Wednesday, December 31, 2003

This is Spinal Tap

This one makes my stomach churn just looking at it. It's a photo of my spinal tap. Here is a close-up. Sheesh. It may be a minor procedure but you know, they stick a needle into your spine and draw out fluid. And that ain't natural! They bid you lie down all the rest of the day and not get up till the next morning. And this I did, but my back still aches and is sore and I have this dreadful feeling that I was punctured in the spine. It's kind of viscerally unacceptable when that needle slides into your spine. And like all the other procedures you are supposed to remain calm and hold still. In my case a dull but deep ache shot through my pelvis and down my right leg. The doctor said I was bound to feel something but it is unlikely any nerves were damaged. "It's like sticking a fork into a pile of spaghetti," he said, "You're unlikely to sever any of the noodles."


OK now here is the part that is going to make some of you question my doctor's ability. I tell you in advance that I am very good at standing up for myself, and very capable of being critical of other people and procedures. You all know this. It's a "strength" that is a fault. So believe me, if I had any reservations about this doctor I would act on them. But at this point he makes me feel very comfortable, I like him, and I can tell he is bright, interested, and knowledgeable.

Anyway, so the fun part of the story is that after they stuck me, and the fluid started coming out, I could feel the drops on my back, running down my crack and into my underwear. I guess when it comes to medical procedures, the unexpected upsets me, and this is the last thing in the world I expected. To my mind, spinal fluid is more precious than blood, more precious even than breast milk. And here it was, running into my underwear! But I remained calm: "Doc!" I said, in a restrained but urgent voice, "it's dripping down my ass!" He grabbed a collection tube and said it was OK, that he would still be able to get his sample. I thought: I know you'll get your sample, I just don't think Calvin Klein should be getting a sample. So then the office assistant took the picture. All that red stuff is just iodine, but in looking like horrific dried blood, it gives you a sense of my mental picture of the procedure. The doc said that in 25 years, no one had wanted a picture taken of them having this procedure. He wants me to send it to him so that he can use it in his literature, the stuff that is supposed to calm patients. I don't think anyone is going to be calmed by this picture. And he should crop out the iodine, I think, because it looks like blood. I told him that, and he said to just send the whole picture. He is a visual artist, and has some nice images that he made, hanging on the wall of his waiting room. So I decided to trust him to crop and present the image as he sees fit.

Then I felt some more drops going down into my underwear! He had filled up the one vial and needed to get another!

I know, I know, I know: You or I, or anyone else, would have had those two vials ready, so that no drop was wasted. I'm prepared to forgive him though. Maybe he was just dripping water down my spine as a practical joke. Something to tell his buddies about.

Anyway, he says the fluid was clear, not greenish or tinged with blood. Which is good. They will test it for a bunch of stuff including MS. Results are expected in less than two weeks.

Then he had to draw some blood, and when he missed the vein in the one arm he apologized and said that if he missed again, he would quit for the day and have a phlebotomist do it. He says he doesn't like torturing people. See, he is a cool doctor.

My wife has been putting up with a huge extra burden of child care, and yesterday and today she had to do everything I usually do (like cook breakfast). Yesterday while I lay flat in bed, a very nice friend of ours came by in the afternoon to help out my dear wife. And she gave me a Far Side book! Yay!
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