Step-ball-Change Into Butterfly Needles
I am a theater person. I was introduced to it in kindergarten, majored in it in college, and have taught it at every educational level. As a result, words that would never pop into someone’s head when describing me are “doctor” or “medicine.” Those words are reserved for my amazing sister, an actual physician.
Yet here I was, willing my face to convey the greatest of confidence as a training nurse walked into our home.
Before this moment, my daughter, then 10, was a regular at the pediatric hospital due to her hereditary angioedema. The flares of Ladybug, as we call her, had become so frequent and unpredictable that I would keep a “hospital bag” packed for the moment we had to leave. To alleviate this, her doctor prescribed Berinert infusions at home.
At home? Like how the nurses do it in the ER? Those nurses were rock stars to me. The way they could find Ladybug’s veins and get the IV stick on the first try was legendary. They go to school for stuff like this. Not only am I not a nurse or a doctor, I hadn’t even played one on stage.
Yet the training nurse walked us through how to constitute the medicine, find a vein, clean the area, and give the IV stick. And remarkably, on the third try, I did it.
From that moment on, whenever Ladybug needed an infusion because of her symptoms, I could do it on the first stick. When people found out what I was doing, they would say things like, “Wow, I can’t believe you even know how to do that,” or, “Oh my gosh, you’re not even a nurse.”
At first, I adored the compliments, but it started to get to me after several weeks. They were right. I’m not a nurse. It shouldn’t be this simple for someone like me. The nickname that was given to me by family and friends, “the one-stick wonder,” started to feel heavier.
Soon, as Ladybug’s flares became more frequent, so were my stick attempts. One IV stick turned into two, and then three. After a while, I found myself unable to find a vein so quickly and even hesitating to administer the medication. I doubted my ability because of what I wasn’t.
“I can’t do this anymore,” I finally told my husband in the privacy of our bedroom. “It takes me too many times. It doesn’t take the nurses at the hospital this many times.”
My husband put his arm around me. “You’re not a nurse,” he said. “And that’s what makes this so remarkable. Sometimes it takes you more than one time to get it, but you still get it, and she gets to stay home, and that’s what matters.”
I realized that the only reason I had started to doubt myself was because of the harmless compliments of others who were telling me I wasn’t supposed to be good at such a task.
Two years have passed, and even though my daughter is on preventive therapy medication, I occasionally have to administer Berinert. Sometimes, I get it on the first try; other times, we pause for a hug because it may take me a few more times. That’s OK. Our goal is to keep Ladybug out of the hospital, and sometimes, we succeed. (And sometimes we don’t, and that’s OK, too.)
As caregivers, we never imagined we’d have to be physician’s assistants, nurses, or technicians, but when it comes to the people we love, we are perfect for the job.
Angioedema News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angioedema News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to angioedema.