Little wasps and bees
Little wasps and bees
We are in the Allergology Department at the Children's Hospital in Ljubljana. Today we start off in a small room at the end of the corridor. The children sit down in a circle after being divided into two groups called the “little wasps” and the “little bees”. The tiny room is filled with patients: the little children are only four years old, while some are already teenagers.
The space in front of the tiny room’s door is crammed with parents who stand next to each other as they watch their dear children get the first injections. Later, the parents wait in the corridor, while the two nurses and the doctor in the room carefully monitor the children’s reactions to the shots. Today is the very first day.
On day one, each child receives four shots, on day two three shots, then two and finally one last injection. The last two days will be the most draining, because the dose of venom injected starts working on the children and their body needs to fight harder to produce enough antibodies.
One by one, the boys and girls leave the circle and sit next to the table, where the nurse has prepared everything she needs for the procedure. Since I am the Clown on Duty today*, I have also prepared everything I need for my procedure – a pink piglet called Rudi.
I bend over to the first child. As soon as he rolls up his sleeves for the shot, I put his other hand on the piglet and whisper to him: “Whenever it stings, squeeze as hard as you can!” Just as the injection is given, Rudi lets out a loud squeal. “Oh, what a madhouse!” says the nurse as she laughs. Everyone starts laughing, which creates a feeling of closeness between us. From that point onwards, everything runs smoothly.
After the shots, we stay in the room and wait for any reactions to the medicine. For this stage of the procedure, the waiting part, the clowns on call always keep an extra ace up their sleeve. We use this time to play, being aware that the doctor needs to be able to screen carefully for any overwhelming reaction to the substance. Should this be the case, the child needs immediate care.
My dream is that years from now, should these children have to deal with wasps and bees, they can think back of my piglet Rudi rather than of allergic reactions, injections and pain. I truly hope that the thought of wasps and bees will bring to their memory the sound of buzzing pink piglets. If this happens, I have done my job well!
Eva Š. Maurer (Healthcare clown and Red Noses Ambassador)
* In the RED NOSES “Clown on Duty” programme, healthcare clowns work closely with medical staff by assisting them and the children during immunotherapy procedures in the Allergology Department of the Children's Hospital in Ljubljana.