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Using Words to Fight Fear

Peter finds anything medical very scary.

Peter is not the best at describing what hurts him or has him not feeling well. Part of it is his level of ability to describe feelings and part of it is his desire to avoid medical personnel whenever possible.

When Peter was little, if he walked around the house saying, “I’m fine, I’m fine,” we would begin looking for blood. Most of the time, we would find the source and battle with him to help clean the wound, put on some medicine and bandage it. The battle would continue to keep the cut covered too, since Peter does not like sticky and bandages are sticky.

With that kind of background, you can imagine how much I stress about big procedures. Due to a few symptoms I can only partially piece together—some headaches, a leg that Peter hits because he says it does not feel right, and a change in growth pattern we were sent for an MRI with sedation.

Peter’s first concern was he did not want someone taking pictures of his mind. I told him pictures of his brain are different than pictures of his mind. He was not too sure I was right about that.

The nurses were incredible with Peter! He was a litany of questions and concerns from the moment he found out about the test. By the time he arrived at the hospital, his list of questions for them was pretty clear and came rapid fire. In between the medical questions, he would ask why they did not have certain channels on the cool pull right in front of you television set.

The nurses kept Peter as calm as possible as they and I took turns answering Peter’s concerns. It took four people, plus me, to help keep Peter calm when they put the catheter into his hand. I was so glad he could tell us he was scared. I think that helped.

When he woke up and the test was over, one of the first things Peter said was, “Wow that was a great medicine.” He sounded like one of those characters in the 1970s shows that smoked the funny cigarettes. He was quite happy and had all the nurses chuckling. The questions continued, but were more focused on breakfast and going home. I observed that the medicine also brought Peter’s verbal abilities up a notch or two.

When I told Peter he was brave, he said he didn’t think so because he had cried. I told him, brave is being scared and doing it anyway. Peter liked that. The tests all came back fine. The medical mystery continues, but Peter battled another fear and won. He is learning how to use words and knowledge to battle his fears.

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