One day Arnold and his little brother Danny were playing with their cars, racing them across the kitchen floor. It was great fun.

Arnold’s Mum came into the kitchen and they stopped playing. It was time for their glass of milk and a biscuit. Good, They were both hungry.

As they sat at the table with their drink and biscuit Arnold’s Mum told him that the hospital had sent her a letter. Arnold looked up. He remembered going to see the doctor in a place called the clinic. That was the part of the hospital where you went to see the doctor and then went home the same day. That was quite good.

Arnold asked Mum “Why has the hospital sent you a letter?” “Well” she said “The doctor wants to see you again, it won't take long and we’ll be home in time for tea.”

Arnold finished his biscuit and thought hard. He didn't mind going to hospital, especially when he knew he could go home again but he wondered why he was going.

He asked his Mum. She told him that he was going for a test, a test called an ULTRASOUND. That sounded frightening and Arnold’s bottom lip started to tremble.

“Now don’t get upset” said his Mum giving him a big hug at the same time. “It really is a very simple test and it doesn’t hurt at all.” She explained that the doctor would want Arnold to lie on a special couch in a special room. He would have to lie on his tummy and maybe his back and be very still.

Arnold knew about lying still. He was very good at it when he tried hard.

The doctor would then put some gel on Arnold’s back. “What’s gel?” asked Arnold “Is it like jelly?” His Mum laughed and said “It’s not like jelly and ice cream. Gel is cold squidgy stuff and is jolly messy, it’s a bit like your Bath Slime. Well after the doctor has put the cold squidgy gel onto your back he will then gently rub the gel around your back using a round smooth bit of plastic. The bit of plastic will be attached to a television, and by looking a the television screen the doctor will be able to tell what is happening inside you.”

“Inside me” said Arnold. “Are you sure?”

“Yes” said his Mum.

“That’s clever. And it won’t hurt?” asked Arnold.

“No” replied his Mum “It won’t hurt at all.”

That evening Arnold was getting ready to have a bath. it was great fun because he was allowed to play with Bath Slime and get good and messy first.

“I know” said his Dad “Let’s play at ultrasound.” Arnold didn’t know that game. “Like the hospital test” his Dad said.

Dad asked Arnold to lie on his tummy, and then he put some cold, squidgy Bath Slime on his back. “Ooh!” shouted Arnold “That feels cold ... and yucky.”

Dad then picked up the shampoo bottle and using the rounded plastic end he rubbed the slime gently around Arnold’s back. “Ooh that feels slimy” said Arnold “but it doesn’t hurt.” When Dad had finished Arnold leapt up.

Danny wanted a turn and Arnold helped by playing the doctor and putting the gel on Danny’s back. By the time they’d finished they were covered in gel and really needed their bath.

The next week Arnold, his little brother and Mum and Dad all went up to the hospital. They went to the x-ray department. Arnold and Danny found some toys to play with and began to play a game.

The doctor came to fetch Arnold and they went with his Dad into a room. It had a special couch in the middle and next to it was a machine with a television on top. That must be the ULTRASOUND machine, Arnold thought. Dad lifted him onto the couch and Arnold took off his T-shirt.

Arnold then had to lie on his tummy. He didn’t want to and he started to get frightened but Dad just reminded him on the game they’d played with the Bath Slime, and he felt better. He knew it wouldn’t hurt and would just be a bit messy, so he lay very still on his tummy. The doctor explained what he was going to do.

“Here comes the gel” he said. Splat! Some cold gel was put on Arnold’s back. “Cold and squidgy” said Arnold and laughed. The doctor then said he was going to rub the gel around his back. Arnold lay very still.

Arnold could feel the doctor moving the smooth bit of plastic and the gel over his back. It really did feel just like it had in the game he’d played with Daddy and the Bath Slime. On the television screen there was a pattern of black and white shapes that the doctor was looking at, but it made no sense to Arnold or his Dad. “Can you see what Arnold had for breakfast?” asked Dad. “No” the doctor laughed “I can’t see that.” After a couple of minutes the doctor said he had finished and that he would wipe the gel off now.

As soon as that was done Arnold was allowed to sit up and his Dad helped him put his T-shirt back on. The doctor told Arnold how good he’d been at lying still, and gave him a badge with his name on saying what a brave boy he was.

Dad and Arnold left the room with the special couch and the ULTRASOUND machine in and went back to the playroom. There Mum and Danny were painting a picture. Arnold said he was going to paint a picture of the ULTRASOUND. Luckily he finished quite quickly as it was soon time to go again, and off they went, Arnold, Danny, Mum and Dad to get back home for tea.

Content compiled by members of the Children’s Renal & Urology Unit, QMC Campus, Nottingham University Hospitals.

The National Kidney Federation cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor