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İFebruary 2007

Carol Jane Remsburg




Fear The Needle






It's been a busy week.

In the face of a looming major snow storm, the two hour trek to the medical center specializing in the discography wasn't to be put off. Hubby has RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), spinal stenosis, and apparently several severely herniated discs in his lower back. The trip for the test was to determine just WHICH surgery will be required (decompression or fusion)--not, IF surgery was going to be required.

What worried my spouse about this test was the needles they were going to stick in his spine. Needles, especially the painful kind, are frightening for my hubby. This same man would rather face a pack of rabid dogs, a violent armed intruder, or even face our teen drama-queen on full torrential tear alert--than those needles.

Somehow, he screwed up the courage to face the day--allowing me to drive (and he so HATES when I drive) the two hour trip from the 'Shore across the Bay Bridge amid snow, sleet, rain and a general threatening weather mess that hadn't quite decided what it was going to do.

We arrived early, over an hour early 10 AM. They took him back right away as the previous patient didn't show. We still sat back in the little room for two hours together. His fear was fully communicated to the nurses who bantered with him back and forth. His blood pressure rose high and the machine they have to take it now wouldn't register it. So they had to take it the old-fashioned way, by hand & pressure wrap with the stethoscope. Then came the IV attaching event, his veins opted not to come out to play that they ended up finding one on the back of his hand that worked after two other failed attempts.

Finally, at 12:33, they came for him. The procedure doesn't take more than about ten minutes. Long enough for me to get lost but then find my way back to the parking garage to the truck, call my MIL with a quick update while I smoked a cigarette and get back. I was back in the general waiting room when one of the nurses came looking for me. He was awake but fiesty and said they couldn't either control him or watch him and they wanted me to. So back I walked to the little cubicle we'd waited in.

There he was bent over trying to retrieve a cracker he'd dropped on the floor making a mess. I sat him back up, cleaned up the mess and tried to feed him little pieces of graham crackers from a new pack they gave me. That and the ginger ale.

He was hysterical. The Versed they dosed him with, something like a Twilight Sleep, knocked him out but he would be able to respond if he felt pain when asked. They told him that only about 5% of patients actually remember anything from the procedure. He wasn't among that 5%.

For the next 45 minutes I had to keep convincing him that the blanket in his lap he kept picking at wasn't a cracker and even then, he was trying to put an invisible cracker into his mouth. He wasn't very happy when I put small bits of a REAL cracker in his mouth. Then there was the little tussle over the ginger ale--that mini-can with the straw. Finally he drank some, then decided to blow bubbles with it like he was three and just discovered how fun THAT was. He giggled. Then went on to tell me about "works of art" and then how if we incorporated videos from the Discovery Channel with links to the bottom of the sea, we'd sell more lamps on eBay (he makes lamps folks) for $5,000 a piece. Oh, and that we needed 'to go pies' of that anesthesia...while still busily picking at that blanket for the cracker. Then he got upset when he found out the two packets of graham crackers he'd already eaten weren't saltines.

"Damn, I knew they tasted funny," he said. He'd have no more of them.

Then he wanted UP and OUT. I advised he wasn't to get up yet, and had to block his attempts. Fortunately for me, I'm able to do that and he wasn't in any real shape to tango.

Then the nurses were back and he regaled them with tales of John Wayne movies, kinda sorta on topic, considering El Dorado where John Wayne has spasms of short paralysis (it's the needles again), but none of it was coherent. The nurses were great, I signed some more forms, they explained everything to both of us knowing he wouldn't remember a bit of it. He was as tipsy as a man at his bachelor party.

Finally it was time for him to get up and try to walk. He had a definite list but remained upright. I was following closely to catch him should that list turn into a fall. No falls.

The nurses allowed me to walk him out of the building, up the long elevator and stuff him into the truck for the ride home.

He promptly got on his cell phone and began calling people, his BIL and his mother. He has no recollection of those phone conversations either, but he was pretty clear about me taking the wrong turn (which wasn't) in leaving the medical facility. Then, he promptly went to sleep after I finally got his seatbelt on him and he dozed on and off for the next hundred miles or so until we were halfway home. I stopped and picked up some fast food lunch as both of us were starving and hadn't eaten all day.

He ate and perked right up, then admitted he pretty much didn't remember anything up until that point since before they put him out. He was amazed over how easily and painlessly the procedure had gone when he'd spent weeks worrying and fearing it.

Now we face the next appointment. The will decide the surgery and the date. The next visit after that won't be so pain free and will have a long recovery.

Still, there is FEAR THE NEEDLE!


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