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Musings and Ordeals

Ally got me thinking about something...

Although I have never particularly liked doctors or physical examinations, there are parts of my body which I am lot more protective of than others. I will quite calmly submit to the proddings of the ob-gyn (obviously I am not thrilled by them, but I am able to relax and to co-operate and cope with the whole thing OK).

Not so when it comes to my eyes and the back of my throat. A visit to the gastroenterologist or the ophtalmologist makes me want to run for the hills. Or hide where they will never find me. I want toco-operate and be helpful and nice but somewhere between the space of thinking that and them actually approaching me you can usually find me trying to climb walls.

Even the very description of my grandmother's cataract surgery was enough to make me feel sick with nerves and vow fervently that no one was going to be holding my eyelids open with metal thingies and pointing lasers at me if I was conscious to witness it.

A few years ago I developed some really bad hardburn and a lot of abdominal tenderness and pain. Eventually it came to pass that a gastroscopy was ordered to determine what was going on with my innards. I was horrified at the thought, in a vague kind of way mostly because I did not know what it would involve precisely and had been lulled into a false sense of security with words like over very quickly and local anasthetic.

The night before this delight was scheduled to take place I was sitting with my grandmother on the living room couch, just chatting and she was asking me whether I was scared and I was trying to put on a brave face etc. when she, being the paragon of tact she usually is, came out with the following:

*Oh yes, they stick a rubber hose thing down your throat into your stomach. Your grandfather was meant to have that done. But then he saw it being done to one of his workers, and three people had to hold that man down, his eyes were leaping out from their sockets by the time they were finished, so your grandfather refused because he thought it was the most awful thing he had ever seen. And they said, but you must otherwise we can't examine you and your grandfather said *then I will die unexamined*.* There was a short silence, of the kind that often follows one of my grandmother's testimonials, during which she nodded in a satisfied way and i looked on in horror and disbelief, before my mother jumped in with some statement like *oh it's a lot different nowadyas*

THe next morning my mother drove me to the hospital and she had many sound words of advice like *just close your eyes, relax, take a few deep breaths and say to yourself *my mother loves me very much and I'm a wonderful girl and it will all be over before you know it*.*

So got to the hospital, and I requested that my mother not be present, she promised she'd be sending me good vibes from the doorway, the doctor took out some kind of spray and sprayed it into my mouth. The spray, I learned, was the local anaesthetic but it had no tangible effect beyond making my tongue go numb. And then I had to lie down on my side on this table and they put a plastic cube with a hole in the middle (kind of like a big lego piece) into my mouth and then they opened a cupboard and took out a length of black rubber hose, looking mostly like the grand ancestor of all tapework and not something I necessarily awnted anywhere near me thank you. And they were explaining to me that there was a tiny camera in it which would allow them to look and see what was happening in my body but I wasn't really focusing on that so much as thinkging wshit that's one big motherfucking thing and if I didn't have this very powerful social conditioning baout keeping quiet and not making a scene I think I would have been jumping off the table and running away.

What followed did in fact probably take a minute but it was the longest minute of my life. There was someone holding me down and someone stuffing this seeming giant down the back of my throat, and it was pretty much most of my nightmares handily rolled into one. I was torn between trying to be quiet and good and between wanting to run away. I was spitting and vomiting and I would probably have been screaming except that I physically couldn't. Occasionally I registered words such as *oh, there is the duodenum* but really I was mostly focused on the fact that I was in physical and mental torment, and retching and coughing and dry-heaving and that my poor aesophagus was so contracted in my distress it was getting some serious abuse.

Was I feeling the positive vibes my mother channeled? Nope. I was jsut feeling a rubber thing stuffing itself where I was convinced no rubber thing was meant to go. And was I thinking *my mother loves me and I am a wonderful girl?* Hell no. I was thinking
*My grandfather was right my grandather was right mygrandfatherwasrightmygrandfatherwasright*

And then eventually it was over.

This was a very formative event in my life. It made me utterly convinced that no one was ever going to do anything like that to me again while I was conscious, and has certainly made me think twice about overdosing, and overdosing and seeking help for it.

I couldn't swallow properly for two days afterwards, and I still feel emotionally traumatised. There was a while when I thoguht the horror of it would never go away but it did. Probbaly via the workings of the same gimmick that suckers women into forgetting the pain of childbirth.

But hey it did allow doctors to ascertain that I had a hiatus hernia (probbaly stress induced) and that my aesophagus was so badly damaged by the heartburn that it would take months to regenerate and they gave me a zillion drugs, and for a while orange juice was public enemey number 1, and when people on aol spammed me with queries as to waht I looked like I could tell them that I had dark hair, dark eyes and a hiatus hernia with some authority.

So I am sure it was all a good thing really.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
coalproximity
Jan. 9th, 2004 02:38 pm (UTC)
eeeeeeeeeeek I hope I never have to go through anything like that, or that you ever have to go through anything like that agian!!

a.
67threnody
Jan. 9th, 2004 04:17 pm (UTC)
Ew, ick, ugh.

They really should knock people out for that kind of thing. Or at the very least, completely zombify them with massive doses of valium. Is there any reason why the patient has to be awake and conscious for that kind of procedure?

And medical professionals, before putting their faith in the term "local *anesthetic*", should be required to experience the same procedure so that they can know firsthand just how anesthetic it really is.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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