Some days I’m so angry, and they stick me with another needle, and another, and another, and I just grit my teeth and take it.
“Anything,” I tell myself, “anything to get well.”
Some days I just stay in my room, I forget to eat and I don’t shower, and I cry a lot.
I’ve had so many needles placed directly into my nerves, or up through my vagina and into my abdominal wall, that I now posses the horrifying knowledge of what those things are “supposed” to feel like. I understand the difference between when the epidural goes in properly and when the needle strikes my spine. I can tell a botched IV an hour before my arm swells and the nurses take me seriously. I can feel when a physical therapist has gentle hands, and I can sense if you don’t care if you’re hurting me. And some of you don’t.
A few weeks ago I went to to have some of my spinal nerves destroyed with radiofrequency generated heat. I don’t want to hope because hope has hurt so much, but I come in anyway, grasping at straws. They go to put the line in, and even though I know I have “good” veins – clear to see, close to the top of my skin – they try to place it in my hand and fail. I grimace as they fish around; I’ve felt worse. They pull the needle out and try again, only this time, they hit something. I jump and cry out, two things I never, ever do, and I try to tell them.
“It’s wrong, something’s wrong!” I yell, and they keep sticking me.
“Take it out! It’s wrong, I know it’s wrong, take it out of me!” I’m practically screaming.
“Sometimes it just hurts more in your hands.”
Sure it does. They don’t know me, and they don’t know if I have a low pain tolerance, or any idea what this is supposed to be like, but I do. “It’s wrong.” I glare. “Take it out of me.”
They do, and when I feel my heart rate start dropping back to something close to normal I ask for a glass of water.
“We’re going to have an IV in you. We’re just about to hydrate you.” The doctor says.
I can feel the heat behind my eyes as I look at him. “That’s lovely, but I’m asking because I’m nauseous, so it’s get me a cup or have me vomit on your sterile table, your choice.”
A minute later I sip the water, tell them to try again, and bite down hard on my tongue.
They get it this time.
They wheel me over to the procedure room, where I’m drifting in and out, but not out enough that I can’t feel them yank my pants off. I should be embarrassed, but everyone in Los Angeles has seen me naked and stuck me with a needle at this point. There is nothing left to be ashamed of. There is no pride left to lose.
Anesthesia does odd things to you. I dream the same dream over and over, and in it, I am alone in a spotlight in a dark room, screaming out again and again,
“You’re hurting me! You’re hurting me!”
But no one hears me. Or if they do, they don’t believe.