Fortunately, thanks to his current medication, therapeutic steps and relaxation techniques, we’ve arrived to a place where our son was willing to get his blood drawn, no longer using ELMA cream to numb the skin and Ativan to relax him. But after friday’s blood draw, we may be taking a step backwards.
My son started the appointment with a great attitude, feeling pretty excited that he was missing out on a spelling test. When the staff brought us back, I explained that he had a history of anxiety when it comes to blood work and that we needed to do a few things to help him relax.
The first step was getting my son plugged into my iPhone where he could listen to relaxing sounds like the ocean and forest. As I was preparing the headset, I asked the nurse to wait until he was listening to the music. The nurse responded, “Sure, no problem”. But it was taking me a little longer than normal and I apologized and told her that I was hurrying as fast as I could. Then to our complete surprise, the nurse stuck the needle in his arm. Both my son and I were stunned, I immediately told my son to put his focus on his DS game, but then I noticed that the nurse was having problems getting blood into the vial. So the other nurse began moving the needle around, twisting it in different directions hoping to get the blood to flow.
It was then that I realized that the nurse was probably in training, thus requiring the second nurse to supervise. I tried to keep my son calm, seeing the anxiety rise. Then the nurse announce that we needed to try a different vein.
Oh crap! That’s all my mind could think. I could feel my own heart racing as I tried to keep my son calm, reassuring him that we would be done soon. As they stuck the needle in a different vein, the blood started to flow, but after about 4 bottles, my son looked at me as his face turned pale and mumbled, “I feel sick...”
Then a moment later, he fainted and slumped down into the chair.
Of course I freaked out, but the nurses calmly said, “Oh, don’t worry, this happens all the time,” as they pulled the needle out of his arm with 4 empty vials still remaining.
If you have a child with a needle phobia and a mood disorder, I don’t think I need to explain the panic I was feeling at this moment. Yes, my son would recover from the fainting spell, but how were we going to get the rest of the required blood?
After a moment too long, my son started to awaken, realizing that he had passed out. His cry was heartbreaking and the look in his eyes told me all I needed to know. He was done with the lab.
I instantly began the work of calming him back down, asking the nurses to give us a moment, trying my best to make him feel safe and avoid a public rage. I also had to explain that we weren’t done and that they needed to stick his other arm to complete the blood test.
As I tried my best to reestablish a calm state in him, one of the nurses in a very loud, rude voice popped her head back into the room and announce that we needed to hurry this up because they had a lot of other people waiting.
It was then that my Mama Bear claws came out.
I calmly walked up to the nurse and in a very low, stern voice said, “You need to lower your voice right now or he’s going to go into a violent rage. We need more time and you need to leave us alone because you’re stressing him out!”
To my surprise, she quietly whispered, “ok.” and walked away.
Once he was calm and the color returned back into his face, I carried him to a bed where he could lay down. This was no easy move since he’s now as tall as me. I then told all the nurses to leave us alone and I would let them know when we were ready. From there, I put his calm music into his ears and began to massage his feet and legs, coaching him how to think happy thoughts to help his mind escape the next blood draw. Several times I kissed his forehead and whipped the tears that quietly fell from his eyes, this was killing me inside.
After a short time he bravely said, “Lets get this over with.”
Thankfully we got the head nurse to take over and she drew the rest of the blood in less than a minute. Before we left, one of the original nurses apologized to both my son and I saying, “I’m so sorry, it was all my fault that you fainted, I should’ve waited until you had your music ready.”
After that, I took my boy home and told him that he didn’t have to go to school since he suffered enough stress for one day. Myself included.