If you have dealt with getting a blood draw you know how it is. Plain and simple if you get the right person they can make it easy. But it can also be like playing a game of roulette. You may get someone who will bruise your vein easier or someone who can’t find veins as easy. Yes this is a pain at times. If you go regularly you may be one of the lucky ones and know someone who is great at this job.
My reason for sharing tips on this is due to the horrible experience we had when my daughter was about 1. We had just been informed by her Neurology team that they wanted to test for syndromes, specifically a rare syndrome. So we got all the referrals done with her care team and they were quickly sent off to the lab.
The test we were having done was very common in the world of genetic testing. A Microarray analysis to be exact. We needed this done in order to weed out any specific syndromes in case she was to have open heart surgery. At the time we had a handful of cardiac doctors saying yes to surgery and some saying no.
Her Neurologist was concerned with the dispute since if she did indeed need surgery we needed to know all the facts considering she already had a significant brain injury. Also some syndromes can have bad side effects with anesthesia and if that was the case we needed to know.
So I called the lab ahead of time letting them know we would be in. We came in for our appointment time and handed over the lab orders to the staff. They were so confused. They had no clue what they were doing with the orders… it actually took them a whole hour to figure out what codes to enter. Bottom line is my child was tired of waiting, so was I. By the time we got back to do a “quick” blood draw I was irritable but trying to keep calm for my daughter.
A lady swooped us into her station stating that she was really good with little people veins. I was so relieved, no one wants to get poked over and over and i didn’t want that for her at all. From that moment the “quick blood draw” turned to a nightmare. She couldn’t find a vein and did just what this mom had feared.. she poked over and over and McKinley cried harder and harder. I cried too, like major. I was pissed and livid. I don’t even remember how long I had sat there trying to let her draw for the test when I got up and said we are done and leaving.
It was crazy! Then out of nowhere a man walks in (just returning from lunch) Grabs us and poof, one and done. Thank you Savior of my childs arm, Where were you 20 mins ago!??? seriously where were you!!!
Due to this issue when my daughter was little I have learned how to deal with this better. Yes my process is time consuming but when you have a child with medical needs you need to be able to find someone who can make it easier for your family in the medical field. The same reason why we chose the PCP provider, we need to chose the best lab technicians too.
- Call ahead and talk to the lab or stop in and do this in person. I do this in person now myself. Ask them if they have someone qualified for little veins and let them know about your child and how your child will react to the blood draw. The reason to inform them before you come in is simple. They may need extra hands on deck for your child. For example my daughter needs to be on my lap while I hold her, the one lab tech holds her arms and helps the other lab tech, and the other lab tech does the draw… if my husband can make it along he is there helping hold her feet. And of course we always bring music… her trusty little portable radio.
- Make sure that you plan to come first thing if you can. Seriously I know we are all busy but making it the easiest on your little one is always better. Especially if they have sensory issues. Try to schedule when of course the lab has the staff but also when they have the slowest time for you to have less people to navigate through.
- Bring positive reinforcement for after. Yes I bring music for my little for during because this distracts her, but also think about the after. My daughter can’t verbalize her wants and needs the way she should but I know she doesn’t like needles in her arm… my goal as a parent is to make sure I can help her be comfortable during and after…
- Write down the lab technicians info and hang on to it like gold. I keep all my medical contacts in a binder. It will be so helpful in the future. I know that my little one has had many experiences with her complex needs and knowing who to call and ask for is so smooth.
- If you have a child with medical needs that can talk or understand you telling them about what you are going to do, explain to them in a story. Help your child understand what you are going to do today. Social stories are amazing in helping kids on the spectrum prosper at what you want them to do.
- Last is remain calm. Your children will always feed off of you. Yes this is a fact for ALL parents. Keep your shit together, it will in turn help your little one be brave, be calm and make it easier.