After the ER
“Potential risks include pain or discharge at the injection site,” my doctor for the day says. “There’s also a chance of excessive bleeding and, of course, paralysis, since we are inserting a needle so close to your spine.”
Because that’s what you want to hear on a Tuesday morning, when you’re sitting in a hospital room with a disgusting, patchy rash running down your right arm from shoulder to wrist (with a spot on your thumb), wondering how one human body can actually house so much pain.
Seriously, I hurt in places I didn’t know I had.
Which is the whole reason I’m considering becoming a paraplegic in an effort to “somewhat” dull the pain. I am back at the hospital, my new home away from home, preparing for a “nerve block,” which is an epidural at the base of my neck.
This is what the doctor tells me before he scuttles out of the room like a crab in a lab coat, leaving me to ponder my fate.
The only other time I have ever even heard of an epidural is for pregnancy. And my friends who have had one still talk about the pain of childbirth. So is the pain better after you get one? How do you measure that?
Should the amount of pain I am in really be the subject of a drawing room debate? I’m picturing British aristocrats with brandies and cigars bandying about theories of pain management that aren’t happening to them.
“Tut, tut,” one would say, “why bother with an epidural? Dash it all, what have we really gained.”
Note: In my fantasy, all of these men are James Mason with their upper crust dialed in at full volume.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, my team of nurses are talking amongst themselves about me as though I am not present in the room. Rah-ther.
“Has he signed the consent form?” Nurse 1 asks Nurse 2.
“No one’s given him a consent form yet,” I answer.
I get a look like neither of them are sure I’ve spoken or who I’m speaking about. They dismiss me with a nod and go back to their conversation. Flip through their papers.
“It says here, sedation,” Nurse 1 says, pointing to the place where it apparently says that. “Did they tell him that? Has he eaten?”
“He was told,” I assure them. “He hasn’t eaten since 10 o’clock last night.”
“STOP THAT,” hisses Nurse 2.
Once they get “his” paperwork and vitals sorted out, I’m transferred from the prep room to the pre-procedure room. It’s nice to have such a variety of places to sit while nothing is happening. I’m sharing this room with an older gentleman who I make the mistake of saying hello to.
Years pass and eventually he is taken away to whatever procedure he was there for. I staunch the bleeding in my ears and continue to wait.
And wonder what a needle in the spine is going to feel like.
I wiggle my toes, just in case I’m saying goodbye.