I’ll tell you right up front; the answer is almost anything. It’s important, however, to go through exactly what situations a service dog might be useful. After all, “everything” doesn’t tell you how a service dog could help you, it just says it can. I’m going to list out a few different situations and how service dogs can make a significant difference in overall quality of life. You don’t need to be deaf or blind to benefit from having one.
No one likes having their blood drawn. Trying to explain to most children why someone absolutely must poke them with a needle isn’t realistic. It comes down to “no ouchies” which, frankly, is an argument I have a difficult time winning. With kids, you can’t exactly have a thorough discussion on the merits of whether or not these specific tests will provide adequate insight into their current medical problem.
I’m going to share what has worked for us. I hope it works for you. There’s no judgement if it doesn’t. Every kid is different! First, infants and toddlers under two. You really can’t do much for them except hold them down firmly with cuddles to minimize the stress and discomfort. Your focus will be more on the nurse. Ask yourself:
- Does the nurse have all of their supplies ready and accessible, while still having them outside of your child’s reach?
- Is the needle your nurse has pulled uncomplicated? It should look like a sewing needle, except it’ll be hollow.
- Are the test vials present? Sometimes nurses pull blood by syringe. That’s also fine as long as the syringe is ready to go.
- A second nurse will usually be present. While you hold your child down, the second nurse will either perform the blood draw or ensure the site they’re using stays completely still. I recommend highly to ask for a second nurse if there isn’t a plan for one to assist. It’s worth the wait.
It’s probably safe to say by the time you become a parent you’ve experienced this phenomenon. Your emotions become so overwhelming they cause a tightness in your chest and abdomen. “Tightness” doesn’t get anywhere close to describing the feeling. It definitely brings awareness of how the person was feeling who initially coined the phrases “heartache” and “gut-wrenching.” The discomfort is, quite frankly, horrible.
No one fully understands yet why this happens but the why is only tangentially relevant. The real question is, “how do I make it stop?” The physical pain is wired directly into how you feel emotionally. The only way to stop it is to calm the emotional pain. There are a couple things you can do to relieve some types of mental anguish. Keep in mind that traumatizing events like losing a loved one may not respond immediately or they may get better only in small increments over many years.
We’ve been through a lot with our son. He’s been admitted to the hospital a few times. We’ve been in and out of the ER to run tests only a hospital can run on short notice. So far we’ve come through with news that’s left plenty of room for hope. I’m terrified tomorrow’s going to be different. Now that we have a diagnosis, even though it’s a rare one, there are still going to be expected outcomes depending on how other children with the same diagnosis have developed.
These expected outcomes could all be wonderful. There are certainly other children with the SHOC2 gene mutation which have had feeding tubes when they’re young and have come off of them as they’ve gotten older (you can find Facebook support groups even for very rare diagnosis). There is a lot of room for concern, however. One of the main sources of concern for any of the Noonan Syndrome or Noonan Syndrome-Like disorders is problems with the heart. We thought his heart was just fine, but he’ll have to be followed by cardiology to make sure that doesn’t change.
PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is typically heard in the context of war veterans. You can develop PTSD from any experience that’s painful or upsetting, including caring for a special needs child. How does this happen?
- Long NICU stays where the child is on the verge of death.
- Babies so pre-mature they need constant 24/7 care to survive.
- Hospital admissions for life-threatening infections.
- Finding out your child has a life-altering and lifespan shortening diagnosis and watching them fight it every day.
There are many more examples. I wanted to name just a few to make my point clear. Almost every special needs parent is at some level of risk for PTSD. They are constantly exposed to situations that are extremely stressful where the results are completely out of their control. All the while, something bad is happening to someone they love more than anyone else in the world (except their other children of course).
This is a fairly typical problem, but takes on a whole different form when applied to the health difficulties of a loved one. When it’s your child, it can be completely overwhelming to think about all the different possible scenarios that could happen. Every procedure has risks. Every time your child goes into the doctor’s office they could get sick (and for many special needs kids, that’s no minor thing).
It’s difficult, when your child has medical difficulties, not to worry about what tomorrow brings. Good days take turns with bad ones. On good days you worry a bad day is next. On bad days you worry tomorrow will be worse. When bad days chain together it feels like it’ll never end. Our minds are talented at focusing on the negative. Bringing your thoughts toward the positive can bring a significant improvement to how you feel about your life.