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The Impact of These Medical Professionals on My Medically Complex Daughter's Needle Phobia

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That night began as she was buried face first into my chest shaking and arms covered in bruises from being pinned down the previous day. The anticipation of another poke was more than her little body or mind could bear. This was the second time in two days her IV needed to be replaced, the idea of it alone was immobilizing for our 9-year-old daughter who had developed a super-sized phobia of needles.

As I held her tightly, trying to bring her little body and mind any little bit of comfort I could, I was suppressing my own fears and emotions. I was not sure how I was going to get through the next poke myself. Through the years I had become hardened as I watched my little warrior go through procedures, hospitalizations and surgeries. Things that would have previously shattered me, became routine. My strength grew with each test, each visit, each night spent on the bathroom floor. But in this moment I didn’t know how I was going to get through the next poke either. I could not watch the familiar scene of a team of nurses holding my sweet girl down as she struggled screaming at the top of her fragile lungs for them to stop. The pain and trauma were too great to bear. I wouldn’t do it again; we were both breaking.

What I didn’t know was there were three heroes in blue who were about to walk through our hospital room door and change the trajectory of our journey forever. When they are not out saving the world the children’s hospital transport team assists in various situations throughout the hospital. That night, they were called to help us. As soon as they suited up to enter our isolation room, they immediately felt the tension in the air. Rather than getting to work on her IV right away, they sat with her. Over the next two and half hours they built a rapport sharing jokes, chatting about candy in their pockets, watching helicopters take off/land, but most importantly they listened to her, validating her feelings. Slowly our girl’s nerves began to ease. It was the first time she felt seen. They heard her little voice. Never before had anyone respected her feelings and emotions like the transport team did that night.

Eventually, we got settled in and they began to place the IV. Like so many times before the first poke didn’t work. After allowing her some space to recover and prepare for the next poke, they got to work again. I must have been more outwardly nervous than I realized because as I was watching them prepare the needle I noticed someone was rubbing my back, reassuring me we would get to the other side of this. A few seconds later, our girl was dripping blood everywhere but the team didn’t want to lose the vein. It wasn’t even a thought, it was a reaction, they put themselves at risk and when their gloves became too saturated with blood to stay steady they were ripped off and went soaring through the air. They were determined not to poke our girl again. Once the IV was finally placed one of our heroes in blue instinctively kissed my daughter on the top of her head. In that moment she wasn’t a healthcare professional, she was a simply human loving a tiny human.

Contributor's daughter with her arm out while surrounded by three nurses putting an IV in it

They left that night not knowing the impact they left on our hearts. It wasn’t that they were able to get the IV in without restraining our girl, it was that they made our girl feel like her voice and emotions mattered. In the months that followed we often talked about our heroes in blue and because of that night our daughter was slowly able to find her own power and begin to work through her needle phobia.

Last week we found ourselves back in the exact same inpatient room. When our girl’s IV needed to be replaced we didn’t give it a second thought and immediately requested the help of our friends on transport team. A few minutes later we saw the flash of the blue jumpsuits through the door, one of the heroes was our friend from just three months before. This time there was no crying or screaming, this time she sat by herself and the IV was placed within minutes. Just as they were taping the IV down to her arm another hero from the fall walked in carrying a bag. She had made our sweet girl a present but we had been discharged before she could get it to us. For three months the gift sat in her locker and she looked to see if our girl had returned.

What happened that night in October in room 1102 was the single most beautiful thing I have ever been a part of. Nobody cured our daughter’s illnesses, but they saved her heart that day. And our journey will never be the same again. At the age of 9 our daughter felt something that some people never get the opportunity to feel: true human connection with no strings attached. Transport team often saves lives, I just don’t think they expected to save ours this way.

Images via contributor

Originally published: February 16, 2021
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