Posts Tagged ‘Needles’

The Cure for What Ailed Me: Epilog

May 29, 2017


I empathize with you so much, little horse.

They wheeled me to the front door and then I was on my own. My family was there but nobody could really do anything for me anymore. Somehow, my body had forgotten how to walk properly. Everything was sore and my strength and coordination were still way off. It was embarrassing. I felt like a newborn foal. My bedroom at home was on the third floor and it was my sanctuary. Until I healed, stairs were too difficult and we worried that something would cause me to have to go back to the hospital. So, I slept on the couch for weeks as I got my sea legs back. My grandmother, Maw Maw, came up to keep me company.


My scar was exponential.

I am left with a fairly wicked scar. When it was fresh, it curved from between my shoulder blades down to my left side above my hip. It was pretty brutal-looking. However, my body grew and the scar did not so it is a lot smaller these days. It looks less like I wrestled with bears. That is an actual rumor that my wrestling coach joked about starting in seventh grade. Experiences like that made me self-conscious about the scar but also let me laugh about it. Body image is especially tough when you are young, even if you are a guy.


I have never had street cred.

Next to the moon-shaped scar is the scar from the place where they inserted the drainage tube for all my various fluids. It was gross to think about and even now I can feel my skin crawl. Sorry if I made the same happen to you. My family affectionately called that scar ‘the bullet wound scar’ because of how clean and precise it looked. Also, when the time came for them to remove the tube so that I could heal, it certainly felt like I had been shot. They grabbed and yanked the tube out of me and I felt a sudden, hollow pain. It was one of the worst pains I had felt at the time.

Slowly, I started to find my footing again. It did not take too long for me to start gobbling food down faster than I anyone else at the table. I was overcompensating for all of my past issues. I started to breathe clearer soon after that. The danger had passed.

Extra Stories and Fun Facts:


No No No No No No

Now some readers may remember my great fear of needless. When I went in for the MRI test to map my circulatory system in advance of the surgery, the nurse was very kind but very utilitarian with a brusque bedside manner. They were going to give me something to put me out for the MRI and they also had to inject the fluid that would make the MRI actually work. When I started to get nervous she told me ‘Don’t worry, it won’t hurt any more than a bee sting’. The problem for me was that not only was I afraid of needles, I was also terrified of bees. I was swarmed by a whole nest when I was younger. My mom leveled a hard look at this nurse and informed her that she was not really helping.


What do I have in common with him? Not much, thankfully.

They told me a lot of interesting things to try to calm me down in the days before the surgery. One of the more interesting things was my surgeon’s past history. They told me that my surgeon had been one of the surgeons who operated on Ronald Reagan after he was shot over a year before I was born. Of course, this impressed me when I was a kid. Now, I am just glad that he was successful with me. Regardless, he was a world-renown expert on the surgery and I was lucky that he worked at a hospital less than half an hour away from home.


I owe a lot to the most powerful institution in Baltimore past, present, and future.

Now, medical science is much more advanced than it was over twenty years ago. Doctors are able to detect Cystic Fibrosis much earlier. They are also able to detect Double Aortic Arch through many different tests (some of which I eventually got). Often, the problem is detected in the womb or shortly after birth and is corrected through surgery before the damage is done. In fact, most babies born with Double Aortic Arch usually turn blue from oxygen deprivation not long after birth. I went through what I had to go through and nobody really screwed up. It is one of the reasons that I support science-based medicine so much. It saved my life.

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Needles

April 17, 2017


What, you thought I would put up a picture of a needle? Nope.

I am going to approach a very difficult subject here today. My skin is crawling just thinking about it but it was a very formative set of experiences in my life and it is important to talk about. I will forgive anyone who walks away right now. Consider the title of this post a trigger warning, something I do not often do because I do not often need to do it. I will be talking about my dark history with needles today. I do not have many fears that could be considered phobias but needles are definitely one of them. I have hated and dreaded needles since I was old enough to form memories.


Any word from the warden?

When I was little, I remember when the pediatrician started to require blood work when I had my check up appointment. I was fine with stripping down and letting the doctor look me over and ask me questions. It was awkward but it was kind of relaxing in a way. Then they brought in a nurse/technician and I knew the jig was up. It was at that point that the waterworks started. I started to beg my way out of it like I was on death row and my own parents were going to pull the switch. My parents and the doctors were just doing what was best for me but all I knew is that it would hurt and the idea of it drove me crazy. I would sob, cry, and then resort to actual physical combat. I was probably a terror for those nurses and I am sure my parents felt bad too. By the time they drew blood, I was completely exhausted and an absolute wreck.


Imagine either the Kill Bill siren or the Psycho music here

It never got any better, either. When my youthful medical problems really started to gain steam, I had to go to a lot more doctors. Thankfully, this usually meant talking to a specialist and having them listen to me breathe. There was plenty of blood work too, though, and that drove me absolutely insane. Now that I had a double digit age, I could no longer really throw a fit but I was practically climbing out of my own skin as I sat waiting for those now familiar needles. I remember sitting in a Johns Hopkins facility after some breathing tests where I was assigned to a nurse to draw blood. Nervous as I was, this nurse acted like this was a routine activity while I squirmed. She stuck me with the needle once, twice, and then I got angry. She could not draw blood and I was suffering for it. Her supervisor saw it and swooped in and got it done. I laughed about it later but it was actually pretty devastating at the time.


I hated running because I was basically disabled.

A little bit later, they imposed a test that was every bit like some sort of medieval torture. I got to my local pediatrician’s office and I was in for one of the hardest physical experiences of my life. As soon as I got there, I was told that they needed to take some blood. Awesome. Thankfully I had grown up a bit and I did not fight it but it was extremely unpleasant. Then the excitement really picked up. I was told that I had to run laps around the complex of buildings, the equivalent of several blocks. For a young kid with breathing problems, this was super difficult. When the lap was over, I was told it was time to draw more blood. They stuck me with needles but I was tense and they could not draw and by then I had calmed down too much.


So tired. Send video games and pancakes.

So I was on my feet again and out the door and running laps again. I was running around with bandages on my arms. I was dead exhausted and I prayed for the running part to be over but at the same time, I knew what would happen when it was. It was probably one of the fastest heartbeats I ever had. Even now, over two decades later, I remember feeling a little like a wounded and hunted animal. When the second round of laps was over, I crumbled into a prone position and did not even put up a fight when they stuck me this time. Finally, the ordeal was over and I was sent home to recover but not before I got to have a big breakfast with my mom at the local diner. It was the usual place of bribery for a doctor’s visit.


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