Sure Shot

The first three or four times I tried it, it wasn’t so bad. Environment can be everything. In a hospital room, on a hospital bed, IV’s and catheters, nurses and doctors, the med cart, nothing there is designed for comfort.  Learning how to do it was nnecessary for Liam’s discharge so those first four times of doing it myself just didn’t seem as difficult. Not until we got him home. Not until I tried it on our couch, in our living room, somewhere that Liam should feel safe from things like this.

No, it was that 5th time I tried doing it, in the comfort of our home, in front of our TV, stretched out on our own brown couch that brought tears to my eyes. That made me sick to my stomach. That made me hate, actually hate a medicine that I knew Liam needed in order to stay healthy. It’s been almost three weeks of doing this now and it hasn’t gotten any easier. Twice a day for the next 2 to 5 months and I’m sure I’ll never get used to this.

I will always have a hard time giving my son his shot.

It’s only a 27 gauge needle, just about as thin as they make them and barely as long as your thumbnail, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I hate the whole process. Drawing up .2ml dose, finding a bit of fat that hasn’t yet been pierced or bruised, wiping the area with alcohol. The build-up to the main event. To try to be gentle and gingerly about it will only backfire I have learned. You have to just stick that needle in there. A 45 degree angle to stay above the muscle but under the skin, we want fatty tissue for this. Thighs, a bit of the belly, those big beefy arms on my boy, a pinch of the flesh before the prick and a release just after the plunge, his eyes go wide for a second while his upper lip curls in a jolt of quick pain.

Pulling back it’s over as fast as it started and it obviously pains me more than it does him because almost every single time Liam will be back asleep only seconds after it’s over while I obsess over whether this one will bruise. This isn’t a knock-out drug at all, the return to sleep has nothing to do with narcotics. Sadly Liam is too accustomed to being poked and prodded. I’m just not at all accustomed to doing the prodding.

The blood clot begins below the knee and travels high enough into his abdomen and under his intestines to be hidden from the view of the ultrasound. It is a big one, the result of a major disruption to his clotting factor when Liam was in septic shock. His own blood basically poisoning him. The central line it grew around never even had a chance as it was only  in a couple of days before the clot took over and the line stopped giving a blood return for labs. The lovenox in these shots is what will help to break that clot up, hopefully preventing a pulmonary embolism in the process.

He needs this medicine and I know that. Hours before or after I have to give this medicine when the intensity of having to hurt my child in order to help him fades I feel a sense of pride that I am able to give him what he needs to get better. That pride gets forgotten when I take the syringes out though. That’s when the nerves, and frustration set in.

Like I said, it’s been three weeks of doing this and I haven’t gotten used to it yet.

I hope I never do.



  1. I am sorry Eric. I truly, truly am and I do understand, completely. I was the one giving Zoey her ACTH shots for 8 weeks, 2 times a day. And not one time. Not one single, solitary time, did I not feel sick to my stomach. Especially when I was less then perfect at it. The pulling back to ensure it was right and say perhaps pulling back not so gracefully and the needle starts to come out of place.. That always made me feel warm and fuzzy. In fact, thinking of it now kinda makes my stomach churn.

    The things we do. Crazy life for sure.

    Sending love to you all and hoping life is feeling a tad bit less chaotic since you arrived home.

  2. You know, nearly eighteen years ago, we had to give ACTH to our daughter Sophie. She was three months old, and what I remember of it is the macabre ritual it became. It’s scarred me forever, I think. I am sorry for this — sorry that you have to endure this.

  3. I’m so sorry. I know how much I’ve hated every time my daughters have needed shots or stitches, times when I’ve left the room and my husband has had to hold a girl down for a shot into a wound. I’ve never had to do it myself. I would hate it too.

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