The dread surfaced almost a month ago, when the orders first crossed the doctor’s desk. “I don’t want to do that, mommy.” With those words, the long process of talking my daugher down from the ledge began.
“Remember last time…the new lab we went to? The lady was really good, right?”
“I’ll take you to lunch again afterwards. Anywhere you want! Where should we go?”
We then avoided the topic at all costs until the day before the appointment.
“Tomorrow’s your lab work. Where are we going for lunch?”
“I don’t want to go.” Her face got red. She pulled herself together. “Maybe the diner.”
The next day we arrived at the lab. They took us right in, which seemed encouraging. I’d run out of responses to “I don’t want to do this,” “I don’t like it,” and “Why do I have to do this?” The only way to end her increasing anxiety was to get this over with.
“Hello sweetie,” said the lab tech in a sing-song voice. “My name is (we’ll just call her Ms. Sunshine here). How are YOU today?“ "Fine." "Oh, that's wonderful!"
"Now, sweetie, don’t be scared by that little boy yelling. This isn’t going to hurt more than a little teeny-tiny pinch. Like this..." And she pinched my daughter's hand. My child's face became increasingly red. Tears were welling up. I was wishing Ms. Sunshine would just grab the needle and get this whole thing over with. “Oh sweetie…don’t be upset. Let me give you a hug.” And she did. Really. Then she left the cubicle to get a needle.
“What do you think of her?” I asked. “I think she’s a little crazy.” Confidence had not been inspired.
“O.K., now, sweetie-pie. I have to tell the computer here what I’m going to do next. Can you tell me your whole name, and your birthday?” She obliged. “See here…that’s you, right there. It says here I have to take one tube of blood. Can you tell me what color the lid is in the picture?” “Red?” “YES…that’s right! Now let me get one of those red lidded tubes. See? They’re right over here!”
On and on Ms. Sunshine went, slowly yet cheerfully describing every gory detail of the process and repeatedly stating that it wouldn’t hurt at all. Finally she insisted that my daughter sit in my lap (“Mommy will hug you and you’ll feel so happy”), and the process officially began. It was over very quickly. She was actually fabulous at finding a vein, and before we knew it, my daughter’s mantra of “I don’t like this I don’t want to do this” was over.
“There, sweetie. That wasn’t so bad, was it? And probably you won’t have to do that again for a very, very long time, maybe not until you go to college.” Big smile.
We had let the “this won’t hurt a bit” fallacy slide, but I had to take this one on. “Unfortunately, Ms. Sunshine,” I said, “bloodwork is a part of her life and she has to do it often. She knows it’s no picnic, but that it’s necessary for her health. Thank you for getting the blood so easily today. She’s always very nervous until it’s over with.”
“Well, “ she said to my daughter, “ you were the best patient I’ve had all day. So brave! Here...you can have these! Happy St. Patrick's Day!" And thanks to Ms. Sunshine, we now have a lifetime supply of Garfield band aids.