Friday, June 22, 2012

Blood Draws: The Aftermath

Youngest daughter outside the clinic after her blood draw and Angry Birds reward sticker.

It had to be done.

No escaping, forgetting, misplacing the script or just plain avoiding it.

Today was blood draw day.

Youngest daughter had an increase in her Levothyroxin dose (for Hashimotos Disease, Autoimmune Hypothyroid) and the guaranteed result is a follow-up blood draw to make sure her T3 and T4 levels were behaving.  You can read about that diagnosis here.

We changed her dose at the end of April, with instructions to check in 6-8 weeks to ensure the levels were correct.

That day came and went with a justification that we have been busy and a "gut" feeling that youngest daughter's levels are correct.  After all, she has no leg pain - her number one symptom when her Levothyroxin needs change.

After a discussion with a fellow D-mom who announced she was also taking her son, I felt that special camaraderie (Or was that guilt!) that says, "hmmmm, I guess we should be doing that too."

Because even though I am not the one who is getting the poke, I know how much anxiety that causes the certain Naturally Sweet Sister who would be.

Which breaks my heart.

I dislike that this sweet little girl has to go through this so often.

While I am happy that we are keeping her feeling great - no more leg pains! - I also hate that I have to see her struggle with the worry, fear and pain that a single blood draw causes.


It stinks.

And I know we are not alone in feeling this way.  As moms, we all want to shelter our kids from yet again, another life sting. 

This is the part that just isn't fair (and I rarely will ever say this because I know LIFE ISN'T FAIR!) but having your kids go through so many procedures day in and day out, really is heartbreaking.  Blood draws rank right up there with starting an IV line.  No kid wants to have this done.  And certainly, no parent wants to put them through it.

So what do I do to help make it easier?

Well, I find that honesty truly does help.  I tried once to spring it on youngest daughter and didn't say a word until we were pulling into the parking lot.  Not a good idea.  Her anxiety was intense because she felt betrayed and feared that it would be especially painful since I hid it. 

I have also tried pretending that it didn't hurt and asking for her to pretend that it didn't either.  But it did and sobs came even louder when that needle sting occurred.

One day, I sat with her and asked what she like most and what she liked least and came to this.... here are the five things that youngest daughter says helps her with the dreaded blood draws.

1.)  Tell her at least one day in advance.

2.)  Be honest.  If you know the clinic needs five vials of blood for a comprehensive visit, tell her.  It is better to know that it might take an extra minute in the chair.

3.)  The most painful part for youngest daughter is not the needle insertion, it is the release of the butterfly clip.  We now ask the techs to release it slowly and not with a quick snap.

The butterfly clip is the blue part directly behind the needle, nearest to the skin. Slow release helps to hurt less.

4.)  Give her a focus.  For youngest daughter, she needs something to squeeze with her other hand as it allows her to channel her fear into something.  Sometimes, if a beloved stuffed animal or a stress ball isn't available, just holding mom's hand is perfect! 

5.)  Let her look at the needle insertion and watch the blood draw process.  In the beginning, she would close her eyes and not know what was happening, causing greater anxiety to herself.  Witnessing the blood draw process helps to know the steps and provides greater mental control for her.  It also helps to have the tech talk through each step or even count down the time remaining. 

It isn't ever going to be fun to go to a blood draw but I do try to schedule something fun afterward.  Today landed us at a skate park and the chance to run around the sprinklers of a fire truck. 

Photo: So much fun!

Watching her giggle helped remind me (and her) that no matter how crappy blood draws are, she is still living a wonderful childhood, even with a few extra pokes. 


NikDuck said...

The blood draws are a dreaded thing in our house too! I too hate that they have to go through so much. We just got through ours last month and posted about this very issue on my blog. So glad it is over.

Naturally Sweet Sisters said...

It does stink and no matter how many pokes our kids get, they will never be able to "get used to it"! Seriously, who could? Glad to see that you were able to make the most of it and that your Naturally Sweet was able to get back to the business of fun too. Huge Hugs Nik! We are all in this together:)

Anonymous said...

Fun to read your posts- I like your occupation... Have been doing it myself for 7 years.

Naturally Sweet Sisters said...

Hi there fellow Artificial Pancreas! Thanks for reading the blog! Love meeting new "co-workers"!