The Five-Year Check Up

It all started innocently enough. Zach reminded me that Alex had his five-year checkup in the morning, a fact that I had almost forgotten as I was giving Alex his bath and thinking about maybe sleeping in just a touch the next morning.

“Am I going to get a shot?”

Alex’s big blue eyes looked at us, hoping the answer was going to be a resounding no. Hoping that this doctor would be like his pulmonology doctor, who has never done anything more than look in his mouth or listen to him breathe, I’m sure. Wishing that the appointment would end in a treat but nothing invasive, without a doubt.

I sighed, and answered him honestly: “Yes. Unfortunately you will have to get a shot tomorrow…”

The tears were instant. The wails were strong. Between sobs, he explained to us just how much he did not want a shot. He told us he didn’t want a hole in his arm.

Zach held him, rocked him, shushed him, as I tried to explain how quick it would be. How it would hurt, I couldn’t lie about that, but that it would be over in an instant. And! And! It would keep him healthy!

Needless to say, nothing I said could calm him down. He cried on and off for a while, eventually settling and accepting that it was time to read a book (Batman!) before bed.

When I finished singing to him and kissed him goodnight, he looked up at me with tears in his eyes. “Mommy, I just don’t want to be shot tomorrow. I don’t like it when they put holes in my arm. And I hate Band-aids.”

I kissed him again, reminding him that he has done so well on his chore-chart that after his appointment I’ll give him the one extra sticker he needs for a new toy. His sniffling broke my heart, but he said “okay” and told me he loved me.

The appointment was not as disastrous as I had expected. Knowing that he was going to get “holes in his arms,” I had assumed he would not cooperate for anything or anyone. I was happily surprised that he was nice to the medical assistant, and even nicer to the doctor.

He told the doctor my phone number, our address, and answered most of the doctor’s questions with, “I already know that.” (“Are you learning your letters?” “I already know dem.”)

When the doctor left and said the nurse would be in for the vaccines, Alex jumped off of my lap and hid under the examination table. He was behind a little ledge, crying, insisting that he was never going to come out unless I said he didn’t have to get the shots.

Eventually he came out, and when the nurse gave him his shots I almost cried as hard as he did. “Noo! You have to stop! It hurts! Not another one! NOOOO!”

Holding down your five year old kid while he gets stabbed three times for a reason that he cannot possibly comprehend? Insanely awful. Insanely painful.

He cried for a solid twenty minutes while we sat in the examination room. He sniffled and moaned for another hour as we left and drove to the toy store, like I had promised him. He insisted I hold his hand “down at my size” so that he didn’t have to lift his arm higher than necessary.

I am so happy we won’t have to do that again for some time. And I have yet another reason to hope that his need for his controller medication for asthma is gone at his next pulmonology appointment in February: he can do the flu mist instead of the injection.

Poor kid. Today was not a good Monday. Just ask Alex.

September 16