I now know what a vasovagal response is!

“Your son has a rather strong vasovagal response,” the pediatric doctor remarked to me this past Saturday morning at the hospital pediatric clinic.

Huh? Can you repeat that cheem word again?

“Fortunately, it’s just vomiting and pooping, in more serious cases in other kids, it sometimes leads to seizures.”

It was the second time in that hour that my Little D’s lips had turned cotton white and his dark face, green. I am not exaggerating, I wish I’d taken a photo to show you but I didn’t have my phone with me then.

Earlier in the week, I had brought Little D to an Endocrinologist at the Pediatric Clinic at NUH for a consultation to assess if he was growing normally and to check if his hormone levels were in the normal range. Little D is now officially the shortest student in his class. I have not changed the size of his clothes for the last two years. He hovers around the third percentile of his cohort in height and weight.

The doctor ordered a battery of blood tests (and an X-ray of his hand) to make sure that Little D’s growth and hormone levels were normal. Little D was VERY apprehensive about doing the blood test. He had a bad experience the year before, in Primary One, when he had a vaccination injection administered to him at school. He remembered it being so painful that a few minutes after the injection, he vomited saliva and rushed to the toilet to poop. He was very traumatized after that and kept telling us that he hated needles and injections. Well, this time, I was confident that with me around, he would have a pleasant experience, and if I let him watch Tom & Jerry on my phone while they took blood, he would be oblivious to the pain. After all, the nurses applied a numbing cream on his skin for half an hour before taking blood so that the pain would be further lessened.

So I was quite amused when half-way through the procedure, Little D’s lips turned white and the blood stopped flowing into the test tube. When the nurses said they needed to move to the other arm to take more blood, Little D protested and declared that he was going to puke. I dashed him to the washroom and plonked him onto the toilet bowl for him to have a good poop. He then rested until the colour returned to his lips before they proceeded onto the other arm. All in all, they took quite a lot of blood from him – I counted that they divided the blood into 4 – 6 tubes!

The terrible news came the day after. Because the nurses had to wait until Little D was rested sufficiently to take blood from the other arm, one of the blood test failed to show any results because the blood in that test tube had clotted, Little D would need to pop down to the clinic again to take just a little blood, just 0.5ml, to retake that final test. When I told Little D, he threw a little tantrum and demanded that Daddy order the nurses to melt the blood (he asked me what clotting was, and I replied “hardening of the blood”). Daddy had to assure Little D that this time, he would personally accompany him to the clinic to help him be brave about it.

On that Saturday morning T, Little D and I went down to the hospital together. We decided to visit a family friend first; she had suffered a major stroke and was warded in that hospital. While we were there, Little D asked me how a stroke occurred. So I started expounding on blood clots, brain damage and paralysis. I thought nothing about it until two minutes later when he grabbed my hand and said he needed to puke. “But…!”, I cried out, “Your blood test is not until much later! You are panicking too early!” But he ignored me and started heading towards the nearest washroom. As he gagged over the toilet bowl, a nursing assistant came to chide us for using the patient’s toilet instead of the guest toilet, but when she saw that he was unwell, she left us alone. After a few gags of saliva and morning breakfast, he promptly sat down on the bowl to emit the second half of his vasovagal response. Poor boy, when he was all done, it was time to proceed to the Children’s Clinic to get his blood test done. On the way, when Daddy asked him why he suffered a panic attack when it wasn’t even time to do the blood test, Little D replied, “It all started when I asked Mommy what a stroke was.” It was under this backdrop when Little D went through his second panic attack in the same hour, while the doctor took blood (yes, this time, it was a doctor who came down personally to take his blood). It was also when I finally found the term for this – a vasovagal response.

Anyway, to cut the long story short (apologies for the pun), Little D does not have any hormone problems, but then again, the not so good news is that therefore, based on his current height and weight, and based on estimated calculations (taking into account his parents’ height and weight measurements), Little D is projected to grow to a height of just 161cm!! My tall, dark, handsome and charming Little D will now only be dark, handsome and charming…. Well, three out of four isn’t too bad…