Adoption Physicals

We completed the ‘physicals’ step in our adoption home study last week. I made a comment about being freaked out by needles in my last home study-related post, and I wish I could say that the experience went easy-breezy, but it didn’t. It was more queasy-MEasy.

After a short wait in the waiting room, the door to our left swung open and we heard someone call out, “Palmer!“. I wasn’t feeling too nervous at this point, but I was relieved that they were allowing us to go back to the panic room, I mean, examination room together.

I tweeted this Instagram photo while we were waiting for the needle, I mean, nurse to come in:

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 8.44.54 AM

Shortly after that, we heard a knuckle knock-knock on the door and the nurse came in to get the party started. I could feel my pulse quicken as she began to wrap the death gripper, I mean, blood pressure checker around my left arm. “118 over 83. Whew. Maybe I’m not as nervous as I thought.

After that, she handed us little plastic cups and pointed to the restrooms. I won’t go into detail about this part of the process, but I will say that I am currently smiling as I type this thinking about Kevin wandering the hallway with his sample because he didn’t know where to put it when he was done. (Don’t worry, I introduced him to the little two-sided cubby door in the wall- ha!)

After that, another nurse came in to draw our blood.

Re-cue: Anxiety.

I casually-with-a-internal-side-of-very-seriously mentioned, “some friends said I should ask for a butterfly needle”, as she snapped the tourniquet around my upper arm.

I concentrated on breathing. I forced a smile, and when she turned away to prepare the needle I tried to use mental telepathy to get a message over to Kevin: “I don’t think she got the butterfly thing! Should I be saying something else about the butterfly thing?!“. He just mouthed, “You’re okay. It’s gonna be okay.

Needle nurses never have an easy time with my veins. They hide, they roll…they fight that needle like they’re allergic to it. The last time I had blood drawn, it took three different nurses and six different sticks. No joke. Total swiss cheese moment, for realz.

It took longer for my tube to fill up than Kevin’s, but it only took one stick, and it didn’t hurt that bad, so I was pretty smiley at this point. But then all of a sudden, my arm started hurting from my elbow down to my hand. I asked Kevin if his hurt, and when he responded, “no“, I yanked my sweatshirt back off to see what was wrong.

The area around the needle hole was swelling with a quickness, and needless to say, I was instantly allergic to smiling, too.

The doctor came in a second later and I immediately went into full, “what the heck is going on with my arm” mode. He apologized, and told me that needle must have gone all the way in and through my vein. He also told me to apply pressure for the next five minutes, and was happy to oblige when I made him look me in the eye and (truthfully) repeat the words, “you are not going to die“.

So here we are, a week later. I’m still alive, but man is my arm sore from the elbow down.  I’ve got a hard bump the size of a bird egg next to the sticking point, and I’m still black and blue (and yellow and green), but I’m thinking things will be back to normal with it soon.


The next step of our home study involves reading a book called The Connected Child and taking a 10-hour adoption course online. Yay! Reading and writing! I’m definitely not allergic to that.


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  1. JoAnn says

    I am glad that is over! That happens to me every time I have blood work…. drink lots of water before you visit next time… 5 glasses if you can! No coffee! It does help, sometimes!

