Her grip on my hand is tight. Almost as tight as the elastic on the oxygen mask stretched across her face, digging furrows into her thin, sallow skin.
In medical school, I was taught to sit at eye level when speaking to patients, ask how they would prefer to be addressed, and ask open-ended questions to allow them to express themselves. I learned to interject with “That must be really difficult for you,” or “I can only imagine how that makes you feel,” as a way to show empathy and foster better connection with patients.
Today, I made a two-year-old cry because I wanted to look into his eyes to rule out vision-threatening disease. The light was too bright, the lens was too close, and the attention was too much.