The stained glass through which I often write in order to color my more intense stories or emotions with humor or sarcasm is cracking under the steam of my anger at the moment. So, today you get the real raw and unedited.
I am pecking at my keys with ferocity so intense I just may need a new computer before this entry is complete. If you would rather go about your day, free from the poison of my rant, you are excused. However, I am honestly begging for thoughts on this.
We were kindly notified by the previous occupants of this home, that their 18 month old tested high for lead. They were not sure if this was due to exposure in our home or elsewhere, but felt they needed to make us aware. Absolutely.
As it is New Jersey law to have this test done every year from ages one to three, Isabelle was recently tested and was fine. However, we had just moved and that level may not have depicted an accurate result as far as exposure in this home. Also, as this is not required in California, Zachary had never been tested, giving us no base line with which to compare.
I reluctantly called our pediatrician to get the prescriptions and also inquired about which lab was best for young children. My last experience with Isabelle’s first blood draw here in New Jersey was not a good one and I left wondering if the technician had ever even met a child, let alone stuck needles in their arms.
So, naturally when I was given the recommendation for this particular hospital and told they are “The Best” by our current pediatrician, I expected an office painted in bright primary colors, strewn with fish tanks, children’s books, toys and bubbly nurses and doctors. This was, after all our experience at EVERY pediatric office in Southern California, whether it was an urgent care facility or a blood lab.
Instead, once we found the phlebotomist’s office at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, NJ, we entered to see no children, a drab office and a rude receptionist. I checked to make sure this was the correct place as surely this was not the pediatric lab that came so highly recommended.
Unfortunately, this was in fact the place, so armed with the iPad and chocolate, I carried Zachary back first. I had spent the morning explaining what was happening and had even showed him videos of children getting blood drawn so he would be prepared. This is not a simple prick of a vaccine. Four vials of blood needed to be filled from the most tender part of his arm. He did amazingly well, even with the lack of warmth coming from the technician. He screamed, of course, but it was finished quickly enough and he was out in the waiting room with Daddy, eating a chocolate bunny and playing Monkey’s Preschool lunchbox within five minutes.
Isabelle was next. I broke a rule and allowed the pacifier outside of the crib for this occasion. The tech said nary a cheerful word to her and barely made eye contact as she told me to wrap my legs around her like a vice and called another woman in to help hold her down. I asked if I could breast feed her while they did it. Absolutely not. My 16 month old screamed and shook while three of us forced her into position. I watched as her thin, pale skin bubbled over the barging needle as it poked its way back and forth, up and down. Three times this woman pricked my daughter attempting to find her little vein. And three times she failed.
During attempt number two, the pacifier fell out of Isabelle’s gaping mouth and onto the floor and the tech picked it up and handed it back to her. Are you kidding? This is a blood lab!!!
She gave up and called for a doctor. I sat there holding my baby as she trembled and sobbed, our sweat and tears mixed. Every part of me was saying to screw it and run. This isn’t right. There has to be a better way. But, what if there is lead in her system and it’s never addressed. Which is worse?
The “doctor” arrived with less personality than a cement wall and the torment resumed on the other arm. She was successful in getting her blood, but I have never wanted to slap someone in the face so badly. Both Isabelle and I abruptly escaped, crying. I could barely find Steve and Zachary through the haze of irate red.
I caused the scene of all scenes in the waiting room, now piled with people delayed by my child’s procedure. A sobbing Isabelle in arms, I raced down the hall to find a supervisor and raise holy hell. Steve, Zachary in arms, chased after me and begged me calm down. Much to his chagrin, I found the patient relations office and hysterically told them about our experience. Isabelle’s tear-streaked face and bruised and bleeding arms did much more to make our case then my own incoherent ranting.
I don’t know what my “complaint” today accomplished other than giving fodder for phlebotomist dinner-time stories…”Man. You should have seen this crazy lady today….whew”.
I understand that giving blood is not fun. I understand it hurts. But when it comes to working with children, a little bit of gentleness and compassion, or hell, maybe even a simple “Hi Isabelle! I’m, so and so. How are you?” goes a long way in an already crappy situation, doesn’t it? How hard is it to be friendly?
In the car on the way home, my two and a half year old said,
“Mommy. Calm down. I’m fine. Isabelle is fine. When you cry, you make her cry.”
Out of the mouth of babes.
But, I’m still pissed.
What would you have done? Should we opt out of these tests and take our chances? I’m honestly asking?