Sep 25, 2016

1 Million Pokes Campaign #1MPokes

I  have a confession
As a mother, one of my most important jobs is to protect my child. So when I fail in that area, it's particularly burdensome. Yet I have failed to protect my son countless times. The guilt is overwhelming.

Imagine a scenario in which a bad guy enters your home and starts to physically hurt your child. Your very first instinct is to stop the injury, even if it causes harm to yourself. Can you even imagine just standing there and not stopping it, doing nothing? Or even worse, can you picture a scenario in which you actually participate by restraining your child while the bad guy hurts your child and you tell your child to stop crying? Sometimes repeatedly? Over several hours? 

I have.

We adopted Manny when he was 9 months old and 6 weeks later, he ended up in the hospital needing IV fluids. This started his very long and complicated history with IV needle sticks or “pokes” as many kids call them. It was not unusual for it to take several people attempting, multiple pokes and 3-4 hours to get an IV in.

Early on we learned  to value the Vascular Access Specialists who could almost always get his IV started on the first try.

Some of Manny's first words were learned during these poke sessions. I would stand there and try to comfort him, distract him and calm him.  But I could not protect him.

Clinicians, meaning well, will often try to comfort Manny by saying, “Mama is right here.” I understand what they are trying to convey. However, what Manny heard was, “Mama is letting this happen.” In fact, because Manny is frequently in the hospital and in need of an IV, he started getting quite angry with me. Afterall, I LET them do this to him. Repeatedly.

Sometimes they are short staffed and actually ask me to help hold him down. I cannot begin to describe the conflicted feelings. But mostly I feel helpless.

Yes, I am well aware that the poke is necessary to get blood for tests, to give fluids and to give IV medicines.  But it's nearly impossible to explain to a baby, toddler or child that “this is for your own good.” And it doesn't alleviate the guilt I feel.

Unlike my earlier hypothetical scenario, I'm highly aware these clinicians aren't “bad guys,” they are doing their job and acting in the best interest of my son. But that's where the differences end.

Because this has been so traumatic for Manny and for me, I started learning how I could best advocate for him. I've even discovered a wonderful organization called “Association for Vascular Access” or AVA. 

This organization certifies Vascular Access Specialists to become premiere specialists who ensure the right device is placed for the right patient by the right clinician at the right time. They work with manufacturers of these devices to develop and produce the best products.

This Fall, AVA's Pediatric division is rolling out  “A Million Pokes Saved” campaign. #1MPokes

Research: Create a vision for future research to contribute evidence that is currently lacking in pediatric vascular access.

Special Skills and Knowledge: Determine the groundwork of education and special skills required to preserve children's precious vasculature and how to share that knowledge with others.

Tools: Generate tools that help build skills needed to implement change.

: Develop collaborative relationships with institutions to raise awareness and champion change.

I might not be able to prevent Manny from getting an IV and “pokes” in the future. But maybe, AVA can help him and the millions just like him have less. That speaks to my mama's heart.