When a Doctor Visit is Anything but Routine, Try a Dose of Honesty for Anxiety


For many of us, it’s a part of a routine visit when going for our yearly physical at our doctor’s offices and yet for most of us it’s the part of the visit that gives us the most anxiety. Yep, I am talking about bloodwork.

If a blood draw can create so much anxiety in an adult, I can only imagine that our little people feel that too.

Recently my son had gone to the doctor an now he needed to get some bloodwork taken. I had put it off for almost a week, hoping that it would go away. 

“Will I have to hold him down? Should I bring someone with me for support? Should I tell him ahead of time, or should I just pull an Okee Doke on him and let it be a surprise? Will he hate me?”

After several days of wondering, worrying and procrastinating, I decided that it was best to tell him ahead of time. In detail.

Yes, in detail. Ben is six and I decided that the best course of action would be to tell him exactly what to expect.

I told him about the nice people who would answer any of his questions. I explained a big rubber band would squeeze his arm really tight. It would be uncomfortable. I told him I had seen blue rubber bands and purple rubber bands before, but that I was not entirely sure what color his rubber band was going to be. He hoped for blue, his favorite color.

There would be a hard poke and that his blood would go into a tube and that he could watch it if he wanted or that he could look away, both were ok.  We had a fascinating discussion about the color of blood because on TV it looks red, but in Ben’s body under his skin, it’s most definitely blue. We made bets. I’m guessing you know who won.

I explained it would be over quickly and he would get a Band-Aid? He wondered if it would be cool, I said I didn’t know…and that was it.

The morning of, we had another conversation, much like the conversation we had the night before although this time, he was too interested in the game he was playing on his tablet to really pay attention to me.

Me though, I was freaking out.  Had I made the right decision? Was telling him the best idea?

He was fine but my anxiety was through the roof.

Our wait time was minimal. Thank goodness! The phlebotomist was awesome. She told him what room to go into and he went in and got right into the chair. He was all smiles. He asked questions and they chatted. She asked him to pick an arm and he did.

She gave him the opportunity to be as much in control of the situation as she could.

Within a matter of moments, it was done. It hurt. He cried. The Band-Aid wasn’t as cool as he hoped, it was done.

We got to the car and he was already onto the next thing.

I cried a bit. Mostly from relief – he didn’t hate me.

I’m glad we talked about what to expect. I’m thankful he is mature enough to handle it, and I am relieved they completed the procedure as I had described. And while, a blood draw isn’t pleasant for anyone, but now he knows that if there are tough things that I can explain to him, I will.

I think it also didn’t hurt that his “rubber band” was blue.