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The Informed Parent

You Have To Laugh: Apple Juice

by Louis P. Theriot, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jan. 01, 1997

It was one of those busy Monday mornings that seemed to have no end in sight. All of my rooms were full, and it was everything that I could do to try to keep on schedule. As I came out of one of my examining rooms, I met Tim and his mom. They were being led by a nurse into my next room. I shook my head in disbelief as Tim towered over his mom. At 15 years of age, he had a tremendous growth spurt this past year, and has matured into a nice young man. With them was Tim's little sister who is three years old. It is hard to believe that Tim, at one time, was ever that small.

I knew that Tim was coming in for a school "sports physical". I had just seen his parents two nights ago at a Christmas party. Our families are close friends and his mom said that they'd be in soon. As we passed in the hall, I assured them that it would not be long. In the meantime, the nurse could get Tim's height and weight, check his blood pressure, and Tim could give us a urine specimen.

While I was finishing with the next patient, one of my partners knocked on my door and asked if I could step outside to discuss one of his patients. While "consulting" in the hallway, I noticed that the door to Tim's room was half open. I could see him, but he could not see me. From his room I heard giddy laughter. He had taken his sister's apple juice and poured some into the urine cup. The trap had been set...or so he thought.

When it was Tim's turn to be seen, I knocked on the door and entered--very business-like. I shook mom's hand and asked about their Christmas. I spread out the paperwork in front of me and looked down as if deep in thought. Through my peripheral vision, I was watching Tim watch me so he could time his "drinking from the cup" just right. As I looked up to begin the history, he brought the cup up to his lips. Just as he took a big swig, I leaned back and pressed the intercom button behind me. In a very concerned voice I said, "Nurse! I think you made a mistake. I believe you gave Tim the urine cup that Melissa used this morning". They say that timing is everything. I don't think that I could have timed this any better.

Tim froze in mid-gulp. His eyes bulged as the color drained from his face. He abruptly handed the cup to his mother, jumped up, and danced around the room not knowing whether to spit in the trash can or the sink. I winked at mom and said, "Psych!! You have to get up pretty early...". The rest of the exam was uneventful.

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