Wednesday, May 19, 2010


When a four year old has to have blood drawn it’s a big deal.  Even though Jenna has had more pokes in the past two years than a hundred non-diabetic adults combined (and I strongly suspect that is a gross underestimation), she still becomes anxious at the idea of having blood drawn.     
Recently Jenna had a routine appointment with our new pediatrician, Dr. M.  It went well, I guess.  He seems like a nice guy.  He certainly worked hard to make my girls laugh and impress upon me his rapport with children.  And he didn’t make any inappropriate references to Jenna’s weight or any ignorant assumptions about the diet I provide her.  Smart.  
Dr. M wrapped up the appointment by discussing the required, routine annual blood work that needs to be drawn on Jenna.  He stated he would write up a requisition and fax it to the lab of my choice.   I told him the lab we like to go to for all our phlebotomical needs (no, that’s likely not a real word) and he assured me the requisition would be there awaiting our arrival.  This isn’t the process I am used to when lab work needs to be done.  I’ve always been given a requisition at the appointment then taken it to the lab myself.  But I figured it was the way this doctor liked to do things.  Who am I to question it?
Almost a week later, on a Thursday,  a day I decided would be the least busy day to tackle this daunting task, I decided to take her in to have it done.  I had prepared Jenna the previous day for what to expect by casually telling her we would get her blood work done the next morning.  I thought a casual, "Oh yeah, by the way..."  approach would help keep Jenna calm.  I refreshed her memory, referencing the previous year’s blood work experience and  the Emla I would apply to help make the procedure ouch-free.  She seemed relatively unphased by our brief chat.
The next morning after the girls ate breakfast, got dressed, brushed teeth and hair, etc., I applied the Emla.  Jenna still seemed unconcerned.  An hour later we were off. 
We arrived at the lab and I approached the reception desk to give Jenna’s name so that her previously faxed lab requisition could be located.  But the woman at the desk would have none of my unorthodox “standing-in-line”, “name-giving” ways and curtly told me to take a number and have a seat.  
A number.  There were all of five people present in the tiny waiting room.  But the impersonal number system was to be strictly adhered to, nevertheless.  This set the tone for the next hour that we were at the lab.  That’s right - one whole hour to have blood drawn on a four year old that should only take five minutes. 
A few minutes later the woman at the desk called my number.  No one else had been called before me and I sat, literally, no more than three feet from her.  As I approached the desk the thought crossed my mind to ball up the numbered slip of paper and flick it at her.  Not that I would, but it was mildly satisfying to envision it.  I explained that my daughter’s pediatrician had faxed a requisition for lab work.  She reached for a stack of requisitions and began thumbing through looking for Jenna’s name.  
Again she sifted through the stack of papers and again turned up nothing.
My heart sank at the thought of having to go through the whole procedure all over again another day.  It wouldn’t be fair to Jenna.  Heck, it wouldn’t be fair to me!  I was doing my best to hide a truck load of anxiety related to how Jenna would fare while her vein was being tapped.  Every other previous blood draw has been an upsetting experience for Jenna.  I might not be able to convince her to be such a willing participant on another day.  So I decided at that moment that come hell or high water, this blood work was going to be drawn today and I was going to make it happen.
I explained our situation and made it clear that postponement was really not an option.  So she handed me the phone number of Dr. M’s office on another blasted little piece of paper and wished me luck.
I spent the next forty minutes or so on my cell phone making calls to his office as well as to our Diabetes Nurse Educator, leaving desperate voice mail messages and talking to medical office personnel - pleading for their help, then waiting for return calls and good news.  
During this time my girls kept themselves entertained with an assortment of story books and colouring books I, thankfully, had had the foresight to pack.   

Finally the fax machine hummed to life and a requisition materialized with Jenna’s name on it.  Dr. M had come through.  Right then I forgave him his forgetfulness where only moments before I was composing my “You Dropped The Ball HUGE, Doc” speech.   Actually, I was pretty impressed.  Obviously he had forgotten.  But I was also told by his staff that he wasn’t in the office that day.  So he must have given his staff a phone order on his own time.  That’s pretty cool.    
Jenna was calm right up until the tourniquet was applied at which point her anxiety came rushing to the surface and she began to cry.  I held her on my lap and restrained her little arm while the skilled lab tech got the job done quickly and efficiently.  Unfortunately Jazmine became upset not long after Jenna did.  I found myself in the torturous position of having to keep focused on Jenna to attend to the task at hand while Jazmine had to go without comforting.  Sometimes Mommies just don’t have enough arms.  
After it was over the lab tech handed Jenna two stickers and we all agreed that she was one very brave little girl.  Jenna, still weeping, disagreed with us saying that she wasn’t brave because she cried.  I told her even brave people cry and that she is, in fact, one of the bravest people I know.  She accepted her bravery stickers then wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big hug.
I sure wish she didn’t have to be so brave.


Steven Lee said...

This is one of Lia's biggest fears. She hates that tourniquet most of all. I hate it for her, too.

Glad it worked out for Jenna. Good for you in sticking it out for her (no pun intended). She is a very, very brave little girl. You all are.

BTW... love the image of flicking the little number slip at the receptionist. Spot-on sentiment.

Anonymous said...

You handled that well.

This stuff drives me nuts. Yes I realize I am very self involved when it comes to this stuff, but when you bend over backwards to plan every little step out - to make sure all the things you need to do in your normal, hectic day of caring for your kids fits into a blood draw day, when you've done your homework and are prepared and have asked every question you can think of and have left no rock unturned, just to have the doctor FORGET TO SEND OVER THE INSTRUCTIONS!!! I'm sweating just thinking about it.
These are kids. They go through enough. They deserve a little more sensitivity when it comes to things like this. I'm glad it all worked out and it sounds like she totally rocked it!

prudie said...

I love reading your blog. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 2 years old and am now 35. Your blog renews my amazement of what my mother went through for me. I've always recognized the emotional strength and fortitude she needed to deal with my condition but you bring it to the forefront again for me.
You are a fantastic mommy! Thank you for sharing!!