Thursday, May 31, 2007

Aspiring to reach blasé – Introducing Mncedisi (9 of 10)


The look that Mncedisi is giving the camera is the same look he fixed on me for the duration of our clinic visit.

It is a facial expression that I have only rarely seen worn by an adult.

Time teaches old folks not to stare. We learn to hide our curiosity and dilute our public displays of wonder.

The word "wow", a daily expression for the newbies as they experience the world anew, rarely survives adolescence.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy the pediatric patient population. (Vicarious youth is better than none at all, no?)

Well, Mncedisi's raw stare of curious wonderment was as interminable as it was unapologetic.

Though this was a typical day for this Swaziland-based pediatrician, this was not a typical day for Mncedisi, and he didn't want to miss anything.

As you can see, he didn't miss much.

He studied everything. He watched my stethoscope move toward his chest and stop there. He looked at me, then the bell of the device, me, then the tube of the device, me, then his mom, me, then back to the bell, and so on.

Then his hands got involved. He touched each part of the stethoscope, with alternating looks at me and mom. (The right hand he has casually resting on his jacket in the photo went immediately for the camera when it was within reach.)

We don't know if Mncedisi is HIV positive yet. His DNA PCR is still being processed by a lab in South Africa.

Regardless of his status, he will have the opportunity to grow up and see many new things. He will even grow old enough that those new things begin to seem routine.

Wouldn't it be great if every child were able to be around long enough to know what it felt like to be bored, unimpressed?

Wow. Now that would be something.



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