Friday, December 05, 2008

The Eye on the Needle

It's not that I'm afraid of getting stuck by needles. After all, I've donated blood many, many times. No, it's just that I don't like to watch the needles going in. As long as I can look away, it's okay.

Last Monday morning, as I was being prepped for surgery, a man who was short but had the build and body hair of a bear charged in carrying a basket. He explained that he was the anesthesiology technician and (as he grabbed up my hand) would I mind if he stuck a few needles in me?

"No," I said, "but I prefer not to look."

"That's okay," he said, "I prefer not to look too."

Okay, it made me laugh!

Anyway, yesterday the Home Health Care nurse came to my home for her first visit. I signed a bunch of papers, and then it came time for her to give me a shot of something that helps prevent blood clots. I have to get five of these shots while recuperating at home. I already have all the syringes and everything.

"You know," she said, "for the next five days, the only reason I have to come out here is to give you these shots. Your co-pay for these shots is $40.00. Per visit. So that's $200.00 that you can pay... or... you can just give the shots to yourself."

I felt sick to my stomach. Not only watching a needle go in, but actually inserting it into myself? On the other hand, it seemed absurd to pay $200.00 for something I could do easily myself. I mean, am I a self-respecting guy or what? Can I give in to squeamishness and still retain my self-respect?

"I'll give it a try," I said with a dry mouth.

"Then you do it today. I'll show you how," she said, handing me the syringe.

My hand was shaking, but under her instruction I inserted the needle -- it's a simple matter of jabbing it straight into the roll of fat around my stomach -- and pushed the plunger.

I gave myself a shot.


It went pretty well. Today, all on my own, wasn't quite so smooth. I got a little mixed up about exactly how it was supposed to "click" when it was done, and that resulted in my partially removing and reinserting the needle a couple of times. I don't think it did any real harm, but it did leave a fierce-looking bruise.

Tomorrow should go better. Though somehow I think I'll still look away in the future.



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