I work in a high volume pediatric office. I am mainly responsible for all the blood draws and you can imagine how challenging that is with children. Although I have had a lot more trouble with adults in my 14 years in medicine. One of the things I like to do when I am sticking a lovely needle into my patients arm is small talk. I know it sounds crazy, maybe a little weird, but it works most of the time. I get them distracted and comfortable with me while I relate to their daily lives. Although, I must admit its fun seeing their intent eyes staring at the needle as I ask them what grade they are in. There is a look of confusion and fear on their faces at the same time. If they could run away they would (some do).
The other day I had a 10-year-old come in, and just like everyone one else, he looked very nervous. I was preparing to put a large needle into his arm and collect several vials of blood. I asked him if he liked his class at school? He quickly yelled “Yes. I love my class; especially my teacher”! I did not expect the yelling but I learned a long time ago that you never know how people react under distress. So I smiled and just rolled with it. I asked him why he liked his teacher so much? As sweat beads were starting to form on his head, he said that she was a good teacher because she was always there for him. At this point I had the tourniquet around his arm was looking for the largest vein I could find. Trust me; that is the hardest part of the job. Those little things like to hide. I then told him as he intently watched every move I was making, that it sounded like he had a very good teacher and that he should be grateful. I then asked him to tell me more. I wanted to keep this otherwise regular conversation going because I found the vein that would be victim to my sharp needle.
He began to tell me that every day he went to class, he felt like that is where he belonged. He loved that when he would have big tests coming, his teacher would make sure he felt comfortable about it. At this point I have the alcohol swab open and cleaning his arm. His voice is getting louder now and I start to notice his foot bounce up and down like he is putting out a fire. I asked him to tell me more of why he trusted his teacher so much. I have never heard a kid talk so highly of a teacher before. He began to tell me how she made him feel comfortable. That anytime he had a question she was always there with a smile and a gentle voice. She would always give him the answer he needed. He continued to say she never said anything bad to him and only encouraged him. As he was saying this, I had taken my sharp needle and placed it in his vein. The foot tapping suddenly stopped and a sense of calm came over him. This is generally normal by the way. Most patients relax once the needle is in. It was going to take me a little bit to collect all the blood I needed, so I asked him another question. Thinking I could throw him off and see if he really loved his teacher this much I asked him about tests. Every kid, and adult for that matter, hates tests. Some are good at them and some are not, but generally everyone hates tests. So I asked him about the time during tests? The teacher can not give you the answer. Is she there for you during the test? Still intently watching the needle in his arm and the vial filling up with his blood, he said “Yes. I feel she is still with me”. A big smile fell upon his face and he then said “she is still in the room with me”. She always tells us before test that when it’s over we will get to have a treat. I finished getting my multiple vials of his blood and slowly took the needle out. He looked at me and said that was not too bad after all and he thanked me. As he left my lab I saw him showing his brother his new, cool Scooby Doo bandaid with excitement. He said to his brother “Mrs. Matthews (his teacher) was right, it did not hurt”. I thought to myself, there goes another happy customer.
Mark 4:35-41 tells us of the story of Jesus riding with the 12 disciples across the lake. The scriptures tell us of a huge storm that began to come upon them and they got very scared. I noticed 2 things in this story. First, Jesus said to them before getting in the boat “let’s go to the other side”. Second, He said “why are you still afraid? Do you not have any faith?”. Jesus had promised they were going to get to the other side, yet they became scared during the storm. I looked at the storm like the little boy’s test. The little boy faithfully knows that even during the test, his teacher is still in the room. She is still with him. Jesus was still with the disciples in the boat. If only we could go about our days when tests come and the storm gets strong and know in our hearts that Jesus, our teacher, is still with us. He promises we will make it to the other side. I love how the little boy’s teacher said after the test there would be a treat. So does Jesus in Matthew 16:27. For the son of man is going to come in his fathers glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. I pray that I learn to have faith in God during my tests as the boy had faith in his teacher. Jesus is still in the boat with ,and when we get to the other side, there will be a glorious treat.