Friday, March 16, 2012

Today's Medical Experience


Today was Blood Test/Hep-lock Day. I did NOT tell Jie Jie last night because I didn't want her to worry about it and have another episode. I did tell her in the car when we arrived. She made an appropriate 8 yr. old girl groan, and that's all.

Remember, I was taking her up to the Pediatric Sub-specialty Floor where a former PICU nurse that Jie Jie likes and calls her friend, was going to do the stick. We entered a treatment room that was quite high tech. I was surprised since I didn't realized that they have such rooms in the building we were in, but then something suddenly clicked and I realized that this is where kids go for things like infusions, suture removal, and other medical things that are too minor for hospitalization, but can be anything from minor to quite serious.

So they started looking for a vein and then tried getting Jie Jie involved in a game on a cell phone. I don't have a cell phone and I don't have video games for Jie Jie so it's very exciting, but she's not skilled at using the touch screen so it didn't engross her. It quickly became obvious that it was too overwhelming to her so I took the game away and tried singing and talking to her. However, the needle came into view and the tears started. Then she pulled her arm away. I started talking to her again and the nurse was still aiming with the needle, making Jie Jie not able to focus on me. I asked the nurse to wait. She paused, but didn't move the needle away. I get the feeling she was prepared to stick Jie Jie the moment I distracted her. I said, "Wait," again in a firmer voice and nothing happened. Now I felt the stirrings of anxiety in me, like my daughter and I were about to be railroaded, so I repeated myself if a VERY firm and slightly raised voice, "WAIT!" The nurse backed off and then I was fine.

I made Jie Jie look directly into my eyes and I said, "This is going to be done. You can keep your arm still by yourself or we can hold it for you. You have until I count to ten to get ready." I then counted to ten rather quickly and Jie Jie's arm came out on her own, the nurse re-applied the band and Jie Jie cried and said, "Owe, owe," but it was over very fast and the nurse did a GREAT job. They also used numbing spray twice, once when they thought it was a go to stick and again right before the real stick came.

They gave Jie Jie princess stickers and told us both how well we did. I could tell the nurse meant it when she said, "Good job, Mom." I know she liked how I didn't add to Jie Jie's fear and was firm, but still advocating and doing what was best for my daughter. I think that she would have completely waited on my first request if she'd known how I was.

I should mention that I did talk to Jie Jie several times well ahead of this blood draw, but didn't mention it again after her rough two nights. I also didn't practice with her on her doll and I think I should have because, in hindsight, I realize that 7 months from the last draw and 5 from the last IV is too long for her to remember.

Due to Jie Jie's congenital condition, she will have to be under a physician's care all of her life. I'd like her to become comfortable with needles and tests and learn to advocate for herself and know that she has that right. While I am sympathetic completely dying inside that my child has to endure this, I try to be as matter-of-fact as possible. I don't mince words. I pinch the crook of her arm hard enough to demonstrate to her the amount of sting she will experience. I tell her that it's okay and normal to be scared and that she can be scared and brave at the same time. I tell her that she was very brave, to which she comments that she did cry. I respond that crying it okay, that it's normal, and that she is still brave. I also tell her that other children are just like her. I think it will help her a lot to see other children around her in the clinics, and hospital, going through the same things she does.

Later, at the end of the day, I told her how proud I am of her and how strong she is, to which she replied, "Yes!" We had a celebratory dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant, too.

So, on the technical side...

She laid still in the MRI for nearly 2 HOURS without sedation and taking only three wriggle breaks of about 1 minutes each, while still in the machine. She had a brain and abdominal scan. She did not require contrast, so we never used the IV port. Get this, I removed it myself! The tech recognized that I had some skill and even asked if I worked there. LOL! The tech started to removed it, but he wasn't able to get the edges of the tape up. He could have asked the nurse, but Jie Jie asked me to do it, so I did. I know this is very rare. I also ended up with three pillows and a cushion while I laid on the MRI table. I couldn't stand leaning sideways that long and I couldn't reach her hands to hold them otherwise. It turned out great because I was able to hold her nose closed for her when she had to hold her breath, and I was able to stroke her head, which evened out her breathing. I LOVED being able to lie down and relax and I totally loved the feeling of the vibrations of the machine up and down my entire body. I'm one that loves the vibration of music when I'm in the car. I feel like I'm getting foot massage! As we entered the MRI place, a friend and her little son from church were just coming out. It was interesting how a sense of camaraderie came over me and how normal it made everything feel.

I really want to take pictures of what we are doing, mostly for Jie Jie's sake, but I didn't remember to bring the camera again! I'll try when we go to PT next Tuesday.

My fantastic employee and friend, actually showed up for work today barely holding it together because her 14 year-old daughter had been hospitalized during the night with a ruptured appendix. She knew how crucial today's tests were for Jie Jie and knew her daughter was safe and dopey, but to me it was a courageous and generous service and blessing to me and I don't honestly know if I'd have had it in me to do the same! This is a true friend!!!

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