Monday, May 9, 2011

How to survive having a BIG Needle go into Your Child's Little Arm

In all the Parenting books she's ingested, JCK wonders how she could possibly have missed this one. It must have been in very small print. At the back. Titled: Why Not? Inducing a Nervous Breakdown for your Child and Yourself, Part XIII.

JCK is absolutely certain in all those bloody pages, those preachy, smug pages, there was never, ever a section on: How to survive having a BIG Needle go into Your Child's Little Arm and draw out Blood. Nope. JCK is sure she didn't read that anywhere.

After days of procrastination, JCK has decided she has to buck up and take her boy to the lab tomorrow. Accompanied by her small girl. Because they travel in 3's. Her son's pediatrician has ordered blood work, and JCK must fulfill her parenting duties.

JCK would like to point out that she will be the only adult there. Her husband E.K. is noticeably busy tomorrow. JCK is hoping that he will suddenly be afflicted with GUILT over THIS, and decide he must accompany them posthaste. If this doesn't happen...JCK hopes that the fleas of a thousand camels will inflict his arm pits.

You see JCK comes from a long line of Fainters or Pass-her-Outers. Those who keel over in dizziness, and wake up later in a cold sweat on a strange couch. In fact, this family generational weakness goes back so far that JCK believes her ancestors invented the Fainting Couch.

JCK would like to point out...there have been No offers of HELP from the man who doesn't faint.

JCK will be fine! She will be strong. She will not need smelling salts from the Dead Sea. Except that... this is her son, who tends to swing between panic and MORE PANIC in just his natural rhythms. Her son who feels everything on a BIGGER level. Like Elliot in E.T. Except that JCK isn't sure who is beaming those feelings into her little guy. She just knows he's got buckets of them.

But, no worries! Just in case the world is still here tomorrow, JCK has ordered The Special Ointment. It is so special that it had to be special ordered. Hence its name...The Special Ointment.

When the pediatrician handed JCK the lab order form two weeks ago, and it fluttered to the floor uncaught by JCK's trembling fingertips, he seemed to realize that he would have to do something drastic. This was when he whipped out the order sheet for The Special Ointment. An ointment so special that it is an anesthetic. Smiling he told her that she could rub it on her son's inner elbows 30 minutes before the big needle STICK, and he wouldn't feel a thing. Really? Really. JCK could even do a practice test if she wanted.

JCK is beyond hopeful that The Special Ointment, The Special Anesthetic Ointment, will work. She is counting on it. She has promised her son that afterwards they will go to the store and pick out a BIG TOY, and then go home and eat ICE CREAM. JCK is pulling out all the stops. JCK is blubbering herself to sleep...

JCK can't think about the possibility that The Special Ointment will not work. Or, that her son will panic and create a fracas in the laboratory. All is possible with her son of many colors. But, if The Special Ointment doesn't work for pain reduction for her son, she figures she can add it to her Boudoir Collection. 15 years of marriage. Some Special Anesthetic Ointment might come in handy...

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  1. ack! I just wrote an essay length comment and blogger ate it!

  2. Ok.. I'm going to try again. My daughter Delaney started having regular blood draws when she was five because she has thyroid disease so we have lots of experience with this.. so here are a few suggestions for you.

    First: Stay calm. I know you already know this but it bears repeating because it really is kind of hard. The calmer you are the calmer your boy will be.. even if he is freaked out he will be less freaked out if you are calm.
    Second: Sing songs, or tell jokes, or draw little circles on a piece of paper.. we have done all of these and more.. whatever it takes to distract him, especially while you are stuck sitting in the waiting room. After the first few times Delaney started developing her own coping techniques. Mostly she told me really bad jokes and I laughed. One time the phlebotomist told her he was going to use a "butterfly needle" and she asked if it was a vampire butterfly. She still expects me to laugh at that joke EVERY time we go for a blood draw! ;-)
    Third: Let the technician do their job. They are usually pretty good at dealing with meltdowns and if you act as if you trust them then your little guy is more likely to trust them too. Usually the fastest most competent tech gets assigned the kids and they rarely use giant needles. Most of the time they use Delaney's favorite, vampire butterflies (insert laugh here), which are tiny little needles with plastic wings to help the tech guide them.
    Fourth: After it's all over it's time for a treat and lots of praise. Even if he didn't do so well it is a good thing to end the trip in a positive way so that the next time he might not be quite so afraid.

    Oh.. and the special ointment really did work for Delaney but after the first few blood draws she didn't need it anymore. Good luck Mom!

  3. Dylan had to have blood drawn to test for his allergies and I was a nervous wreck. I think I managed to hide my fear, though, because he didn't pick up on it, and was totally fine. He didn't even cry! Hopefully, you'll be surprised by how easy it is also.

  4. So sorry. Wish I was closer to you, I'd go with. I don't love having blood drawn myself so have developed a bunch of ways to keep myself distracted. It would be good to be able to pass them on to a new generation. You'll do fine. You'll Keep Calm & Carry On. And then you'll all go to the store and have a big treat.

  5. Ahhh, remember it well, that feeling that I was betraying my child by standing there uselessly while some nurse or doctor jabbed him into screaming pain. I cried the first time. And the second. Probably the third and fourth too. These are the moments when being a good parent also means inflicting pain on your child. One of the big conundrums. But it always seemed that within a literal second, it was all over, the little toy or lollipop (depending on age) quickly moved into view and teary eyes lit up for the prize given for bravery. It'll be fine, your boy will be fine...but we all know the drill. Deep breath, one quick second, and back to smiles! Sweet article, Jennifer, as always.

  6. Dude, I am so sorry about that. My son also had blood work a few months back and it was not fun. No special ointment for us. Keep us posted.

    Hey, I'm finally emailing you back.


  7. My son has a hard time with needles (probably because of 8 sets of stitches in 8 years)--we just white knuckle it. The biggest thing I can say is that it is presented as not a choice. Plus, bribe away. Good luck.

  8. In our house, a blood test always means donuts! Alas, we are experts at both.

  9. Very curious to learn about the effectiveness of The Special Ointment. I sure could have used some of that a few years ago, all three kids submitted to blood draws for their participation in an NIH study. It was harrowing, me being the parent chosen to go into the room and talk them through it. Not fun.

  10. I still hate having blood drawn, even at my age.

    One of my coping techniques is to not look at it. of course, I haven't tried this technique by proxy on another small person, but for me, as long as I look at something completely different when the needle goes in, I barely feel it.

    Could this help Boy, along with the special ointment?

    the goofy thing is, once they've already poked me, I kind of like watching the little tubes fill up and watching the way they use those valves. Is that sick?

  11. well, we should be more watchful to them.


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