Day 619: Find your support system.

Day 619

E, the 9yr old, finally got her 1st Vax dose today.

I feel relieved that the girls are both on their way to being protected.

After E and I went through a couple social stories last night to break down today in more digestible pieces, she went and packed her bag so that she would be ready in the morning.

We had been talking about this day for a long time. She has been protesting the entire time. More afraid of feeling any pain than anything else.

Which is odd. She was once stung by at least 10 different bees but we had no idea for at least 24hrs when we had to pull out each stinger.

E’s anxiety has been through the roof lately. Between fires and tornados and flooding, and getting a shot – I got a little frustrated.

So one day earlier this week, I told her that she will be getting the vaccine, even if she screams and cries and fights, because kids are dying without it if they do get sick.

She agreed to finally get the shot bc she didn’t want to die, but she did tell me that should would scream and cry.

I told her that would be fine. Mommy and daddy would not love her any less. And we would be there to help her through it no matter whaf.

Anyways…

E greeted me at the bottom of the stairs this morning after I woke up. She was ready to go.

But it was 3hrs too early.

I wished I could have just picked her up and taken her then.

I knew the wait was going to give her anxiety the chance take hold.

I triple checked that I gave her her meds. That’s the last thing we need today…an avoidable storm.

As we painfully waited for the 3 hours to pass, E would check in every once in awhile to see if it was time to go. I reminded her that we would head out to the car when it was 1215pm and not a minute earlier.

She looked at her watch and confirmed – 1215? Yes, 1-2-1-5.

In the background, I watched and listened as B checked on her little sister, making sure she was comfortable le and had whatever she wanted or needed.

We always remind B that she is not E’s parent or manager of emotions. But that hasn’t deterred B from helping E have an easier time.

B has experienced more of E’s storms than I care for her to.

E’s storms can be brutal.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, when we finally got in the car, E was quieter than she has been in a long time. Maybe she was centering herself, or maybe she was contemplating life, or her best route to escape.

Regardless, when we got to Doernbecher’s, she was doing Ok. She put on her coat, and her backpack and her pink little camera bag and grabbed her heavy teddy.

B at one point rubbed E’s back, giving her some physical input to reassure her we were there.

Getting shots has never, ever, been easy for her. They have all been a source of kicking, screaming, crying, trauma.

Her daddy, sister, and I all surrounded her.

As we walked into the lobby, we waited in line to get checked-in.

E held it together longer than I thought she would honestly.

I heard heavy teddy drop as I stood there, giving them her stats, and confirming her legal name, but making sure at least her preferred name was listed.

I looked down, and had flashbacks to our wedding. If you know you know.

I knew if we didn’t intervene in that moment, the moment heavy teddy left her death grip – we would never make it into the elevator and up to the 7th floor.

The lobby was crowded, kids and their parents, half excited to start the long journey to being protected, half tensly remaining calm so our kids can’t pick up on our anxieties.

A thousand different sounds bounced off beautiful metal works of art, vibrating and echoing everywhere.

I had B grab the heavy teddy because E was quickly shedding layers.

I knew there was a Starbucks in the lobby. We have been here before. But I had zero clue if it was open. It was Sunday after all.

Confirming our medical insurance and address, I saw a couple people ordering something from said Starbucks, and I told my husband to go.

He took them. And thank the universe – they weren’t sold out of cake pops.

We waited for the elevator with two other families. All of us parents were ready for what was on the 7th floor. Our kids? Anxiously ready.

The way that Doernbecher has set up their vaccine clinic is so that they can make it fun, and distracting, for the kids.

I didn’t need to tell them E had X, Y, or Z diagnosis to make sure they took a little extra care to make the scary less scary.

The nurses and doctors and staff knew how stressful this experience was going to be for many of their kiddos, and they tried their best to be inclusive of all kids.

In fact, the only drawback from the whole experience was that there were ALOT more humans surrounding us than E has been around in almost 2 years.

So it was a little loud and a little chaotic.

Which is fine. We prepare for those moments with headphones to listen to her tablet or earplugs (which we forgot earplugs now that I am realizing it).

She didn’t use any.

By the time we reached the end of one corridor, the nurse was already ready to pull us into a room.

The nurse asked who was getting the vaccine and the three of us pointed to E.

I made a comment that we were just her support team. And that’s exactly what we were.

She wanted us all there. And we helped her remain strong.

When she learned that E was the one that was getting her shot, the nurse commented on her coat and tried to engage with her.

And kudos to that nurse because E pretty much immediately shut down by the time the exam room door closed, but the nurse was never once impatient or frustrated.

I did step in to answer questions on behalf of E. And the six of us in that room dropped as much love and support as we could.

After one question too many had been asked – buzzy or no buzzy, frozen spray or no frozen spray, right or left, etc – E was over it.

I don’t blame her. This whole adventure was a lot to take in.

I had B leave the couch so Daddy could sit next to E.

Daddy held her tight. She tried kicking to escape. She screamed. Daddy held tighter, crossing his legs to lock her legs in.

B and I were standing off to the side after hustling to move all of E’s accessories out of the way.

E started screaming louder, begging to not get the shot.

B covered her ears. It was loud in that suddenly dollhouse-sized room.

I pulled B in close and became a barrier between her sister and her.

B loves her sister so much, it physically hurts her to see her sister in so much pain.

Whether it be physical or mental, when her sister is hurting – if she can’t take the pain away – then she can’t watch.

I don’t blame her.

I can’t either sometimes. For both my girls.

I held her tight.

We both listened to her screams quiet. Holding on to B, I moved us sideways so I could keep an eye on E.

When Daddy let go of E, I let go of B.

It was over.

We watched the nurse apply a hot pink bandaid that E is still amazed that they knew her favorite color.

After Daddy gave his baby girl all the love, she finally hopped off his lap and headed to the prize table.

The nurses pointed us to the 15-minute holding area and we sat.

We watched kid after kid stomp a yellow ball to get the bubbles in the giant lava lamp type sensory toy to engage, pushing up small balls and beads.

We hyperfocused on the strands of light that were changing colors on a timer.

And we sat there, taking in the gravity of the moment. Well, I was.

I can stop the daily counts next month.

Our girls are going to be vaccinated.

On our way home, as we replayed what worked and what didn’t, E verbalized something that she wouldn’t have been able to just a year ago.

E said “the next time, I want the cold spray and the buzzy thingy.”

It may not seem big to some. But to me, to us, her support team – that request was huge

You got it E. Hell let’s buy a buzzy thing and cold spray for home.

So much has changed in 619 days. But one thing that hasn’t- is my overwhelming joy when we find something that works for E.

It’s been a few hours and so far E is still bouncing off the walls. But she does have control over the TV today.

I don’t know how the 2nd one will go. That’s 3 weeks in the future Kelly’s problem.

However, I am still trying my hardest to make a Margarita appear out of thin air.

I can make it happen in my book world….

Adventure on with Curiosity, and please help your kids get vaccinated,
-K. Steele.

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