Hadley had a check-up with the Endocrinologist at the beginning of December. A week prior to her appointment, I took her to the outpatient lab at the hospital for a blood draw, as usual. Her appointments are still at 3-month intervals so she's having blood drawn at least that frequently. Every so often she starts having "symptoms" (whatever that means) and we are told to get labs drawn sooner than the 3-month mark. If you've been a reader of the blog for a while, you may recall that we had a breakthrough earlier in the year. Hadley seemed to come to terms with the whole process. Albeit reluctantly, she's been offering her arm with little to no coaxing and only whimpering at a moderate volume while being poked with a needle.
Well. That's all changed. Now that nearly 2 months have passed since we met Stacy (I've changed her real name), I can finally finish writing this entry without overflowing with anger and frustration. I've really had to work through this one. It's easy to say that mothers are protective of their children, but this is more than that. This is about being an advocate for all children. This is about expecting and receiving competent, quality care for my child. This is about a child who deserves professional care from people with a specialized skill set. One that involves treating children like the perfect tiny humans that they are, not like an animal that needs to be contained. Maybe I'm still a little angry.
I brought Hadley to the hospital for her December labs and checked her in. As in recent visits, Hadley was happy to be there. There's a beautiful, well-designed waiting area for children that makes a parent's life much easier when there's a long line of patients waiting to be seen. I had hoped to see the lab tech Kelly (I changed her name too) call Hadley back, but she must have been gone for the day. When it was our turn, Stacy called her back. There are two areas, separated by a half wall, where blood draws can take place. The first area has an exam table where patients can lay down. The other area is a more traditional lab chair where you sit down and the hinged armrest comes down in front of you. Kelly always takes us to the table area. Stacy ushered us into the chair area.
This is the point when things started happening quickly but it may take me a minute to explain it all, so please bear with me. Stacy told me to sit with Hadley in my lap. She immediately pulled the armrest down in front of both of us. Stacy's helper Shelly (not her real name either) showed up out of nowhere and they simultaneously reached down to hold Hadley still. At this point, I don't even have her coat completely off, but they didn't seem to notice. They both grabbed her exposed arm while I continued to wrestle with the coat. As you can imagine, Hadley was absolutely hysterical within seconds. Stacy and Shelly proceeded as though this is the norm. Stacy tied the rubber tourniquet around Hadley's arm. That's when the ear-piercing screaming started. Hadley was sweating and beet red, while I was trying to wrap my head around what had happened over the past 10 seconds since we sat down. Stacy continued on, and cheerfully said, "Here comes the freezy spray!"
Put yourself in Hadley's shoes for a minute. Be (almost) 3 years old and picture yourself happily playing with toys in magical playroom. Picture yourself being carried by your mom and sitting in a chair, in her lap, with your back to her. Now picture yourself watching two grown women come towards you from a standing position. Thirty seconds ago you were playing and now 4 hands are restraining you and you can't see your mom. Picture these 2 strangers and their smiling faces inches away from your own face saying words like "freezy spray."
I put my hand up in front of Stacy and Shelly's faces and to them to "stop." I released the tourniquet from Hadley's arm and said "stop" again. Shelly seemed startled, Stacy appeared annoyed. She sat on a rolling stool and put her elbow up on the counter as if she was bored. I calmly but firmly told them both that she does just fine with blood draws, when she's approached differently. I told them that she normally gives her arm willingly and asked them to give us just a minute so Hadley could calm down.
I tried my best to get Hadley to stop crying (screaming) but she was too far gone. I made a decision at that moment to allow Stacy and Shelly to proceed. This was already a disaster, we may as well get blood out of it? The blood draw went as you can imagine--screaming, fighting, restraining, crying. Shelly disappeared as soon as she was no longer needed. I left without thanking Stacy.
I always get a survey after our visits to the hospital in my email, and I always fill them out honestly. I've never had a negative word to say, until now. I filled out my survey from this visit truthfully while trying to remain as objective as possible. (See below.) Please continue reading and feel free to weigh in on the situation. Let me know your thoughts on how I handled the situation that day as well as in the survey. I have come to find so much comfort from this blog and from hearing from readers, no matter your opinion. I so appreciate your comments and private messages. Each person who has reached out has been helpful, even when he/she is the one asking for help. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
[Patient Survey Response: "Stacy was very kind to my child, but her approach was completely inappropriate." *I described the scenario in less detail than above.* "In the past, other lab tech's have had a much slower and child-sensitive approach. She will have her blood drawn at frequent intervals for her entire life and it is extremely important to me that this is not a traumatic experience for her. I hope that Stacy is given the opportunity to improve her skills and technique with small children in the future."]