Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shots! Kids at the Doctor's Office

As far as medical stuff goes, I come from a family of well known wimps. I still remember visiting the the local hospital two months before I was about to choose Medicine as my Major in college. That trip lasted one hour during which I bumped into a bunch of dried, bangle-bearing post-autopsy hands and then froze in line when asked to appreciate some malformed foetus' in funny smelling jars. I chose Computer Science.

We are gonna die!
Youngling deals with impending doom
Years earlier, I once had to get some cyst removed from my eyelid. The doctor plunged a needle into my eye, flipped up my eyelid and started scraping. Mum was nearby.

After a while the doctor said - barely looking up - "Take care of him!"

"I am holding his hand" my Mum responded, squeezing my palm.

"No" the doctor nodded "I'm talking about your husband!"

Mum and I looked up. Dad was standing at the back of the room, reeling at the sight of the minor procedure. He had to leave the room - we found him later seated in the waiting area, his knuckles white from holding on to the armrests of his chair.

This same wimpiness has been passed on to the rest of the boys. We'll make more fun of me some other day. For now, let's talk about the Drift scions - Motorsandal, 10 and Youngling, 7.

Once Youngling had a pretty traumatic accident - he had a clean fracture of his tibia. It was on a Sunday and I displayed the bad judgement of taking him to a 24 hour care center. They put his leg in a ridiculous temporary cast with instructions to visit the orthopedic doctor the next day. I recruited Motorsandal who skipped school the following morning and kept a much drugged Youngling in good cheer in the back of the van while I drove them both to the doctor.

When Youngling's cast was to be replaced with a more permanent one, two doctors showed up. As soon as they touched his foot, Youngling began screaming.


This wasn't just once. It was like someone's favorite playlist on a loop. You could sense the alarm in the patients nearby and the panic that coursed through the attending doctors as Youngling's screams tore through the facility. Much to everyone's amusement, one doctor started flipping the lights on and off in the office to distract Youngling. "Look!" he kept saying "Your cast glows in the dark!"

Later when we were done and I carried Youngling out, I noted that the previously overcrowded waiting room had emptied out.

Perhaps, you might argue, my sons are scared of severe pain. Fair enough. But that still doesn't explain why Motorsandal once knifed himself under a table and refused to come out during a visit. For a flu shot.

When our kids were born, like any new parents we made a bunch of pacts about how well we'd treat our kids. Some we broke. Some we stuck to. One of those that remained unadulterated was that we'd always give our kids a heads up whenever something unpleasant might be scheduled. This applies to vaccinations and blood tests - or like the kids call them: "SHOTS".

Just recently we gave the boys days of advance notice about three shots scheduled for an upcoming wellness visit. One was a blood test - a prick on a finger. Another was a TB test - a scrape on the forearm. A third was a booster for tetanus - a shot in the bicep.

The Drift Memsaab tried to talk to the kids about pain and preparation. She talked about short term pain for long term benefits. She discussed relaxation techniques. She used personal touch to reduce anxiety. She tried to bribe them with candy.

I tried to take the edge off with some advice. "Remember when I once told you to deal with stage fright by picturing the audience in their underwear?" I said helpfully. "Well, picture the nurse in her underwear when she comes in to give you your shots" This might not have been the best parental advice to give, but hindsight is 20-20.

The kids were allowed to pick their comfort food when they entered the office. They picked sodas.

The nurse ordered them to wait in their underwear - a practice that I find particularly humilating and one that I've discovered adds an extra layer of vulnerability just when you need it least. We fussed over the boys - because we like doing that. Once the doctor had examined them, the boys were at least able to dress themselves up.

Then the nurse came in with a tray of needles, Youngling buried his face in the Drift Memsaab's scarf and said "We're gonna die!"

"Heavens!" exclaimed the nurse. "You're not going to die!"

Shots were administered. The boys clung on to me for dear life. The Drift Memsaab gave them massages. Youngling let the nurse know indignantly that each shot hurt him a lot.

The nurse left the room with a smile on her lips and a roll of the eyes.


Sujatha Bagal said...

The image of your white-knuckled dad was funny! That would be the husband in our household - cannot stand the sight of needles. :)

musical said...

Awwww, i can totally identify with Motorsandal and Youngling. As a kid i had a mortal fear of injections and cough-syrups!! What spoilt me more was that my doctors (Mom and Dad) usually would HAVE to listen to me ;).

Another Kiran In NYC said...

poor babies... shots are never fun.
Our paediatrician is perhaps the best shot giver in the whole world. she has the kids blow bubbles, and just as they exhale to blow the bubble she gives them the shot real fast. Most times they dont even realise until its over! Works every time.

aa said...

"That trip lasted one hour during which I bumped into a bunch of dried, bangle-bearing post-autopsy hands"

Oh My God! I can't believe someone else this bumbing into a bowl-full-of-disembodied-hands experience too. This happened to me and I was literally shaking from the trauma for two weeks. That was the end of my "medical career" as well.

Anonymous said...

Haha, Aspi, this is so much drama :o)) OMG, I can't believe this. is this only for the shots or do you have to go thru this for regular docs visits too?
Couple of suggestions: I do agree on keeping the fathers/husbands out of the room. When I was expecting the doc suggested, one patient is enough, the other should stay at home. This was to implicate the dad should be home and safe and let the other patient also be safe.
As for the kids, have you ever tried, telling them hey its gonna hurt you but it will make you better, so you have no choice but to go thru this. With my kids the crying gets less, they just wait for the requested treat at the end..

meganomaniac said...

haha aspi your kids would turn into emo boys.. you need to be careful here...

i used to look forward to getting jabbed as a kid, i was never scared of needles.. one time the nurse was like "you're one of the few kids who actually watches the needle going in with a huge smile".. i have always been a weird cookie..

Unknown said...

Now that is demented and weird in a really good way.

Pitu said...

Awwwwww poor bebehs!! I shall have to feed them many many cupcakes, I see!