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    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Monkey's Lizard Brain

    Poor Monkey is terrified of needles. He’s never had a horrific experience with shots, well, not in reality. In his mind? Who can say what dreadful imaginings lurk in the brain of an eight-year-old boy?

    Of course I don’t blame him for not liking shots, but as he gets bigger, his fight-or-flight response gets harder to manage.

    In our house, we sometimes talk about the lizard brain. It’s that instinctual part of your mind that reacts like an animal’s. There’s scientific mumbo jumbo to go along with this term, and educated folks might even be able to point to this part of the brain on a diagram. I, however, would point to the entire brain and say something stupid like, “There’s the chocolate zone.”

    What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Monkey’s lizard brain. He looses all rational thought when confronted with the prospect of getting a shot and becomes a fifty-pound Juggernaut. He will do just about anything to get away, including:

    • Pummel whoever is holding him,
    • Fling shoes, equipment, whatever is in reach, across the room,
    • Single-handedly fight off parents, doctors, nurses, technicians, and recruited bouncers,
    • Wedge himself in a corner, four feet up the wall, like Spiderman,
    • Hide under the waiting room couch (which had to be lifted off of him),
    • Writhe, scream, and—between the time he finds out about shots and the time he goes into animal mode—bargain and promise like a politician.

    Poor baby. He makes it so much harder on himself than it needs to be. But there is no explaining that concept to a lizard. Or a monkey. Or an eight-year-old.

    This Saturday our whole family is scheduled for flu shots. Of course I haven’t told Monkey yet. But come Saturday morning, he’ll figure it out quickly.

    We do have a fun surprise planned. No, not a straightjacket. If we all survive our shots, and don’t have to stick around for assault charges brought by the medical staff, then the whole family is going to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I’m hoping this dangling carrot will help Monkey retain some portion of his rational mind, and maybe, just maybe, we can get by without the hazmat crew.

    Whatever the case, I’ve been assured that our doctor’s office will be prepared with extra personnel, protective gear, and tranquilizers.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for me? When flu shot time comes around, do your kids turn into lizards? Ninjas? The Hulk? I’d love to hear how you deal with it.


    Andrea said...

    I always told my boys the truth. I told them that it pinches and hurts a little, but if they are still it will not hurt as bad. The key word being "still" and that is the truth. Honestly, they always complied. They sometimes told the nurse, "you hurt me" and/or shed a few tears, but they never went into "melt down" mode. THANK GOD! This is probably not much help....for me the key was telling them the truth.
    I will be praying for you and the little monkey!
    Blessings, andrea

    PS: I have an urgent prayer request on arise 2 write for my brother in law.

    Kersley Fitzgerald said...

    The Creature hasn't had to have a shot in a while. He'd scream, but stay very still. The promise of a bandaid often helped.

    I had my allergy shots yesterday morning. Then I had a tetanus shot last night. The latter one just kicked in. In the words of Han Solo, "I feel terrible."

    Linda B said...

    I was shot-phobic as a very young child also. My family doctor cured me when I was five. He made a deal with me. I would close my eyes and sit still as a statue. He would give me a shot, but the instant it started hurting I could tell him to take the needle out and he would. Then it became a matter of pride to endure the pain as long as possible. We both had a good laugh the day I told him he could take the needle out and he answered from the other side of the room! After that I was fine with shots. My youngest brother, however, had to be held down by six full-grown adults when he was a four-year-old!

    Jessica said...

    Oh no! LOL No advice, but I hope you post on how it goes and give some to me! My youngest are due for their's and I'm not sure how it's going to go. Poor kids.
    Enjoy the movie!

    Kay Day said...

    I've told kids the same as Linda's Dr did. "If it hurts, just say so and she'll take it right out." They're usually done by then anyway.

    I don't get my kids many shots, but we did have the terrible meltdown last time we had to get a blood draw. Now the Dr wants another one. I really don't want to do this again. He was such a mess last time. They make the experience so terrible, and then they associate that with the procedure rather than their own behavior. Then they are even more afraid the next time.

    I used to freak about needles. I remember the fear. The anxiety was always so much worse than the reality. I wish I had an answer!

    Tiffany said...

    My friend gets her needle-phobic child (and the other kids too) the inhaled version of the flu shot. No needles!

    Donita K. Paul said...

    Of course, Evangeline has always told the boys the truth about shots. Monkey's brain works differently than most kids. We always knew he was unique, but a pediatric neurologist confirmed it. That said, many kids, and adults too, have a needle phobia. I have a fear of falling.
    I like the idea of being allowed to tell the nurse to take the needle out. I wonder how I can use that on myself while going down the stairs. Am I allowed to tell the stairs to catch me if I fall?

    BJ Hamrick said...

    Awww... poor Monkey! I used to work at the hospital. One day a patient told me, "I've been shot. I've been stabbed. I've been knifed. None of those things bothered me. But this needle does."

    He asked us to hold him down and when we did, he rubbed a bald spot on the assistant's arm.

    Needles are just hard for some people. Go nasal spray if you can on Saturday!

    Sara said...

    I also hate needles, but I just made a lot of noise (who, me?). The nurses in Namibia were mean and called all the shots we needed "candy"--and the whole group of us (60) "adults" would eagerly say "no candy, we don't like candy" whenever they showed up-- anyway--rewards seem to help phobias like that, but it has to be something he really wants. Glad it went okay :)