I’m Getting The Goddamned Shot

You really haven’t lived until you get a mammogram while suffering from sciatica. When the technician expressed amazement at my mammalian fortitude I replied through gritted teeth that I was entirely focused on the aching pain in my leg and back, and couldn’t be bothered by a mere 1,000 foot-pounds of pressure on my breast.

As it turned out, the technician had just gotten The Shot for her sciatica and was on her tenth day without pain. She was ecstatic. This conversation was fortuitous because over the weekend I had conceded to the pain and had cracked open the door in my mind to the notion of letting someone stick a needle into my spine.

Since I was little I have had a galloping, all out terror of anything having to do with a syringe. I know that it is stupid and irrational, but such is the nature of phobia. It all began with our family doctor who would display the needles he intended to give me in his big glass ashtray on his giant desk, where he also kept his pipe. While he and my mother discussed the weather, I would stare at the syringes.

My phobia has lead me to do all kinds of stupid things in the name of avoiding shots. When I was about 10, I spent an afternoon at my best friend Carla’s house, chasing a chipmunk that had gotten inside. Both her parents worked, so we were unsupervised, and that is how it came to pass that I finally cornered the chipmunk and then triumphantly grabbed it off the screen door with my bare hand.

Terrified, the chipmunk sank it’s little yellow teeth into my finger and would not let go. I stood screaming and waving my hand around, trying to flip the thing off, which I was finally able to do when it loosened it’s jaw. The dazed chipmunk slammed onto the ground and scampered off while I studied the 4 deep puncture marks that had gone clean through my index finger.

Surveying my bloody finger, I weighed the possibility of contracting rabies versus telling my mother that I had been bitten by a wild animal. I opted for rabies, sucked up the excruciating pain in my hand and set out for the fields with Carla and her neighbors, the Ladd brothers. The four of us spent the rest of the afternoon tearing around in the pastures trying to provoke the bulls into chasing us. I never did tell my mother that I had been mauled by a chipmunk, and obviously, I didn’t get rabies.

In my twenties, My Royal Consort and I decided to go backpacking in Mexico for a month. Naturally, the annoying “safety people” who enjoy shots started yammering about how we should get immunized for hepatitis and tetanus. We were planning on traveling with some friends who are both physician assistants, so it was simple enough for them to get the medicine from work and inject us both in the comfort of our own house —except George refused to give me my shots because he knew I was such a head case about needles. This was exactly what I hoped would happen. My Royal Consort insisted I get the shots from my own physician. He wouldn’t get off my case until I promised I would make the appointment, which I did promise to do, with my fingers crossed behind my back. Obviously, I didn’t get Hepatitis or tetanus.

The little matter of pregnancy was another occasion for shots, but once again, I adroitly avoided all of them. I went to a midwife instead of an obstetrician, ate really well and trained in a gym for the birth, which was a very good thing because Thing 1  took two days to be born. I did have the baby in the hospital, but between me, My Royal Consort, and our rock star of a  midwife, we kept the evil minions of caesarian section at bay until the baby was ready to be born.

When I got thrown off my horse and broke my sacrum and a few ribs, I was alone. I knew I had done something bad because I couldn’t get up. I dragged myself the length of a football field, into my friend Dana’s house, while Buck stared at me guiltily from a safe distance. At the time, my thought was that if Thing 1 would  catch the horse, untack him, and then drive me home, I would climb into the bath tub, take some Tylenol and everything would be fine in the morning.

My friend Dana felt otherwise and called the meat wagon. As the evil paramedics prepared to take me into the dark lair, Dana kept urging me to get some pain medication. There was no way that was going to happen unless they administered it via a gas mask, so I ignored her. Obviously in shock, I shivered and shook and cracked jokes each time the ambulance bounced pell-mell over a boulder or forded a raging stream on its way to the hospital.

Once at the hospital, I continued to refuse medication until the dark lords of X-ray softened me up on their metal table. Unmedicated and unhinged by all the tossing and turning, I called them every name I could think of that had the prefix “fucking”. They were unmoved. I was mortified and finally allowed someone to start an IV, which to my way of thinking is even more horrific than a shot.

To add insult to injury, my orthopedist, who I had only just met after being introduced to him by my horse, breezily told me that I would be injecting a blood thinner into my stomach each day for the eight weeks I was on bed rest. He had already annoyed me with his stubborn insistence that I spend the summer in bed, so this did not go over well. We compromised when I agreed to take rat poison every day and have a traveling vampire come to the house to take blood. He clearly thought that I was misguided for refusing to inject myself in the stomach, and to this day he persists in tempting me with the prospect of real and meaningful pain relief delivered via a needle.

Each time I see him, he asks if I’m ready for my shot. No, not yet, I say. I’m going to try hanging upside down in an ugly contraption. Or maybe, I’ll throw out the insanely expensive mattress we bought a year ago and replace it with something even more decadent. He just smiles and tells me that he has an “open door policy“, the subtext being “…for when you come to your senses.

Emboldened today by the lovely imaging technician, Lynne, I went home and made the appointment before I could get too scared. I then told My Royal Consort so that I couldn’t back out, because once I say I am going to do something, it’s as good as done. Before I had that conversation with Lynne this morning, I was in the throes of an anxiety attack, brought about by the realization that I had run out of road with this chronic pain situation and would have to go to Plan B. The thought of it was making me sick with fear, and I had been slopping around all morning leaking tears of self pity.

The appointment is in a few weeks and I cannot freaking wait.



1 comment

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  1. admin says:

    Hey, No one has commented here, but I will, because now I can relate the story of how it went with the GD shots. I took the tranquilizers an hour before to control my irrational terror, and, as it turned out, the doctor is an artist with the needle! And, he’s nice, and very good at being distracting. The epidurals definitely take the edge off…no more sciatica, which is the half the battle. I can actually think about something else besides pain. If someone going through this experience stumbles on this, I wish you healing and inner strength. XOXO, Mistress Pixel.

  1. I Want To Live In Dude Land | The Flip Side says:

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