Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Needles from Hell

As a former professional tailor who ran an alterations and dressmaking business plus a sewing school as well as managing two fabric stores, I have had my share of sewing needles, pins and the ouchies incurring by their use.

I had a permanent hole through the side of my finger from pushing a sewing needle without a thimble. I dropped a pair of sharp shears points down into my foot. Once I became under attack from flying straight pins when I was pinning a spandex dress for Miss Missouri and she sneezed!

My only concern when I or an employee of mine cut or pricked themselves was that we not get blood on the garment!

However, things have changed and my mind views needles differently now as they changed from being my daily companions in creating/changing fabric items to being objects or torture in a medical setting.

This month's delight consisted of a myleogram. I had an unknown doctor stick a 1 1/2" needle into my spine and inject some dye while he told me to "relax and stay calm". Now, staying calm would have been a challenge on the best of days, but for this test I had to be off of my meds that KEEP me calm (I have severe panic disorder).

I actually would have been ok if he had NOT told me the length of the needle, because I had some spinal injections two weeks prior and that doc lied to me and said he was using a tiny needle. Sometimes lying is good - VERY GOOD. Panic disorder makes you magnify everything, especially when you are in "panic mode". So of course I heard 12" long needle. As I'm lying there, waiting for the 20" needle to be jammed into my back, the clown tells me to stop shaking (by this time my whole body was trembling and jumping) so he wouldn't break the needle off in my back!

Visions of murder and torture blurred my vision. But, as I was not in the position to go looking for an impliment of torture for him, I resorted to "using my words" (isn't that what today's mommies say to their kids when they grunt and point to something instead of just doing what we did with our kids - hand them what they were pointing at and get back to our soaps?) and asked him "what part of panic attack do you not understand?" At that point he suggested that we "stop" until I could "pull myself together".

Audible deep breaths were the only sounds in the room - I swear this is the closest I have ever come to slapping someone who has a medical degree.

I sat up and suggested that he get his supervisor, which made him sputter and start speaking in some foreign language. Of course he walked out.
The xray tech looked like he was about to wet his pants.

Another doctor came in and said he was going to take over "if that was ok with me". We looked at each other. I took a deep breath. The tech backed up a couple of inches. I said that was ok, SINCE I HAD MANAGED TO PULL MYSELF TOGETHER. The tech made some sort of sound behind me; I'm not sure if he was coughing, choking or laughing.

Well, we proceeded and at least this doc did the lying routine about the size of the needle - too late, dude, I already KNOW it's huge and will leave a 4" hole - and he was quick and tried to repair the psychological damage his colleague had done to me (please acknowledge the single tear trailing down my cheek and my pale complexion as I relive this experience).

The rest of the test consisted of xray pics taken by the tech, who seemed to be a little nervous and moving exceptionally fast. The only mishap was when he dropped an xray plate that hit my right temple, leaving a bruise (my son thinks the first doc put him up to doing that). Then it was off to cat scan (I like that machine; I always envision tons of kitties running inside it making it turn) for more pictures and we were done.

The next day I was still nursing a big headache (from the dye, not the hit in the noggin) and trying to come to terms with the diagnosis - I saw my neurosurgeon about three hours after the test and he had the films. It seems that my back and leg pain aren't imaginary or due to my being FAT as my former boss from hell implied last year. I have a ruptured disc, two compressed discs, a slipped disc, and some calcified ligaments. He says that surgery is necessary - actually a series of microsurgeries, three or more.

Will I still have pain? Maybe - but I'm thinking positive...I'm positive that I have extreme back pain presently, so anything will be an improvement. Am I afraid? Yes and no; I'm a little afraid of the ouchie part and the fact that surgeons - even neurosurgeons - can make mistakes. But I'm positive that God has answered my prayers and sent me to this doctor.

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