  2. says

    Layla, I’m a little late to comment on this post, and I know you’ve gotten good advice already, but I just thought I’d share this tip that may insure that you get a butterfly needle if you have to get blood drawn again. (I’m the breast cancer survivor who has to have multiple lab tests all the time…) When the lab appt is made, let them know that you will need someone there who is experienced at using butterfly needles (you can also clarify it by saying it is the type used on pediatric patients). Not all lab techs have much experience with them, and if they don’t, they usually don’t want to use them. (My phlebotomist friend taught me this.) When you arrive for your appt, remind them again (with a smile) that you will need a lab tech who can use a butterfly needle. Then, if the lab tech says you don’t need one because your arms are big enough or whatever, just say that you appreciate their skill, but you have had very difficult experiences in the past with pain, arm swelling, etc and you called ahead of time and made sure that it was noted on your records that you require a butterfly needle. Hopefully they will get one at that point, but if they don’t have one available, you can thank them and tell them that you will reschedule. Usually, someone is around who is used to drawing blood with butterfly needles. If they say it will take longer to use a butterfly (because the blood flows slower through the tiny tube), don’t let that discourage you. It may take a few seconds longer, but it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad! Honestly, if you have a lab tech who uses butterflies a lot, you may not even feel anything! The needles in butterflies are really tiny and might just feel like they put their fingernail on you, if that. They really, really do make a difference! I hope this helps, Layla. Also, before they begin the draw, consciously drop your jaw and exhale with long breath while dropping your shoulders at the same time. (Practice that ahead of time…in the waiting room, even.) That is a technique I teach preggos to help with labor pain. Relaxing the jaw and shoulders will help release tension in the upper body and can lower stress & cortisol levels. That will help relieve pain and will increase pain tolerance at the same time. Stress hormones increase pain (from whatever source), so learning how to release and relax will go a long way toward helping relieve pain and tension. I hope this helps! I really care about you a lot. I’ve been a follower for a few years. Yours was the first blog I ever followed and is the only one I keep up with all the time. My niece met you at Blissdom a few years back and said you were as sweet as I thought. :)

  3. Carol Adams says

    I am just reading this and am concerned.
    As a intensive care RN with 30 plus years of experience drawing blood this should not have happened but I do hope that your arm looks better now. I was very concerned that you might have a clot in your arm Pressure needs to be put on the puncture site after the blood is drawn which allows the blood to clot around the puncture site so that you do not bleed into the surrounding tissue. This can occur with a butterfly needle too but it’s a smaller bore needle so not as likely. Please let me know that your arm is better now. sending hugs!!! :)

  4. Jen says

    HI Layla,
    I love reading your blog. Congrats on your adoption journey. It’s a crazy ride! We adopted our son from Russia in 2007 and we are now adopting domestically and waiting to be matched.

    I’m writing because I want to share something with you that I wish we would’ve known long ago because we’ve always wanted two kids. If you think you guys might want another someday, consider adopting two now. We are having such a HARD TIME adopting a second. We’ve been waiting two years this week to be matched with a birthmother. We’ve been shown to many birthmothers and we’ve heard time after time is that we’ve made the “short list,” however almost every birthmother seems to want to place their child with a childless adoptive family. So we continue to wait and wait. Now I wish we would’ve adopted two children the first time. I loved giving our son our full attention, but I hope it’s not at the cost of a sibling. (Our first adoption took exactly 9 months.) :) So I just wanted to share that….I have no idea what you guys are thinking! :)

    Adoption is a wonderful way to have a family and you’ll be surprised how much your child will be like you. :) I think families can be made spiritually too – my son was always my son – just born across the world in the Arctic Circle. Who would’ve thought? He even looks like us. Knowing this has given me faith that we will have another someday, and it will be the perfect child for us. That’s why we have this wait. (weight) He or she just isn’t here YET, but already having one has significantly prolonged the process this time around.

    Good luck on your journey. Take in every moment you guys have as a twosome because soon enough you will be a forever Trio. :)

  5. says

    This has happened to me before. I had an IV put in before a surgery and it missed my vein and started filling up under my skin. It was the worst searing burning pain…pure and utter agony!

  6. Melanie says

    First off, I’d like to say I’ve LOVED your blog for quite some time now, but this is the first time I’ve ever commented! I was THRILLED to hear that you have to read The Connected Child and take the online course.!! We adopted our daughter when she was 19 months with the understanding that she had autism, received her diagnosis at 2 1/2 yrs. and got her into IBI therapy for the next 3 yrs. Only to discover that she has an attachment disorder. (Could very well be attachment disorder and autism, but they are so alike it’s unreal). Unfortunately, I had to go searching for info. on my own after years of struggles and the therapy not helping as we had hoped. I came across the book by Karyn Purvis, watched her on you tube, fell in love with Christine Moers at and are finally seeing some improvements!!! Now, I certainly don’t want to frighten you!! We planned on adopting a child with special needs but any child who deals with loss no matter how young will be impacted in some way. You on the other hand are going to be so well prepared!!! Had I known about Karyn Purvis 7 years ago, I don’t think our precious girl would have had so many difficulties! The strategies for autism are the complete opposite as the strategies for attachment!

