The last time I woke up with a stomach so queasy, I was pregnant. There are solid scientific reasons why that could not be the case this time. (Although God does have a sense of humor, and is sovereign…..) There is a much more simple reason for the queasin…..
I was afraid. Not just stomach flopping nerves… I was scared- crazy scared. As in psycho stream of consciousness that I awoke with that sounded like this: “I don’t know if I can do this without screaming or crying and I don’t want to do it either way, and what if I am that screaming, crying woman at the doctors’ office? I think I’ll hide under the bed cause its not really so bad not to be able to walk for 2 months.. besides i think it’s better today anyway, and Jesus? why don’t you heal me now? That would be good. Why don’t I trust God to get me through this. I suck and am a huge baby, what kind of example am I setting for my kids, get out of bed and get on with it….”
Yeah, told you: psycho.
Yesterday, I had a follow up appointment with my orthopedic surgeon for the knee injury that happened 2 months ago. It’s still craptastic. It’s time to do something a little more radical than rest, ice, elevation, leg lifts for quad strength and becoming one with the heating pad.
At my last appointment, the doctor offered me a steroid shot. I panicked and said no, and I’ve regretted it ever since.** I didn’t say no, because I’m morally opposed to medical intervention, or because I am afraid i’ll be kicked out of the major league of mothering for steroid use. (It’s a different type of steroid:P) It’s because I have a needle phobia.
Not just a “needles make me squamish” type feeling. I have a full on, panic, blood pressure dropping, pass out and scare loved ones, phobia. It’s textbook. My symptoms are classic: it starts with anxiety from the moment I know I may meet a needle of any type. If I know for 2 weeks, I feel moments of panic off and on for 2 weeks. At the doctors- I have: Yawning, (an attempt to get oxygen) nausea, sweating, anxiety, light-headedness…. and sometimes passing out. Often after the procedure is done and I think I am fine.
Not fun. It’s: Embarrassing. Humiliating. Debilitating. (I avoid treatment. I have dental work from my TMJ that I keep putting off because the thought of a needle / procedure in my mouth is really more than I can handle. I’ll have to be sedated.) it’s serious.
Here’s what bugs me: I spent 13 years as a pastoral counselor. I’ve studied, researched and understand phobias. I am totally cognizant that it is an irrational fear. KNOWING doesn’t change it. UNDERSTANDING doesn’t change it. Honestly, I think it makes it a bit harder to deal with. I heap guilt atop the fear. I feel like I should know better.
Avoiding it also doesn’t help. It just makes me feel stupid.
Yesterday, I had to make a decision. I could either a) go to my apointment and refuse more care that could help the pain level, or b) Give it a shot. (So to speak:P) (Can you hear the “Jeopardy theme playing, I did all day- because of course, my appointment was for 6:00pm. Nothing like prolonging the agony and phobia.)
This weekend is my inlaws 50th anniversary party. The next morning I leave for our favorite vacation spot ever. Our Traverse city, Mi timeshare. I HAVE to be able to walk on the beach. I’s therapeutic for me. I need to be able to function and help at the party.
I need to be in less pain. I am getting desperate. I’ve never been so debilitated in my life. I healed faster from all three c-sections than I have from this running injury. (Yes, c-section I’m fine with…. the shot/iv is the worst part- I’m a true freak.)
So yesterday, I decided that…. Pass out or not, I was getting the shot. I kept myself busy all day, trying to cope with the swelling fear and panic attacks. (Audio books and a twisted stitch mitten knitting pattern helped;) I didn’t runaway to the mall. (I was tempted.) When traffic was torturous on the way to the appointment, I didn’t see it as a convenient way out. I kept driving. I was on time.
And then, I waited. (I may have taken a Xanax, too.) And I waited. And I waited. until 6:15. 6:30. 7:00. I prayed to have the appt re-scheduled. I prayed that God would heal my knee while I sat there. I may have annointed it with forehead sheen.(Closest thing to holy-oil I had.) I tweeted stupid things. I avoided googling steroid shots. (Horror stories- not helpful. Iphone- good as long as you use it well.)
I prayed more. I waited. (more.) 7:15. 7:30. The panic ebbed and flowed like waves on a beach. I talked (too much) to the receptionist. “The doctor is running behind.” She said. I told her “I’m a freak and am scared to death.” “I’ll pray for you, if I hear screaming” She said, after admitting she’s a freak too. “Pray whether you hear screaming or not, ok? Cause I need it.”
