One of the scariest parts of Paediatrics was the time a little child was brought in for hallucinations. She had no fever, no fits, no suggestive medical or family history of psychiatric or organic causes.
Her fear was palpable. She was so little that she could not describe – even to her mother – what she was seeing. But she screamed and pointed at a void. I tried to calm her down. I would spend about five minutes reassuring her and trying to convince her that there was nothing dangerous around. She would nod and relax for another five minutes…
and then she would jump, as if in fright, and start screaming in fear again, pointing to her arms or her tummy or an empty space in the ward.
The doctor eventually ordered a sedative. They needed a massive dose to finally calm her down.
I wish I could say I learned something from this, but when I returned to the ward an hour later, she had been moved to a different ward (perhaps with psychiatry?). So I don’t even know if they ever found the cause.
It was, hands down, one of the times I have felt most inept.