Thursday, October 15, 2009

Operation Blood Pressure Cuff De-Sensitivity Training

Because when you have a child who is special, you need special operations.

Zach doesn't like having his blood pressure taken. Ok, he hates having his blood pressure taken. Maybe it's the giant cuff slapped onto a small arm, the weird tube attached to an odd-shaped bulb, the simultaneous sound of suction and tightening of the cuff, the not knowing if it will ever stop squeezing. No big deal because rarely did we need to know Zach's blood pressure. But now it's important to know and the doctor wants a record of it.

Last check up we, the doctor and I, tried unsuccessfully to takes Zach's blood pressure. There was quite a bit of resistance on Zach's part so the doctor and I said soothing, reassuring things and took turns putting the cuff on our own arms with smiles on our faces indicating it is safe AND fun to get one's blood pressure taken. Zach didn't buy it. We gave up when Zach cowered in the corner protecting his arms. As the doctor pointed out, any reading we managed to get would be higher than normal and therefore inaccurate.

I promised the doctor we would work on this at home, maybe enlist the help of the school nurse, and get Zach comfortable with the cuff. Desensitize him, make this seem so very normal. The next day I visited the school nurse's office and explained the situation and the plan. When Zach visits her office, she will attempt to take his blood pressure. Initial resistance is fine, this may take some getting used to, but consistency is key. The nurse agreed to be part of this mission. I asked where I can get an old cuff to use at home and she told me she'll send one home in his backpack. Super!

At home, Jake, Andy and I randomly pick up the cuff and place it on our arms. We squeeze the bulb and listen to the sounds. "Cool, this is fun!" we say. Jake does a great job wearing the cuff and acting as if it's the neatest thing ever. Zach warms up to the idea and we manage to get the cuff on his arm for a few seconds and I consider this a small step in the right direction. When we're done, I leave the cuff out, highly visible, in the family room, on the ottoman. See, nothing scary here. Just a blood pressure cuff lying around.

All part of the plan.

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