A Recent Blood Draw Drew Me Back Into a Painful Past
It’s hard to believe that my 16-year-old son, Caeleb, is moving into adulthood. He is not approaching adulthood, but moving toward it, and he still has much to learn about managing hemophilia.
At a recent annual appointment at the hemophilia treatment center (HTC), a nurse quizzed him about what he knew. What’s the name of the product he takes? What’s the name of his pharmacy? How many doses of product does he have on hand?
Caeleb answered most of the questions correctly, and the meeting with the nurse and hematologist went smoothly.
A blood draw was the final thing to do. Caeleb began to chat with the nurses as they used a tourniquet to look for the best vein. But the first needle stick was very painful for him, and there was no flash of blood to indicate that the needle was in the proper place. The second attempt went just like the first. I watched, unsure how I felt about seeing Caeleb struggle.
Caeleb approaches blood draws with some hesitation. For many years, he lived with a fear of needles, and each infusion ended with him being restrained. Caeleb is now able to inject his medication without a problem. Needles are a part of his life, and he has overcome his fear. So I was shocked when he cried out in pain during the two failed attempts.
The sight of a needle alone used to elicit a reaction from Caeleb. He would scream, cry, and fight to maintain control of his body. As the nurses tried to find a vein while he lay pinned to the table, I’d lean toward him and whisper a reminder to find his courage. I could taste and even smell the salt in his tears as I held him close. Yet nothing could calm him, and in those moments he seemed different, transformed. His voice changed when fear overtook him, and his screams and cries pierced the air, but there was also a depth to his tone. It was as if the Caeleb I knew was no longer in the room. Those moments are seared into my heart.
That fear visited again in Caeleb’s recent tears. It opened a door in my heart that had been closed for years. Once again, I was afraid for my son, and memories of traumatic infusions flooded in. I caught my breath as he cried out.
Sometimes, a memory transports us to happier times. In other instances, it takes us back to when our lives were in shambles and hope was gone. It’s important to find the lessons in our joys and our tragedies.
Perhaps my memory of those painful infusions was a sign for me to pay closer attention to my son’s bleeding disorder. I am grateful for that nudge. A quick reminder of the past was all it took for me to open my eyes and realize that I, too, still have much to learn about managing hemophilia.
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