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How to prepare DS for having blood taken?

(18 Posts)
puntasticusername Sat 15-Feb-14 23:29:32

Would appreciate some help with this, can't quite think my way through it alone. DS1 (just 3, but quite mature in language/understanding) visited the paediatrician at the hospital last week, for a relatively minor issue (ok, so it's a probable haemorrhoid grin). It all went fine and he was pretty un-fazed by it - even the trickier bits eg lying on his side with legs pulled up so she could examine the area in question. From his point of view it was a good outing as they had loads of toys there, including a fantastic big wooden pirate ship that we played on together (what? It was fun! smile).

However, she wants us to return next Monday morning so he can have some blood taken - just for completeness and to rule out more serious underlying issues. I think this could potentially be more traumatic for him as he will need to have some numbing cream applied to the back of his hand, keep it on for half an hour and then have the blood taken, with the inevitable needles and seeing the blood come out etc etc.

I'm all for keeping these sorts of things low key and upbeat, which seemed to work fine last time (we just explained, matter of factly, that we needed to go and see a special doctor as DS sometimes has blood come out of his bottom after he does a poo, and blood shouldn't really come out of people's bottoms, but it's ok because the doctor will help us stop it coming out). Equally, I'm sure the nurses will be past masters at this business and will see him right. However, I feel I need to try and explain the whole thing to him somehow, before we go. How do I best prepare a 3yo for this experience?

At present he's only expressed a wish to go back and play on the excellent pirate ship again, and I've said I might possibly take him soon but only if he's very very good - mean Mama... smile

There is the added complication that I will have 8 week old DS2 in tow, so while he will hopefully co operate and sleep through the whole thing just as he did last time, there is the distinct possibility that he will be screaming the place down - I'm reasonably comfortable with parking him in the corner for five minutes and letting him get on with it, but it will undoubtedly raise the general stress levels and mean I won't be entirely focused on helping DS1, as I'd like.

Unfortunately there is no one else who can come with us to help take care of either child - DH needs to be at work and we don't have any other family close enough by.

Any advice appreciated. TIA.

puntasticusername Sat 15-Feb-14 23:30:03

Whoah, that was longer than intended, sorry smile

fizzly Sat 15-Feb-14 23:41:52

My DS has had to have blood taken 3 or 4 times. We've never made a big deal out of it. He's at the doctors / hospital anyway (he has a relatively minor but chronic condition), sees the doctor and then I've just been matter of fact about it. "The doctor needs to check your blood and to do that they're going to put some funny cream on your hand and then do a test." I've not gone into the details of the blood test or needles. He's not thought twice about the numbing cream - too busy trying to get back in front of the Tv in the kids waiting room - and when it comes to the test the staff are amazing and make great efforts to make sure he doesn't actually see the needle - lots of distraction etc. He's never expressed any pain, discomfort or concern about the test. He's had a sticker at the end and been perfectly happy. We may have been lucky never to have had a nurse who's struggled to find a vein etc - I know that it can be more problematic.

Frankly it probably helps that I've never been anxious about blood tests and so I probably don't transmit any vibes to him. I spent quite a bit of time in and out of hospital as a child and blood tests were a necessary evil and significantly less intrusive than other tests. Consequently, I've never been bothered by needles and I would hope that my kids won't be either.

He's 4 now and will be having it again in a few weeks time and I can imagine he'll ask more questions this time as he's quite interested in blood and health etc. But the numbing cream really does seem to work and I don't anticipate any additional issues.

fizzly Sat 15-Feb-14 23:42:02

Also longer than intended sorry!!

fizzly Sat 15-Feb-14 23:44:18

And to answer your specific question, I did no 'preparing' in advance. Just in the moment, this is what's going to happen next.

I do hope all is ok with the results.

Chipsanddips Sat 15-Feb-14 23:56:10

Ds1 had to have blood tests when he was 3.

When we went back in for the blood test after the numbing cream we took a story book he chose from the waiting room (you could take he favourite from home or a special new book). I then sat him on my right knee with his left arm under my right armpit and behind my back. I read him the story whilst the nurse took the blood and he couldn't see or feel anything.

Hope that makes sense.

puntasticusername Sat 15-Feb-14 23:58:46

Thanks fizzly that's very reassuring. I'd kind of assumed that he'd be freaked out by the needles and that I'd be letting him down if I didn't try and make it less scary for him, but maybe not! As you say, I'm sure the nurses will be fully on the ball. I'll stick with my previous tactics then, ie being outwardly laid back to the point of being horizontal, and a fervent preoccupation with where those pesky pirates have buried their treasure...

FWIW I've no issue with needles for myself - I'm the kind of person who keenly goes to give blood and likes to watch the needle going in, and the blood flowing through the tubes, out of sheer, ghoulish fascination - perhaps my concern here is something to do with seeing my PFB being punctured! smile

Thanks for the good wishes - the doctor did say she was 99% sure this was nothing serious and the tests are just to tick all the boxes, sort of thing - so hopefully that will prove to be true!

puntasticusername Sun 16-Feb-14 00:01:26

X-post with Chipsanddips - wow, so the cream means they literally can't feel a thing? Awesome. Right. In that case, I feel a brand new Ninja Turtles magazine coming on, just in time for this appointment...

