I promised.

And then I thought of something. We were awfully busy that night.

Had Dorothy received her ER teddy bear and special colorbook with crayons?

Why no, she had not!


Fortunately, I was able to remedy that right then and there. I sent Dad home with a goodie bag.

From Nurse Kim to one of her favorite patients.

For the picture.

For bringing a tiny bit of pleasure into a hectic day.

And for making it through those two surgeries.

You certainly made my heart feel happier.

Here’s to future all those future math subjects you will study.

Something tells me that you’ll be at the top of the class.


  • Peggy

    September 22, 2006 at 8:24 pm

    I totally remember and loved teeny little super guy, but I don’t remember if it was from my childhood or my children’s childhood..I loved Sesame Street.

    Sweet storys about the Peds patients….it must just make your heart melt.

  • Shinga

    September 24, 2006 at 8:30 am

    Aaah – it’s times like this that you forget every child whose vomit, mucous or worse has caused you to throw out your clothes or made you mindful of the virtues of counting to 10.

    Regards – Shinga

  • Kyla

    October 21, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    I’m here on the Pediatric Grand Rounds tour….I had totally forgotten about teeny little super guy, but he was my favorite!! What memories!

    PS- The next time we are in the hospital, I hope we get a nurse like you. 🙂

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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