Girls can be doctors!

This week my youngest swallowed a pound coin.

For those of you who aren’t yet rolling around on the floor laughing, the information you’re lacking is that less than a year ago my eldest child swallowed a pound coin!

Not content with the silver spoon up their arses they’re now also wanting to crap gold.

We digress.

For those of you who don’t have a child who has swallowed a pound coin, the thing to do is rush straight to A&E for a chest X-ray.  Joking aside, in a very small number of cases it can be a dangerous scenario if the coin has gone into the child’s lungs rather than into their stomach.

When we got to Kingston A&E we didn’t even get the chance to warm the waiting room seat before being called in to see Sister Nina who did the Triage checks.  The doctor overheard the conversation and he sorted out the X-ray paperwork at the same time so we went straight off to radiography.  We passed the nurses station where the ladies cooed at her Abbie’s ginger hair and then a rather handsome doctor pointed us in the direction of Radiography.

On the way to X-ray however Abbie came out with “So nurses are girls and the doctors are boys.”


Her sister wants to be a doctor!  Is she going to have to have a sex change?!?!?!

It was one of those unfortunate scenarios where everyone we had encountered along the way had fitted the gender stereotype.  All of the doctors Abbie had seen had been male.  All the nurses had been female.  Damn it.  On the way to radiography I hunted for a male nurse.  Unfortunately it’s only a 10 metre walk so I didn’t find one.

I tried to tell her that girls can be doctors and the boys can be nurses.  It’s not about your sex – it’s a choice you can make.  She didn’t believe me.  The evidence she’d seen with her own eyes proved otherwise.  She just rolled her eyes at me and changed the subject!!

The X-ray revealed that thankfully the coin had gone into her stomach which meant we went straight to the bottom of the ‘kids with daft ailments’ list and back to the waiting room to play with the toys that the paranoid mother was furiously cleaning with baby wipes!  In the end she stopped her kids playing with the toys altogether and insisted her children read the books instead.

The Male doctor (damn it) came over and didn’t even bother taking us into a cubicle!  Sat down, cool as a cucumber and told us “She’s fine, it will come out eventually.  Pretend this never happened and just get on with your lives.”

“Now this differs from the advice I received less than a year ago when I was in here because my eldest daughter had swallowed a pound coin”

“Nooo!  Your eldest daughter did it too?” he exclaimed, not judging me at all which surprised me somewhat.  The other mothers in the waiting room with genuinely ill children are now all fully tuned in to the conversation.

“YES!  I KNOW!!  Mad.  That time we were told we had to check the poo.”

“Well, you can if you want but coins are pretty harmless.  99.9% of the time they come through in their own time without causing any issues.”  He then listed the issues to look for – they’re pretty obvious.  If she blows up like a character in a Roald Dahl novel bring her back in!

“Coins are fine” he said.  “You’d be amazed what people swallow.  What adults swallow.  Adults swallow razor blades.”

WTF?  Why?  And how?  But mostly why?  I asked.  He didn’t know either.  He wishes they wouldn’t quite frankly.

“Is there anything else I can do for you” he said.

“Just one thing.”  I whispered my request in his ear.  He laughed.

“I know just the person” he said and strolled off to locate them.

Twenty seconds later around the corner came haring a female Registrar.  She stormed into the play area, approached Abbie with determination and boomed “OI, I’M A GIRL AND I’M A DOCTOR.  GIRLS CAN BE DOCTORS!”

The shock on Abbie’s face was hysterical.  Even the mothers with genuinely sick children couldn’t help but smile.  She went on…

“If you want to be a doctor then you can.  It’s not only the boys who get to have all the fun here.  The girls do too.  So, are you going to become a doctor then?”

Abbie said yes, literally out of fear!  I suspect that she’s more likely to become an actress but for now, job done.

She now knows that girls can be doctors.

And if she knows that girls can grow up to be doctors, then maybe she’ll start to wonder what else girls can grow up to be.


PS I laugh and joke but when I walked into the A&E unit at Kingston all of the staff, admin nursing and medical, were phenomenal.  They do an extraordinary job under great pressure and never judge.  I’ve cut out the professional elements of the conversations from this blog but they were all there in spades.  The staff gave the best care and attention I could wish for to my little girl.  On behalf of my family, THANK-YOU.







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SARAH CANTRILL is a woman on a mission to inspire every young child to become a reader for pleasure.  She is the Artistic Director & Founder of STORY STORKS, a social enterprise that delivers interactive story workshops to early years children and their grown ups, that help kids to fall in love with stories and develop their early language skills meaning that they have an easier time of learning to read when the time is right.  Infact 85% of the kids who come through STORY STORKS  are right where they should be or ahead in terms of progression through the reading book scheme once they get to school and the ones who are behind are trying hard because they know that it’s worth it – that to read is to unlock a whole world of fun and adventure and learning and imagination and they might take a bit longer to get there but they’re determined that get there they will.


8 thoughts on “Girls can be doctors!

  1. Oh dear, I’m so glad it all turned out well. My son, when young, fell on his chin 7 times, for a total of 23 stitches. They do start to look at you.
    I worked with a young(ish) man who married a divorced woman with children. One Monday morning I was asked to stay over for an hour or two to fill in for him. The youngest had swallowed a Loonie (a Canadian dollar coin) Friday night. It had lodged in a corner of the stomach and was tearing the lining. He had to drive the boy to the hospital.
    When he finally arrived, I asked him how old the child(?) was, expecting to hear 1 yr.-old, or 2. His answer??? 21??!….Then let this “man” drive himself. I ‘saw’ the usual newspaper statement, “Police believe alcohol was involved.” 😆 😯

    1. It’s incredible to think what people can swallow. If I asked my kids to swallow an advil I bet they couldn’t. Not that I’m going to ask them to do that of course. I’m not that bad a mother!

  2. Hahaha this was very relatable to..I’m a female doctor and the kids still ask ‘Are you a real doctor?’ 😂 I’m also in Urology, so I also get asked by every patient ‘but you’re a girl, how can you be my doctor? Where’s the male doctor?’ 🙈

    1. Sensational! I sent the blog via twitter to Kingston hospital who it turns out have a male ‘Head of Nursing’. If only I could have introduced her to him on the day. He did send her a very special tweet though which was really lovely.

  3. Pingback: The Poo Fairy!
  4. What a nice thing to find a female doctor and do that! People complain about the NHS but it’s things like this that go unnoticed! So you didn’t have to go through her poo to find the coin 😂😂

    1. Well, we did because you can’t have favourites! The second half to this story is The Poo Fairy post! I tweeted this blog to the local hospital as a thank-you and had female doctors and male nurses from around the world sending messages to my daughter!

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