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The Funny Side of Fostering. A trip to A&E.


Today I was called by school to collect a 6-year-old lad, ‘J’, with a piece of paper stuck in his ear.

Yes. In his ear!

“Why did you do that?” I asked

“I wanted to see what would happen.” Came the reply.

So, this is what happened….

A 4 hour wait at A&E.

Only 20 mins in and he was already saying he wished he hadn’t put the paper in his ear. I was bombarded with a string of pleas….

“I can still hear” “Can we go home coz it’s not hurting me.”

“I’m hungry”

The snack machine was out of order, it was my fault according to J, as I should have brought something for him to eat. I did remind him that I was out in town when I got the call from school to come immediately and so I hadn’t had time to pack a picnic!

“I’m still hungry!”

“I really can still hear.”

“I don’t mind the paper being in there, I’ve got used to it now….. Can we go home?”

We didn’t, obviously.

At last J’s name was called and he skipped after the nurse whilst I quickly tidied up after him then hurried after the pair of them down the corridor, laden down with his water bottle, book bag, school bag, jumper and his shoes, which he had taken off some three and a half hours ago.

We then sat in an anteroom for another 20 minutes before being called into a cubicle where, I attempted to answer a series of his questions. “What’s this?” “What’s that?” interspersed with me occasionally saying “Don’t touch!” or “No, Leave it there.” Or “Come and sit down, the doctor will be here soon.”

Eventually when we did see the doctor J was asked what had happened, to which he replied,

“Didn’t they tell you?” in an indignant way,

“Well there’s this piece of paper stuck in my ear!” - as if it had appeared miraculously!

The doctor then proceeded to examine J.

He showed him an otoscope and began looking into his ear.

At this point I was almost in stitches, because every time the doctor put the otoscope into J’s ear, J turned his head around to see if he could watch what was happening!




After 3 or 4 attempts, being asked each time to keep his head very still, J realised that you can’t actually see your ear by turning your head round. And because the doctor was asking him to stay very still, he now held his chin firmly in place with his hands…..

Which did keep his head in the desired position, but he then started to strain his eyes round as far as he could towards his ear!!

I thought they were going to pop out of his head!

Even the doctor was smiling quietly. He explained to J that he wouldn’t be able to see into his own ear as obviously he’s not a contortionist. Then, in order to indulge the lads’ interest and commitment to the process of seeing what it looked like inside his ear, the doctor asked me if perhaps J could look inside my ear instead.

J turned to me with a surprised look and said, “Why have you got paper stuck in your ear too?”

After trying very hard not to laugh, I obliged, and the doctor allowed J to look into my ear. He explained that this was just like the inside of his ear, except without the bit of paper. He then explained that now he would take another look into J’s ear and asked if he could try to stay really still this time.

He did, but I had no idea that J thought this meant to stop breathing too….

The doctor retrieved the piece of paper within moments. It was about a quarter of the size of a pea!

As he showed the small grubby offering to J, I noticed that J’s cheeks were puffing up like a hamster.

He opened his eyes wide and with a startled look fixed on his face he began frantically pointing to his mouth!

The doctor assured him that it was ok to breathe now at which he let out the most enormous breath, blowing the fragment of paper right out of the doctors hand, forcing it across the room in the gale force exhalation, and spraying the doctor with saliva in the process!

Rather than apologising for the unexpected shower, J leapt out of the chair and threw himself in a rugby tackle style dive, under the examination couch and wriggled along the floor on his belly to retrieve the fragment. He then re-appeared with the prize of the day held triumphantly between his fingers, whilst grinning from ear to ear.

The doctor, who was now washing his hands, looked at me and smiled, taking it all in his stride as J inspected the small offering he had retrieved and said, “What?! I’ve been waiting 4 hours for that…? It’s really tiny!”

The doctor said, “Well it was only a tiny bit of paper wasn’t it?”

“NO, said J, “It was much bigger than that before I started pushing it in!”

“Ah!”, said the doctor. “It must have got smaller with all that pushing and prodding then. No wonder your ear is quite red inside,” Then he added, “What made you put a piece of paper in your ear anyway?”

“Oh, nothing really, I just wondered what would happen!” And whilst replying and with a wide cheeky grin on his face J started to open his eyes wide and put the paper up towards his ear as if he were about to reinsert it.

The doctor was quick to react saying, “NO! don’t do that!” just as J burst into fits of laughter saying, “Fooled you! I wasn’t really going to do it!” as he collapsed to the floor laughing at his own wit.

“Ah, good”, said the” doctor, relieved. “So, have you learned your lesson?”

“Yes”, said J! And I missed my lesson too! My football lesson! So, I won’t be doing that again now I know what happens!”

“Can I go home now……. I’m starving?”

At least the doctor was patient, even if the patient was extremely trying!

Belinda Wells

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