We have had to overcome our first hiccup. Turns out all four of us were supposed to have medical clearance before entering the country to include a tuberculosis (TB) test and bloodwork. I suspect that everyone was so focused on the Covid aspect of entering the country that the medical clearance was simply overlooked. In the end, no matter where in the world we were, it would have ended the same way, i.e. in tears and promises we never intended to keep. I tried to tell Marcus that if he could just keep it together for the blood work portion I would buy him a beer but he was so worked up, he didn’t hear me and I never did have to buy that beer.
Marcus is nothing, though, compared to the children. I have dealt with these two and their debilitating fear of needles for going on 10 years now. For a short while the oldest did fine but then I think she and her sister decided to join forces and now they’re both miserable. Thus, we found ourselves pleading, cajoling, and threatening our children to get a TB test and then, a small finger prick for a blood test.
On day one (mind you, we never intended to make this a two-parter) we all had to have a TB test. As we explained to the children, who were hearing none of it, we had to take the TB test or we were moving back to the states; this was a mandatory test for Singapore. Marcus bravely took on the challenge of helping the girls through this one though he was doomed from the start. The doctor had popped his head in the room almost as an aside and said he would be sending the girls to get bloodwork at the hospital. The words had barely left his mouth before the tears started. The youngest was so overcome by her grief that she had to leave the room, firmly planting herself in the hallway and proclaiming that she would not be going anywhere unless it was back to the states. Meanwhile, the oldest sat in stoic silence but that was all a ruse. She was just fighting her battle internally.
I had tried to warn Marcus of what could possibly transpire should the children need shots or bloodwork but I don’t think he believed me. I think he thought that his ability to be the more calm parent would help him and would give the girls the courage to do what they needed to do. It did not. Instead, he found himself eventually lying on top of both of the girls (after the first attempt and he had lost all patience) in order for the nurse to insert the tiniest of needles about a 1/10 of an inch into the skin to conduct the TB test. In the end, both girls had the test, and both walked away as if their father had not just forcibly held them down. We will be starting a GoFundMe for future psychiatric bills very soon.
On day two, we needed bloodwork. By this point I had enlisted the help of my mom who started researching ways to help children overcome their fear, or, in this case, mask it since we weren’t going to have time to overcome anything. We discovered that Dramamine would help with anxiety and a device to buzz on their skin would confuse the nerves to not feel pain. We also learned that a topical numbing agent such as lidocaine would help. I did all of that. I doped the shit out of them. I numbed their fingers to oblivion (still not sure they can feel them). Marcus downloaded an app on his phone that would constantly buzz. We promised them puppies and kittens and ice cream for breakfast (re-reading this now and realizing it seems as if we were promising the kids puppies and kittens for breakfast and I kind of want to leave it that way). They walked in to the phlebotomist with a little skip in their step. And then it all came crashing down.
I’ll spare you the details but it took us two tries, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, to finally get the tiny vial of blood we needed from the girls. The nurses were beyond sweet and understanding while Marcus and I were beyond embarrassed. But, like my dad said after I told him about our disastrous medical intake, everyone knows the Tepaskes have arrived.