Out of the ER, Into the Fire

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Can we talk for a minute about the paradox of medicine? The things that seem almost cruelly funny. Like getting an IV—aka a huge needle inserted into a vein, typically more than once, sitting in the most germ-ridden place on earth—so they can give me morphine to dull the pain of the shot I’m getting to dull the pain.

An old John Cougar Mellencamp song gets stuck in my head—you know the one I’m talking about. If you don’t, look up his songs and see if you can guess. Write your answers in this space: ____________________________

Sorry, I digress. Must be the pain meds.

They put the IV in my hand, of course, because that’s where it freaks me out the most. I have a mega-hee bee jeebee thing about back-of-the-hand veins. I’m cringing while I write this. Seriously, when I was 16, I had a girlfriend who had really loose skin on the back of her hands and one day she showed me that she could literally pick up the veins on the back of her hand.

I threw up.

We broke up.

Moving on.

Because it’s important that you understand just how diabolical hospitals are. They led me to an operating room. I’m walking kinda like Frankenstein’s monster, arms out and stiff, because I don’t want to jostle the IV. My new nurse says it’s okay to relax.

I reply, in my most respectful tone, “Let me jam this into your hand and you relax!”

Let’s just say we won’t be dating anytime soon.

But on the plus side, she stopped telling me to relax.

YA Author Tom Hoover's Hospital Saga ContinuesI mentioned diabolical a moment ago. The bed/table I have to lay on for the procedure looks like a massage table. A place of utmost comfort. I love massages and they’re about to take all my happy massage memories away from me.

They are truly evil.

And smug about it.

I ascend the table/bed/torture apparatus, lie on my stomach, and put my face in the little round hole. It’s too small for my head to fit comfortably, and it’s poking me in the eye. I tell them, and their response is, “Yeah, we hear that a lot.” Then they hold things underneath the table and make me look at them.

Because they can.

They also strap me down. Now I feel like the Wicker Man—the original, not the horrible Nicholas Cage remake. Dude.

One of the nurses grabs my arm, clamping down directly on a rash area. I scream. It feels like finger-wide ice cold needles that have been electrified and then turned into giant Rottweiler teeth and he’s shaking my arm to tear into the good part. Honestly, it would be better if they just set me on fire and danced around my table brandishing knives and chanting some demon ritual.

The nurse says, “Oops.”

Cue the doctor.

“Okay. We’re going to wash and disinfect the back of your neck. Then we’re gonna get you feeling better.”

LIAR, I want to scream. But he’s about to slide a needle past my spine, so I say thank you. And give him my lunch money as they disinfect me.

“Give him the morphine,” he tells a nurse, sounding like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein. The scene when he has to act out the word “sedative” while the monster is choking him.

“Now hold perfectly still,” he says.

I feel his hand on my back, pressing down.

And he puts the needle in.

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