Thanks again, both, much appreciated.

Theas18 Sun 16-Feb-14 00:04:30

Agree with fizzly.

I've not done bloods with a 3yr old, but a simple matter of fact " the cream will make the skin numb so it won't hurt, but you might fell a push like when you put your finger on a pencil tip or biro , then they'll take the blood out - just a little - less than a little spoonful and do tests to make sure it's really healthy blood "

It's important to say they will still feel the pressure though - kids seem to think numb means you can't feel anything, so feeling pressure / touch spooks them sometimes.

Worked ok with a just 6yr old who was worried. Don't tell in advance just when the cream goes on, probably followed by " let's find the pirates whilst the magic works"

If needs be (esp with my DS ) I bored him into a stupor with lots if blood related facts about fighting infection etc- somehow just a lot of distracting words helps...

Have something to eat beforehand - dd did faint at her fasting blood test !

Oh and a huge and hand hold for you, putting on a bright bubbly front is needed but isn't easy for the mum

dayshiftdoris Sun 16-Feb-14 00:08:49

I have a son with ASD and use social stories - there are quite a few blood taking ones online.

They might be a tool for kids with ASD but seriously they are perfect in breaking down things for all kids

LadySybilVimes Sun 16-Feb-14 00:16:15

My son had blood taken regularly but I'm afraid I didn't manage it very well. It used to take 4 people to hold him down at one stage. I can tell you what I did so you can do the opposite though if you'd like? blush

kingbeat23 Sun 16-Feb-14 00:26:36

At the hospital I went to with DD they used a card that they hold in front of her face, almost like a blinker. I think it made it worse as she wanted to see. She sat on my lap and I held her in a, well, a lock hold really so if she did move, it was less damaging for her.

I took a chocolate bar with me to distract her and made a fuss. She was totally fine once we'd gone out of the doors.

We talked a little bit about it beforehand, but just in a matter of fact way to make her understand. Like the reasons why. Which I think you've done and sounds great.

Age appropriate truths are key.

puntasticusername Sun 16-Feb-14 16:36:23

Thanks again for all the advice. I've had a look at the social stories - they seem really useful. I think I'm going to go with the low-key, keep-it-bubbly option and explain things as we go along. Luckily we have a rare treat - going to visit distant, treasured relatives - to look forward to afterwards, so I can see that getting mentioned a lot!

I'm usually pretty good with medical procedures but this discussion has made me realise yes, I do have a problem with seeing DS poked and prodded and interfered it! I'll try and keep on top of it on the day.

somewheresomehow Sun 16-Feb-14 16:49:21

my dc 3 (age 22) has just had a little op on a delicate part and he told the nurses he was worried about needles they put the magic cream on his hand and he said it was brill didn't feel a thing hes sore now though sad

mummyto2boysandagirl3 Sun 16-Feb-14 21:29:13

Not read all the replies but recently took my 3 yr old for blood test he coped with it brilliantly. We put numbing cream on backs of hands and in elbows wrapped in cling film them wooly jumper and gloves to keep him warm as it makes the veins easier to c and easier for nurse to get the blood out. I told him that he needed to have a needle put in his arm and attempted to keep him looking away but he turned round and asked the nurse what it was she was doing. She was fab explained it was his blood and his heart pumps it all around his body he has lots of it and the dr just needed to look at a little bit of it. She gave him some sweets after but tbh he'd have been fine if she hadn't. He wasn't phased by it at all and it upset me a lot more than it did him.

Hope ur lb gets on ok

puntasticusername Mon 17-Feb-14 20:52:42

Hey, just reporting back! smile

It all went fine. DS didn't even realise what was happening - he didn't mind, or ask questions about having the Magic Cream put on the back of his hand, and when it came to the main event he and I focused on a (hospital-provided) tablet and tried to make Peppa jump in as many muddy puddles as we could, while other mysterious things went on behind both of our backs.

My only criticism of the hospital would be that we arrived half an hour ahead of our appt, as instructed last week, to have the numbing cream put on; only to be told that it really needed an hour to work properly. Hadn't anyone told us that when we'd booked the appt? And given us the cream to put on at home, to save some time?

Er. No. Unfortunately, they did not hmm Luckily, there were enough quality toys at the hospital to keep DS1 occupied for the full hour - and DS2 was duly cooperative and slept through the whole thing.

So my Learning Point for anyone else in this situation would be to enquire robustly about that bit...but otherwise, it all went really smoothly. Thankyou, wise mners, for helping us!smile

mummyto2boysandagirl3 Tue 18-Feb-14 09:33:22

Glad it all went well smile

fizzly Tue 18-Feb-14 21:02:00

So glad it went well - and well done for being cool, calm and collected! We always have to hang around for ages too - it is a massive PITA!

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