Friday, January 6, 2012

Thorn in My Side

Most of you have no idea that I used to be (and still am to some extent) deathly afraid of sutures.  Add to that, a fear of needles, and I'm a phlebotomists worst nightmare.

I discovered today that I have trypanophobia (an extreme fear of hypodermic needles).  I'm not sure where all this wonderful fear started, but I do have a memory of a nurse, once I was intoxicated for foot surgery by some dreamy cocktail of drugs, pulling my hand and inserting an IV against my wishes.  She was obviously not good at this procedure because, even being stoked on meds, it HURT butt-good.

I was so out of it, all I could do was pull my hand away and say "OWWWWWWWWW" (and I remember it coming out just like that:  one long sound).

And, the first time one of my best friends conned me into the Carter Blood Care trailer to donate blood?  All my co-workers came by the chair I was dying in to look at how ghost-white I was.  And to laugh.  All while I was near death, sweating profusely, and on the verge of passing out.

Honey, there ain't enough free orange juice and Oreos you can give me, post bloodletting, to repeat that fun little exercise.

So, having a hypodermic needle inserted into my body to deaden the skin, followed up with becoming a human pin cushion that is being sewn up, is my idea of Medieval torture.

In late 2010, I had to face my fears head-on.  I had two procedures that involved needles and one that resulted in eight sutures in my back.

Blissfully, I couldn't see any of the work.  But, I could feel the pricking of the needle and the wonderful pain that came from the lidocaine being administered.  And, the whole time, I kept thinking "If this stuff doesn't work, when the doctor touches me with that scalpel, I'm going to scream my stinkin' head off.  Then sue for malpractice.  And move to a small country where needles are strictly forbidden."

Do you see my potential for shooting up drugs going below zero percent?  Yes.

Fast forward to this week.  The sutures were out, an act that took every once of courage I had.  Yet I couldn't help but have this nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right.

About once a day, I'd feel my shirt or bra strap rub up against the wound site and I would get a sharp, pricking feeling.  I must have asked Mike and Nickels and Hooman to look at my wound about forty times, trying to figure out what was going on.  Each time, save one, everyone said all was well.  And, given that I couldn't see squat, I had to trust them.

Back to the "save one" statement.  That was Mike.  He said I had a "hair" coming out of the wound, which he removed without incident.  I should have gotten the magnifying glasses out at that moment and made him stare at my back until he extracted SOMETHING.

Finally, on New Year's Day, that sharp pain returned for the umpteenth time and I was DONE.  Someone (Mike) was going to figure out what was going on.  I wasn't moving out of the bathroom or putting my shirt back on until I had an answer.

And, you know what?  Turned out, one of the sutures had embedded itself inside the healing wound.

Yes.  You can say "&*^%".  I almost did.

I know for sure I added wrinkles to my eyes that day, because I was staring at myself, wincing in the mirror, with divots the size of The Grand Canyon staring back.  It hurt like crazy.  But, thankfully, the suture had been cut, so it was a clean removal, once the scab was removed.

Then, Mike looked at the other wound site and determined there was ANOTHER piece of suture leftover.  LUCKY ME!

This did NOTHING.NOTHING.NOTHING. to decrease my phobias.  NOTHING.

Bottom line:
1.  Don't chat up the nurse while she is removing your stitches, even if it is the only way to keep yourself sane while she does.  It would be better to pass out and have the stupid things removed before you are revived.

2.  If you think you have a suture left in your body, YOU DO.  Go straight back to the doctor and require him to see you immediately.  Don't wait it out.

Now, there really is a point to all of this, because I kept thinking of Paul having a "thorn in his side" in the Bible.  A thorn that he plainly wanted removed, but that God thought should remain.  And, for the duration of Paul's life, that thorn remained.

The Bible is non-specific about what that thorn was, but those who study such animals believe it might be a physical ailment.

I'm feeling you, Paul!

Clearly, I can't be compared to Paul.  He's a superhero of the faith.  But, I can get on board with wanting God to do something, begging Him to grant the wish, and having Him say "No.  Not now.  Not ever."

What we can't see, at the time of our pain, is that it will be redeemed for good.  We can't understand that our pain may help others.  We can't see the "big" picture, the way God does.

I'm thankful that my little issue was resolved relatively quickly, before it turned into another, more difficult problem to solve.

I find myself feeling for those who have a physical ailment that is constantly bugging them but that God doesn't seem to be paying attention to or that He has refused to remedy.

The bigger picture will eventually come clear.  It may not be on this earth.  It may not be in the time you wish.  But, you will see clearly, someday, that what you've gone through has a purpose.

Trust.  Obey.  Pray, without ceasing.  Ask others to pray with you.  Listen.  Learn.  Stop trying to control, but don't give up.

And remember, always:  God is with you.

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