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No pain, no gain: the case for needles

November 25th, 2009  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  1 Comment

588px-Hypodermic-needle_(PSF)Giving Nico his flu shots was easy. It was like Basketball Diaries. Dude practically chased the needle.

Dalia was not so easy. She’s almost four. She knows to anticipate pain. So her good mood yesterday afternoon, which came in part because she was excited to take a trip with her dad (taxicab!), ended with an agonizing shriekfest and forcible restraint while she got her shot. Not sure which of us was more traumatized, but it wasn’t fun.

It did get me thinking about whether plunging a needle into your kid is the only way to do this. So here’s a few pediatricians talking about how to give kids pain-free immunizations. The average child, they say, will have 28 immunizations before the age of 6. Why not make them pain-free?

Besides the nasal spray option, there’s a prescription drug called Emla that numbs the skin about an hour before any shot. Or an over-the-counter numbing cream called LMX-4.

But I’m not so sure it’s a good idea. The woman who bore me these children is a gas monkey/tube jockey in her day job. As such, she loves all sorts of anesthetics. But she also says that Emla, like any drug, could be toxic if given the wrong way–there’s a risk, even if it’s pretty small, that the drugs could be misapplied and poison the blood. Check this death in North Carolina: the girl was going for laser hair removal and died from lidocaine poisoning. If you think that’s a ridiculous reason to die, try explaining that you wanted your kid not to cry at the doctor’s office.

OK, so the death talk is overblown. But something about trying to numb your kid for an injection reeks of overparenting. Yes, the shot sucked while it was happening. She felt bad, I felt bad. But it was temporary. We got over it. We had ice cream. We were survivors. It was a good day.


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