At 7:50 they called my name. For X-rays. Of which I am not afraid. (Although the tech surprised me by saying that some people are.) She kept me chatting. That helped.
Then I was in the exam room. Waiting again. WHY on Earth didn’t God make this at least a LITTLE easier, for me?” I have no clue. By the time the doctor walked in, I felt like I was in adrenal failure. (ok maybe not.. but it had been a long, panic filled 2+ hour wait.)
H reached out his hand: “Hi, Tracey, How are you doing?”
“Nervous and I don’t want to be here.” I replied. But, I smiled in an attempt to hide my extreme freakness.
“Me too. Whats up with us being nervous today?” He replied.
NOT helpful. He’s lucky I didn’t pass right then. I could have gone down faster than a victorian fat chick running a marathon in a corset…. I told him the truth. I’m a needle phobe and desperate for pain relief. I told him I thought I needed that cortisone shot. I told him that if I asked him to stop, I would need him to, immediately. He agreed. I asked for topical numbing. He agreed.
And then, we looked at the x-rays. Stress fractures are healing nicely. Good.
The exam went on. But not long enough. He poked and prodded where my knee hurts the most. He called in a nurse and asked for the “needle free injection kit” winking at me. He said “do not look”, and put everything to the side. I didn’t look. (I usually do. And it doesn’t help.)
I had to sit on the edge of the table. Also: didn’t help. (I usually lie down, helps me not pass out.)
I flinched when he wiped my knee with alcohol. “Ok, you’ll be fine.” He said. “We’ll see.” I replied.
Then, I made the most desperate eye-contact with the nurse, ever. “Talk to me, k? About anything.” I jneeded human connection with someone who was not stabbing me with a needle. No pressure, though. Poor nurse.
She didn’t break eye contact the whole time. I have no idea what she said. Or how I replied. It was one of those time- vortex things when you are there.. but not..it also passes slooow,, but fast …I was an emotional vampire sucking strength from her via eye-contact and chatter. It helped. She may need therapy, now. But, I’m hoping that what I paid for that shot, figures her comp in too:P
The doctor talked, ( Which helped.. kind of…but I’m an eye-contact person..and looking towards him put me at risk of seeing the needle. NO WAY.) I told him, thnx- but you just pay attention to what you’re doing.” He laughed.
I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I didn’t pass out. I did however, at one point when the pain was pretty craptastic ask like a three year old: “Can we be done now? Is it almost done?”
And then, it was.
I did it.
Part of the steroid shot is lidocaine. So I felt pretty good when I left. Not just physically, either. I felt like a champion. I DID IT! I didn’t let the fear win, this time.
I stopped for a cupcake and a mocha on the way home. to celebrate. I also thanked God for a receptionist who prayed.. and for a nurse who didn’t run when I sucked strength from her like an emotional vampire via eye-contact. I thanked him for a doctor who didn’t treat me like a big baby.
I didn’t thank him for the 2 hour wait.
At the moment, my knee feels like a baseball bat was taken to it. But, I knew that could be the initial response. It takes a day or 2 for the cortisone to work and the tendons to chill after being needled. If this shot works, it will help 1 of the three spots of extreme pain I’m having, and it will be worth it.
Here’s the thing.. is this just a post to complain about my knee and garner sympathy? Well, of course that’s part. But it’s also to say, that if you’re a needle phobe, you’re not alone. And we can get through this…and do this— together.
Dear Lord, I pray for anyone reading who feels like I have do and did.. that fear is winning and that I suck because I let it… I pray that you’d be near and help us.. heal us.. mind and body, oh , and Lord.. PLEASE make this shot work.. that would be nice. I love you Lord… amen.
Todays questions for comments:
- What are you afraid of?
- Do you have a phobia?
- How do you cope?
- What helps?
- What doesn’t?
- When was the last time you faced it down? How did you celebrate?
- When was the last time you didn’t, and how did you feel?
*** after yesterday’s appointment I think that my denying the shot last time and being respected in the decision by the doctor(which he did) actually helped me to trust him this time and helped me to go through with it. What I’d thought was a major LOSS in the phobia category was quite possibly a in, and part of the process.
** I appreciate continued prayer- my next appointment is in 5 weeks and I’ll most likely be getting a synvisc shot into the knee joint to help with the meniscal pain. It should be just a bit worse than this one. But I think I can do it! (let’s pray I don’t panic every day between now and then.. that would suck:P)