The Blood Test

Image courtesy Piyachok Thawornmat (sourced from www.freedigitalphotos.net)

Today was a rather traumatic day for both myself and Matilda Bear. She has needed to have blood tests taken for some time now and after one failed attempt which ended rather badly (i.e. no vein found, no blood taken, life-long phobia of blood tests a result) I was rather hesitant to push for another try.

But today was our last opportunity to do it while my husband was at home to help with the other kids. So this morning I found myself up at the hospital at 8am with a nervous girl and an anxious heart. I really wanted things to be different this time, for the test to be complete so it no longer hung over our heads.

We waited about 15 minutes before her name was called. Her demeanour instantly changed. One minute she was happily showing me some colouring in drawings of characters from “Cars”, the next, she was shrinking beside me, shaking in fear.

Yet, she walked into the room with me and smiled at the blood collector, (I’m really not sure what they are called, that seems to cover their role, doesn’t it?) and they had a quick chat about butterflies. She didn’t want to get onto the chair with me but we coaxed her anyway and she let Renae, the blood collector (for want of a better description) feel her arm for a vein.

This was when it started to go pear shaped – she then crossed her arms and refused to let us near her. We tried gently encouraging her to put her arm out for us, moved onto to bribing her with McDonalds for breakfast and finally, resorted to pleading with her to cooperate. She wouldn’t budge.

It was clear by this stage that we would have to use force. Matilda was beginning to get quite upset at our repeated attempts to get her to cooperate and I knew deep down that all the rational arguments in the world would mean nothing to a 5 year old terribly scared at the very thought of a needle.

A third person was called in and the 15 minutes that followed were probably the most personally upsetting and traumatic of my life. Matilda, understandably, had a meltdown. They had trouble finding a vein, finally finding one only to have it dry up before they were done. The decision was made to try the other arm but despite several attempts a suitable vein could not be found.

Matilda was inconsolable by this stage, whimpering and asking for me to make it stop. I was a mess as well, crying as hard as she was, hating every second of having to hold her down with my arms and legs to keep her still. I knew we had to do it, I knew it was for the best, but at that moment all I wanted to do was run away and protect her from the pain and her fear.

Instead, I asked them whether they had enough blood to go on with – I knew they really didn’t – but they tried to make us feel better by saying that what they had would do. They then wrote on her form for the pathologists “bad connection”. I think that must be code for “there is no way on God’s Earth that they would have another try at getting blood from this child”.

At least it was over, for now.

After sharing wet and salty cuddles and the gift of a lollipop (yes it was early morning but I was willing to do anything to take the fear from her eyes) we were finally able to leave the pathology centre, nearly an hour after first arriving. Matilda looked as exhausted as I felt and I spent the whole time walking back to the car silently praying that they had enough blood to properly test and that we wouldn’t need to go back again.

I’m pretty sure she will have to be sedated if we were to try this again – I’m fiercely hoping that we will not have to resort to that measure but I literally don’t know how else I could approach another attempt at this.

Do you have any tips for helping kids through medical procedures? Do you remain calm and collected in the face of their pain or do you fall into a heap like me?

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8 Responses

  1. LizC says:

    My heart broke reading that. Poor you, poor Matilda. I can’t offer any helpful suggestions…Michael’s pathology request paperwork is sitting on the kitchen bench still because I haven’t been able to face taking him. You are a strong woman. Well done for getting through it.

    • Kirsty says:

      Liz, i was probably more anxious than she was in some ways as I didn’t want to feel the helplessness and frustration we went through the first time. I will definitely be getting Nathan to take her in future – I don’t think I can go through that again. Fingers crossed they did get enough and we get the all clear for diabetes and Coeliac and thyroid and all the other things they were testing for… I hope you can get your son’s tests done soon, but I totally understand why you’re not rushing into it!

  2. Marita says:

    We’ve done blood tests a few times with my girls now, I blogged about what we did that worked for us: http://www.stuffwiththing.com/2010/09/time-machine-children-and-blood-tests-blood-draws/

    Most important tip was to go to local hospital pathology clinic and request they use an IV line needle to get the blood as those needles are smaller and less painful.
    Marita recently posted..Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze… and a huge Lion King 3D Giveaway

    • Kirsty says:

      Great post Marita – thanks so much for sharing it. Can you get Emla cream at the chemist? And do you put it on as you’re leaving home?

      I tried another clinic of this pathology service a few months back going on a Saturday morning. The woman wasn’t keen on doing it as she was alone but she tried anyway and made a real mess of it (seems Matilda’s left arm is esp. hard to find a useable vein). This time I decided to go to the hospital on a weekday to ensure we wouldn’t have the same issues but didn’t think to ask for an IV line needle, and they didn’t offer. I will know better next time (when I make my husband take her instead!) thanks again for sharing your experiences, fingers crossed we will do better next time!

  3. Oh Kirsty…. My heart goes out to you. My 18mth old daughter just had to have tests…. FIVE tubes! I have no comments or tips to help you, well because I was a completely horrible mummy… And made daddy take her to the hospital. Terrible bruise on her arm for days after was a constant reminder what we had to put her through. Heartbreaking. My son will have bloods in February, just after his 3rd birthday. I’m not sure if older or younger is worse…. He will have far more strength and understanding than his little sister, I’m nervous already…. 🙁
    Carly @ My Life in Colour recently posted..Photography Tutorial {EXPOSURE – PART I}

    • Kirsty says:

      Carly, Matilda was supposed to have 4 or 5 vials taken as well – they got to 2 and a bit before they could get no more. Hoping they have enough to test the important things (diabetes, Coeliac, thyroid, blood count). I don’t want to go back again! I will be making my husband take her next time and will be trying some other tips like using Emla cream to numb the site and asking for an IV line (thanks to Marita for this tips!) i have a feeling though that all my bears will be needing blood tests in the future given the crappy genes tha run through our families!!! Hoping Litte Tiger’s tests come back with the all clear for you.

      • Carly Webber says:

        LOL possible crappy genes here too 😕
        Tests so far all clear – there is one test left that takes 4-6 mths for results to be processed! Sounds crazy but apparently its a detailed chromosome test and there’s only one place in Aus that does ALL the country’s analysis. Odd. Frustrating.
        Hope her 2 vials were enough and the test results are good too! x
        Carly Webber recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Pretty in Pink

        • Kirsty says:

          Heard today that the 2 vials were enough. She was cleared of diabetes, Coeliac and thyroid disease but apparently has a pre-disposition to allergies and hay fever, eczema and asthma. The irony of this? She is the only one of my kids not to have eczema or asthma like colds…weird… Hoping that crazily long wait for that last test result is another all-clear for you too!

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