Moishe had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and for some reason I was very nervous about it. Partly
because I couldn’t be there, and partly because the experience of Moishe spending 24 hours in the hospital for tests was still fresh in my mind. (Notice the bandage on the arm in the photo at left.)
Ahead of the appointment I set all sorts of boundaries with Sarah on what kinds of tests they’d be allowed to do to Moishe. I didn’t want him getting one of those 70 pin prick allergy tests, crying for an hour, and then finding out it’s ‘inconclusive’. Medical professionals never consider what they put you through to try and get answers. I can tolerate that kind of treatment for a while, but Moishe doesn’t understand the world well enough to get through something by thinking of the Queen and knowing it will be over soon.
So it was that Sarah called me and said they wanted to do a blood draw to test for an allergy, and swore it was only one draw. I was free and already on my way to pick them up, so I came in and went to the lab for the test. We played together in the waiting room while a small child screamed continuously for ten minutes in the back.
A parent wheeled that child out in a stroller and then they called us. I sat down, put Moishe on my lap, and instantly had to assert myself for him. Sarah said it was one draw. The lady pulled out her rubber tourniquet and started reading the chart and pulling tubes. "How many of those are we pulling?" She didn’t acknowledge me, so I kept asking her until she finally said, "Let me count and then I’ll tell you."
Having counted four (uh huh, just one draw) she then started to reach for Moishe’s arm and put her tourniquet on him. I all but slapped her hand away and said, "If you don’t let me do this, and explain what we’re doing, he’s going to be screaming quickly. He may scream anyway, but our only shot at minimizing this is to let me do this at my pace."
I explained to Moishe about the tourniquet, the lab tubes, the needle, and held him the entire time. He was unhappy but didn’t scream when they put on the tourniquet, when they pricked him, and through the first two test tubes full of blood. Not until the third one did he decide he was unhappy and needed to open his mouth. By the time he started to make any noise it was over. It was a very different experience from the previous child’s labs, whose screams were heard by pretty much everyone within 100 yards.
When people complain about why they hate being a patient, I think this is often what they cite. But they can speak for themselves and be respected if they are really pressed. People gloss over children’s discomfort in the healthcare system. If you don’t stand up for your kid, nobody else is watching out for them.