My son Alex has autism and has been terrified of medical procedures involving needles since he was a little guy.
The sight of a needle triggered him to become dysregulated and physically aggressive. This made getting a shot impossible and we were forced to physically hold him still. This was easy to do when he was small, but as he got bigger and stronger we had to restrain him.
Believe me, restraint is never what a parent wants to do. I would be in a puddle of tears seeing Alex so upset. I knew something had to change because restraint was simply not a long term sustainable solution.
Enter the Pandemic
I am not promoting vaccinations and respect all sides of the vaccination argument. However, my family made the decision to be vaccinated for COVID.
With this motivation, I began my search for a product that might be able to help tolerate a shot. I discovered The BUZZY. I read how this little device combines cold and vibration to block the pain at the injection site. I immediately purchased it and couldn’t wait for it to arrive.
I first had to get Alex used to the BUZZY, so we implemented a desensitization program.
In short, a systematic desensitization program is where an individual receives reinforcement (something rewarding) for appropriate responses to broken down steps of a specific activity (in the steps of a shot). Ultimately, the individual is able to participate in that activity or task without challenging behaviors.
We waited in the long car line. I fired up the BUZZY as we approached our turn so Alex’s arm was ready to feel no pain.
In spite of being a bit nervous, he tolerated the shot without a hitch.
You might as well have given me a million dollars I was so elated. I was on an emotional high and overjoyed that this simple device was responsible for allowing my son to have his first shot without restraint, aggression, tears and the overall angst that we had experienced for decades. Alex was 26 at the time.
The Dreaded Blood Draw
Blood can tell you about organ function, diet, metabolism, illnesses and diseases. That’s why doctors encourage routine blood work annually. Unfortunately, we had to forgo annual blood work because Alex could not tolerate it.
Let’s keep in mind that a quick prick of a needle for a shot is a very different procedure from a longer blood draw that requires poking, prodding and seeing the blood withdrawn.
Unfortunately, the only time we were able to get blood work on Alex was when he had to be hospitalized for a dental procedure where he could be fully sedated. (This is a whole different story and blog.) Since it only happened twice, we had only gotten blood work on Alex twice in his life.
Fast forward. This year we learned that Alex needed to have some wisdom teeth out. Now Alex is 28. “Oh good,” I thought, “finally another opportunity to get blood work while he’s under sedation at the hospital.”
A few days before the surgery, Alex’s EKG to clear him for the hospital procedure was abnormal. The only way to get him cleared was to get blood work.
I had a dilemma!
How was I going to get blood work without him being sedated?
I immediately went home and practiced the BUZZY on the inside of Alex’s arm accompanied by a prick of a toothpick, of course not drawing blood.
I called the blood lab ahead of time letting them know we were coming and our circumstances. I asked them to work with me and the BUZZY, to be flexible with us and follow my lead.
Well, it happened. Alex experienced his first blood draw. I was even more excited than when he got his first shot. Finally, I would be able to get a snapshot of Alex’s overall health and be proactive.
By the way, his bad EKG was due to the less sophisticated EKG machine in the doctor’s office. His blood work cleared him for the surgery.
Talk about a health game changer!
Adding these medical procedures to Alex’s health life-skills bucket vastly improves the quality of his life. He no longer has to be frightened, restrained or sedated to have a shot or a blood draw. Imagine how great that feels for him?
We also found out that Alex’s cholesterol was high. We hope he is on temporary medication for it while we work on getting his weight down. Finding out about medical issues that impact our health is the very reason why it was so important for me to help Alex tolerate getting blood work.
As his mother, I am on the top of the world, all thanks to the BUZZY!