Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pain in the neck

The subject of this post is "Pain." Actually, more specifically, it is about how you learn to tolerate pain with the more medical procedures you go through. And you survive intact because the pain is short-term. A certain amount of pain is the price to pay for getting the medical condition in the first place. And it's tolerable because you know it's for your own good.

I thought of this subject while I had a long black tube placed in my nose on Friday, and extended into my my throat, where the otolaryngologist was able to snap pictures of the throat ulcer that he found down there.

I was wondering if the nose hose was any worse than the time the inexperienced nurse tried to put an IV in my arm at Vassar Hospital and had to dig in with the needle and twist and move it until she located the vein?

Or was it worse than the time the physician injected the burning, radioactive dye into my breasts - the ones I used to have - so that the surgeon could find the lymph nodes during surgery?

My purpose of this post is not to brag about the pain I have endured like I am some military hero shot on the battlefield while defending my troups. But just to marvel over the amount of pain and discomfort that you learn to endure, especially when you trust that it is meant to treat and cure you, and not being used just to satisfy a physician's sadistic impulse.

You learn to sit still and be good. To think of breathing, in and out, in and out, and wonder if the doctor ever went through it himself. You realize that most medical procedures causing pain are over in less than a minute, and you count the seconds until this one is done. Because you know that if you dare move, the doctor will have to do it all over again. And once is more than enough.

Anyone can grin and bear it for a minute. But while my pain tolerance has improved, it is not limitless. In fact, as I will tell the otolaryngologist on Monday during my throat biopsy, if this pain is to last any longer than a minute, anesthesia better be involved.

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