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When You Need Help to Stay Calm for Your Child in Scary Situations

“Look at me. Into my eyes. Don’t look anywhere else. You need to do this.”

My daughter is laying on a hospital bed screaming with an intensity of pain and desperation I’ve never heard from her in her 5 years of life. She had broken her leg in an accident while at daycare just two hours earlier. They had just finished taking X-rays of her leg, which of course involved touching and moving the leg. I held her arms down and pressed my face against her face. She screamed and sobbed loudly while I sobbed quietly along with her and attempted to utter reassuring words into her ear that I wasn’t sure I even believed.

“Mama, help me, please!”

“It’s OK. Everything is OK.”

No, everything was not OK. I was broken down after seeing my baby in pain that I couldn’t fix, and I didn’t feel she was being treated fairly. Why are we putting her through this without pain control? Can’t we give her something, anything to help make this easier?

After that initial X-ray showed a spiral fracture of the left tibia, the doctor barked at the X-ray tech to “get an X-ray of the left femur.”

I basically levitated across the room from my daughter to the doctor and hissed inches from her face, “No. Nobody touches her until you’ve made her more comfortable. This is unacceptable and cruel.”

I feel someone firmly put a hand on my shoulder and turn me around. Through my blurry vision of tears, I see it’s the X-ray technician.

My words come out, rushed and filled with panic before she can even say anything.

“No, they aren’t putting her through that again without pain control — she can’t take it, I can’t take it, this is cruel and wrong, that doctor is wrong, I won’t le –”

The X-ray tech interrupted my panicked words with a calm voice.

“I hear you mama. I hear you. They are going to get her something before we continue, she won’t feel this pain again.”

I try to continue on my tyrant but she stops me.

“Look at me. Into my eyes. Don’t look anywhere else. You need to do this. Your daughter needs you right now. She needs you to do this. You need to be strong for your daughter. You can do this. Be strong for your daughter.”

She grounded me.

All medical personnel left the room and I was left alone with my daughter. A few minutes later a nurse came back with some light sedation and we were able to finish the X-ray and splinting process without the ear piercing screams and pleas for help from my daughter.

It can be impossible to keep our cool when our kids or loved ones are in pain if we don’t have someone there to ground us.

Thank you to that X-ray technician, who’s name I never even learned.

Getty image by GOLFX