Saturday, March 14, 2009

Red badge of courage

If Jonas were ever to pursue an Eagle badge, I don't know if he'll even be interested in Boy Scouts, (I was never allowed in the Girl Scouts... they didn't teach enough "life skills" in my parents' estimation. Somehow 4-H made the grade, though.), but anyway, if he did, he certainly earned his first merit badge today.

In New York, at 12 months babies are supposed to be tested for lead. We certainly hope, and would expect, that Jonas' levels are negligible, but we thought it was worth getting him tested. Today was the dreaded blood test day.

I had called the lab last week to ask whether they had someone who was good with kids. They advised coming in on Sat. Somehow I was relieved that it'd be on a Saturday. I'd have less to worry about, I convinced myself. However, once I got up this morning and started getting ready to go, I don't think I was any less relieved.

We all three went to the lab. Jonas took in the crew of characters in the waiting room, charmed by their newness, and was blissfully ignorant of what awaited him. Joe was calm, playing with his smart phone, and tried to keep up the appearance that this whole thing "just wasn't a big deal". Notice, I said, "tried to". I believe that secretly he was just as unsure of this as I was, but that he thought he had to maintain composure. I was a wreck inside. I sat beside Joe and Jonas and spaced out. I kept re-assuring myself that these people 'knew what they're doing', and that it's better to know than not know, that this is 1 minute of his life that he won't remember anyway, and that some kids have it a lot worse. None of it calmed my hyper nerves.

They called Jonas' name. We went back to little room #4. The phlebotomist told Joe to sit down and hold Jonas around the waist with one arm and Jonas' left arm from underneath so that he didn't move it. I looked on barely able to contain my "helpful suggestions". For example, perhaps it'd be better if we immobilized Jonas. If only the guy could know just how Jonas forcefully writhes about during his diaper changes! And that doesn't involve any needle pricking!

Jonas' wide eyes danced as they scanned every surface in the little room. I saw a glimmer in his eye when he spied the assorted, brightly colored vials. Meanwhile, I tried to stay out of the way, but close-by, practically tripping over the phlebotomist. I was nearly paralyzed with dread as my stomach lurched into my throat. I hoped that Joe could control Jonas. I hoped this guy could work fast and painlessly. I anticipated the scream of surprise and a stream of plaintive cries.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Jonas watched the guy flicking his arm trying to get a vein to surface. No luck. Ok, other arm. I released a huge exhale. "Ok, brace yourself, Liz. It's all for the best... blah, blah, blah..." The look on Jonas' face had turned to amusement. Who is this guy? What the heck is he doing with that white rubber band to my arm? Look at all those colors! I'd like to sort out all those test tubes. First, I'd move them to all the empty squares, then I'd group them by color...

I braced myself again, holding my breath. Nothing. No vein, again. He ran to get a finger stick. That was better than the big needle I rationalized. Still, what if he pulls his finger away? When I got my finger pricked last, the nurse slipped and made a long slice. CLICK! No screams. I looked at Jonas. I felt ill. But he looked no more troubled that if someone were putting on his shoe. The guy squeezed and squeezed his finger, and Jonas did nothing but watched and occasionally looked around.

"Ok, that's it," he said, ten seconds later. "If it doesn't come back right, we'll have to do an actual venipuncture."That's it? Oh, thank God! I grabbed our bag and we got the 'hell outta Dodge'.

As we walked back to the car, I felt immensely relieved, but also a little silly. I had been dreading, and thus, putting this off, for weeks. Jonas sailed through with flying colors. His parents, well, not so much. If you ask me, I think Jonas deserves the red badge of courage. We get the booby prize.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Liz...we laughed like hell at this one! Keep 'em coming. I'm so glad that it all worked out well. I'll be sending a red badge... Love Mom and Aj