Chronicles of Sadie

Sadie and the Plight of Medical Stabbings

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I am not proud of it. No, it is actually something I am somewhat ashamed of. I couldn’t help it and I think that was the source of greatest frustration from the whole experience. Confession is good for the soul, so here goes: I was a—(insert long, drawn pause that leaves you waiting with bated breath—go with me on this one)—sissy shot taker. There, I’ve said it! That’s right, I was one of those wimpy individuals who became woozy and usually either threw up or passed out when my skin was punctured by a medical needle.

Now you should know that I’m actually very tough and masculine—just ask my manicurist. Seriously, I grew up working long and tireless days outside in the blazing summer heat. I serviced greasy equipment. It would be nothing for me to gash open my hand when a wrench would slip off of a tight bolt. Blood didn’t bother me at all and to this day, I’ve never had stitches—even when I probably should have.

But there was something about the doctor’s office that had my mental number. Some call it “White Coat Syndrome.” I call it self-preservation. I think the seed of anxiety was planted when I was very young and I received a booster shot for kindergarten. I remember dreading it so much that I tensed up and flexed every muscle in my body as they held me down to inject the medicine into my arm. Yeah, that made for quite the amount of soreness, no doubt exaggerated and exasperated by my adolescent antics and mindset. The damage was done and from that point forward, a shot was certain to send me “hurling” over the edge—of the proverbial boat, that is.

When I reached some level of teenage maturity (now there’s an oxymoron), I no longer dreaded the shots consciously. I knew my physical reactions were silly since I endured much greater pain on a regular basis. But I couldn’t shake it! I remember getting an MMR shot during school in eighth grade and returning to Algebra seemingly okay and relieved that I had conquered my fear. Just then, like a science fair volcano gone wrong, waves of nausea began rolling over me culminating in one huge and very loud dry heave. HUUUAAAHHHH! Thankfully, I was spared actual vomit, but imagine how funny I must have looked after gagging so loudly for no apparent reason. This was my plight.

It was not until my adult life and the process of seeing my wife go through three brain surgeries that my anxiety left me. Yep, that’ll do it. These days, between shots for international travel and having my blood drawn for cholesterol checks, getting stuck is no longer a problem. In fact, while they’re doing the sticking, I usually try to get them to go ahead and give me all the immunizations they’ve got. Why not? They’re good for what ails ya! Oh, how times have changed.

But then came Sadie. If you are a parent, then you are no stranger to the fact that from the moment that precious, delicate baby enters the world, some medical professional is after them with dozens of needles. Poking, prodding, drawing blood, and generally torturing them as often as possible.

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I can remember taking Sadie to the pediatrician when she was about six weeks old and watching the nurse “prep” her little thigh for several shots. I felt so helpless and useless—like I should warn her or something, but she only speaks Klingon, so that was a bootless endeavor (a little Olde English for ye.) When that evil nurse grabbed hold of those chubby little legs and stuck that absolutely huge needle straight through her perfect skin, I fully expected to see the needle come out the back side of her leg! The gentle lay of her emotional landscape instantly earthquaked into a natural disaster area as Sadie no doubt wondered to herself the lamentation: “Da Da, why did you let them stab me?”

Now I don’t necessarily recommend calling inoculations “stabbing” in front of your healthcare professional, especially if you live in a high-crime urban area. But between Sadie and I, we know that’s exactly what it is. Stabbing. And though I don’t get queasy or pass out, I can’t help but feel her pain as I too know the sting of getting stabbed.

I hope you don’t know where this is going, but it may be a bit too obvious. We could reflect upon the fact that our heavenly Father allows us to experience pain for our greater good and protection in the long run. Sure, that’s a good thought. For me, the concept really hits home when I consider the fact that my Father knows the pain I’m facing. He was there! He was tempted. He was tired. He was even tortured, experiencing stabbings far beyond my little cultural cuteness.

I remember the first time I didn’t get sick from a shot. My dad went with me and looked me in the eyes the entire time the nurse did the stabbing. It may sound silly and a bit trite, but the truth is that Dad’s prayerful joining with me in my experience produced strength that has now lasted for years. Such is true of Jesus. Always listening. Always sympathizing. Always offering strength in the midst of weakness—and sometimes offering weakness in the midst of strength.

And yes, the hardships are sometimes necessary to inoculate us against airborne dangers we will face in the future. Even Jesus found the will of the Father through the “stabbing” experiences of difficulty and obedience. Hebrews 5: 7-9 (NLT) says, Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” 

So though the temporary stabbings of the medical community seem unbearable to little Sadie at present, I know they are producing a type of protection and strength within her immune system that will benefit her for a lifetime. And at the end of the day, I can sympathize with her anxiety.

For I know it all too well.

Just as I am known all too well.

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