Monday, June 27, 2011

Blood-a-phobe




The day I posted this, I received an interesting email from Parents magazine on emotionally sensitive children. M definitely fits into that category!


I just spent about 45 minutes inside a bouncy castle. It wasn't exactly like the experience of Reese Witherspoon's character in "Four Christmases" but close enough.

At one point during the mayhem, a young boy, maybe 4 or so, fell and landed weirdly on his ankle. His mom, watching from outside the castle, thought he was hurt. His dad, who was inside the castle like me, said he was fine. (this often happens in our family, too.)

For his part, the boy just sat down for a moment, not crying, just sitting quietly and then when his mom continued to insist that he come out of the castle to get ice on his ankle, he stood up and started jumping again and said he was fine.

My kids rarely handle injuries so calmly. M, our oldest, has some real anxiety when it comes to injuries and blood. I remember prepping him for his second surgery (tubes in, adenoids out) at age 3 and watching proudly how calm until the nurse tried to put a pulse-oximeter on his finger and they called it a band-aid. Massive hysteria ensued.

Bloody knees are always disaster because we aren't allowed to put gauze, wet paper towels, or bandages on the wound. Once, when he was probably 4, I was so desparate to avoid having blood all over the house I finally convinced him to wear one of my husband's socks around his knee. Yes, a sock.

Fast-forward to age 5, at his well-child visit. The nurse cheerfully mentions they are going to "take his blood pressure" and he almost ran through the wall.

The blood phobia seems out of his control but it is somehow harder to deal with his overreaction and exaggeration. It makes it so hard to tell when he's really injured.

He fell off the  monkey bars at age 6, and held his arm bent at the elbow, tight to his side and wouldn't straighten it for the entire 4 hours we waited at the emergency room. When the doctor came in to tell us the results of the x-ray, I already knew he was fine because he was finally straightening his arm to point at things in the exam room.

This week was a sort of perfect storm of injuries.Tuesday he skidded on the playground at day camp, running to greet me, and tore up his knee and elbow. Three big cuts on his knee requiring a huge gauze pad held to his knee with no-stick "gentle" tape. I have these supplies handy because he's still really nervous about band-aids. He cried for over an hour, about a knee scrape and when he returned to camp the next day, was still crying because it hurt too bad to straighten his leg. You would think it needed amputation.

Friday afternoon, his eye started bothering him and continued for hours, I finally took him to urgent care expecting a pink eye diagnosis. But he panicked so horribly when the doctor tried to examine his eye she felt he had a corneal abrasion and recommended we see an ophthalmologist first thing Saturday. Holding him down to examine his eye required three big, kind, determined nurses. Saturday's visit to the eye doctor revealed he was absolutely fine. All that panic, screaming, physical flailing, wailing - and it was maybe an allergy or irritant.

So when we brought him home he decided to wrestle with his younger brother D and fell off the couch, knocking his head into the baby gate that surrounds our television. The resulting egg on his brow bone was large and purple for a day at least. He wailed once
Egg head.
 
but was overall calm. This one, I was sure, could've been a serious injury but he handled it completely differently than the others.

The real truth is, I have no idea how he will handle each injury when it comes along because he makes a federal case of what I think are the little ones. I don't know if it's really hurting or it's his anxiety and fear making him upset. He overreacts, and frankly, I do, too. I think each cough is pertussis, each headache a migraine, each stomachache
appendicitis. Now who's overreacting?