In past columns, I discussed my frustrations when anger rears its ugly head out of the shadows of my consciousness and takes hold of me. It isn’t pretty, nor is it the best choice to make. I wasn’t prepared to handle the overwhelming emotions that came over me when something happened that required me to be “on.” I learned how to infuse, but I did not learn what to do if I missed.
Panic proved a natural thing for me, as every ounce of me danced around a dangerous fire, known as the flames of anger and fear. I was angry at myself for missing the first (and sometimes second and third) veins. Anxiety matched the panic in my son’s eyes as we searched his body, hoping to find the vein of the evening. In our house, we call it vein shopping. We let my son explore to see what he discovered.
Through the anger, the fear, the panic, and the overwhelming anxiety, the search for the right vein always led us to the best place to land. All it took was an unanxious presence. I discovered that if I listened to myself, all the junky feelings were placed aside and we calmly finished the medical procedure. My son managed his impulses when everything remained still with no negative emotions present.
To get to the place to overcome the panic I felt, I had to walk away for about 15 seconds, breathe, calm my spirit, and walk back into the room. The hard part was breaking the cycle of overwhelming emotions that, once I was in their grip, made it seem as if I couldn’t find freedom. The irony is that the more you fight, the more the disease and rage fight against you. Maintaining a calm presence was the best plan of attack.
And so, I began to find ways to overcome times of panic in the life of my family. Full connection occurred, in the twinkling of an eye, and my entire transformation went from blind rage to daddy defender.
The other thing no one ever told me included the feeling I had after the battle was won and guilt got the better of me. “How could I talk so loudly to my boy? What was I thinking? Is he OK?” All the crazy deluge of worry and regret took its toll on the good news. We found a vein! It is a great day.
But shame sometimes overcomes joy. That is when we must offer ourselves grace. We are not perfect; we are only humans, trying to do what is right for our children. Guilt became such a part of my life that I started seeing a therapist because I didn’t know how to process feelings of anger and anxiety. I told my counselor that I had deep feelings of remorse at how I treated my son, and he responded (as only he could), “Joe, if that happens again, tell him that you were not mad at him. You were frustrated at having a hard time getting the medicine in his body. He’ll understand.”
When Mr. Counselor made his statement, a light bulb went off in my head. The emotion that overwhelmed me may have looked like anger, yet I think it was frustration at being powerless. I am my son’s greatest advocate. He looks at me and expects me to have all the answers to life’s questions. To admit that I can’t solve this issue is complete blasphemy. Yet, he sits there with full confidence in my ability to produce the solution.
Further introspection confronts the hardest realization: What if I am not the daddy he needs? While this couldn’t be further from the truth, there is a tiny part of me as a man that was left to wonder if I have what it takes to be who my son requires. At this moment, anger meets powerlessness as the excitement turns away from my son and toward my inadequacies.
He has nothing to do with it. He is this miracle looking at me as his protector, and the reality is, I can shelter my boy from most things, but there are times he must walk the journey alone. My calming presence (when I check out and then check back in) is the model that he needs. I must change my behavior because the only thing he must know is that this is not his fault and that I love him with every waking breath.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.