We had been there in the basement of the hospital for hours. It was supposed to be a routine blood draw, which we have had done dozens of times before, but for some reason the orders were not in the system this time. In fact, despite the fact that we had been in for a blood draw less than two weeks ago, the system said that we had not had orders since November. So we sat and waited for them to figure it out.
I called my son’s neurology office, but everyone who knew anything had juuuuust gone into a room with a patient, so nobody could do anything just yet. We sat and waited some more, and then we waited even more. I went up to the window for the nth time and I asked if there had been any new information. There had not. It took over 90 minutes before I finally got neurology on the phone, coincidentally at the exact same moment that phlebotomy got neurology on the phone. All was sorted out, just moments before I was about to give up and take the kids home. Seriously, we had read the National Geographic cover to cover twice already, and antsy did not begin to describe the state of my young offspring.
We were ushered into the familiar room, the one with the fish stickers all over the wall, and the nurse started the vein-finding process, but Edward was waaaaaaay too wiggly at this point, so she needed to go get a second person to hold him down. The two of them managed to keep him still enough to stick him, but the blood would not come. He was squealing, they gave up, and now there was a third person in there, looking for a good spot on the other arm.
They did finally get the blood drawn after this lengthy ordeal, and as we were walking out Edward went over to the table where snacks are provided to people who have had blood taken. And that’s where he was stopped by a zealous volunteer who, seemingly, had personally baked the goodies for the table she was guarding.
“I don’t think so,” she snapped, grabbing my son’s wrist. “These are for the patients. You need to go find your parents.”
Well I don’t know if you have ever met Edward, but this went over like a lead balloon. He shrieked in her face, dropped the serving utensil he had picked up to retrieve the banana bread he wanted, and just made a grab for the bread itself. “I’m his parent,” I interrupted, “and he’s just getting a snack.”
“These snacks are for the patients,” she glowered at me, still holding my son’s wrist tightly.
“My son is a patient,” I informed her dryly. “He just had blood drawn.”
“Hmmmph,” she said, seemingly miffed, “well perhaps he would like a Rice Krispie Treat or Fig Newton.” She gestured to the boxes of pre-packed junk food, refusing to look me in the eye.
“I think he wants that piece of banana bread,” I said, refusing to be intimidated.
“But… it’s the last piece…” she said almost pleadingly, looking up at me for the first time.
I met her gaze and said nothing.
“Well, I guess if he got blood drawn…” she mumbled weakly, and released my son. He snatched up the last piece of banana bread from the paper plate and walked out triumphantly.
“Thanks,” I said in an unthankful manner, and we headed back to the car.
People, especially people volunteering at a hospital, please be kind. Please do not jump to conclusions. I get, if you did not see the band aids on his arms, that he might look like some sneaky kid trying to steal all the snacks. And let’s be honest, in another situation he totally would have been the sneaky kid trying to steal all the snacks. But today, he was a kid who had been sitting for two hours waiting and dreading, and who had gotten two pokes instead of one, and who was entitled to whatever was on that snack table. I love that you are volunteering at the hospital, and that you are probably there to make people’s days a little better when they are in an unpleasant situation. But today, you made a patient’s day a little worse. There are kinder ways to ensure that ruffians do not make off with the banana bread, and yes, kids can be patients too. I hope that you remember that next time.