    Is the online course based on Dr. Purvis’ book? If so, is there any way for others to take it online? :)

    Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child by Beth O’Malley is another great resource!

    Thinking of you and Kevin as you go through this process together…it’s worth all the pain and bruising on your arm! :)

    Melanie from Canada

  7. Elizabeth says

    God Bless you on your adoption journey…. We are in the process of finalizing the adoption of our second child, born on 1/30/13 , I am constantly amazed at how God works… Both our children have the same birth mom and birth dad…. We waited only 10 months for our second….. Adoption is truly a gift from God… After all Jesus was adopted by Joseph : )
    I understand what you go through with needles … I too have to let the nurses know to use the butterfly needle – I have very small veins that like to roll and avoid needles as well. : ) It certainly is part of our “pains” in the adoption process…. Being paper pregnant can be challenging at times – However, after going through it now a second time, I do have to say that the wait was harder for me. After the Homestudy was completed, I found myself having to keep myself occupied as to not focus too much on when and how the placement and adoption would happen…. My prayers are with you during your journey ….. has some humerous shirts for prosepective and adoptive parents……

  8. Chrissy says

    Oh so sorry to hear about your experience. My veins roll and dodge as well, but the needles don’t bother me. I was in Jr. high school when my mom was in nursing school one hour from our home. On days when we had to go to the orthodontist (also one hour away), we’d miss the entire day of school b/c we’d accompany her to nursing school. I always volunteered my arms for the student nurses to practice on. Maybe that is why they roll now??? Maybe I’m like a druggy b/c I’ve been pricked so many times???

    Anyhoooo, I haven’t been to your blog since you moved…life is busy. But I wanted to share our story of our first adoption physical so you could have a laugh…at my husband’s expense.

    I went in first (no shared apt. where we were!) and had a relationship with my Dr. and her staff since I’d been seen a handful of times over the 5 years of living there (during veterinary school for my husband). Hubby, on the other hand, was never sick and never in need of a Dr., so this was his first visit for the entire time we’d lived there. I’m not sure why or where the idea came from, but I got a bee in my bonnet and mentioned as I was leaving, that my husband was uber modest and totally unaware of what to expect and they sure could have fun with him.

    Let me back up…I teased Hubs a time or ten that maybe he’d have to have the old high school physical-cough-type check up or maybe even a rectal exam. He never believed me, but those seeds of complete fear were sown and I really didn’t even know it.

    Okay, so he went in and the nurse took his BP and vitals and stuff and then handed him a paper towel and said something along the lines of, “Sorry, but we are conserving resources, so if you’ll just drape this over your lap when you undress would be great! K…thanks and the Dr. will be right in.” Wellllllll, he didn’t want to be caught half undressed so he quickly hit the buttons on his shirt while his BP quickly began to rise. Both the nurse and the Dr. busted right back in laughing and saying that it was all a joke. He was grateful, mightily relieved and had a really great attitude about it for which I am grateful. Too bad the second round of adoptions brought street-smartness to my book-smart husband, b/c he just smiled and said, “I’m not falling for anything!”

  9. says

    I just hopped over here and happened upon your adoption page. Let me say congratulations!! I’ve not used Lifeline but have heard wonderful things about them. We have adopted 3 children. It was a wonderful, different experience each time. All 3 children are so different, yet they meshed together in a unique way rather quickly. It has been an amazing adventure. I wish you the best! Congratulations!

  10. says

    Oh, I hear ya. When we had our adoption physicals we had to all get TB tests. I had to hold my children down. It was horrible!!! The Connected Child is so good! You are going to devour it!

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