Saturday, July 5, 2008

Knowledge is Power

I have a long list of phobias. Trust me. You don't want me to enumerate them. You and I would be here all day, possibly laughing at me, possibly agreeing with me, but mostly being bored. One of those phobias has always been about all things to do with medicine. Tablets and capsules, injections, IVs, surgery- honestly, anything. It is a subject that has scared me half to death since I was very little. I would bet that part of it has to do with the fear of death, something that seems to be directly linked to my anxiety disorder. But the other side of it is the unknown. So much of the medical field is unknown to most people. It doesn't help that once you are in a medical establishment, suddenly the ball isn't in your court. If you need treatment for anything, the shots are being called (so to speak) by the doctor and nurses. Orders for prescriptions, treatment plans, and care have some patient input, but generally speaking, it is the doctor who dictates what is going to happen to/for the patient.

Take, for example, my latest experience at the urgent care center. In a crazy freak accident at my house, I was pretty sure I had broken my toe. Now, I had also broken the skin and bled all over the place, too, so I wasn't so sure that I didn't need stitches as well. I wasn't willing to call in sick to go to the doctor, but I did go after work. By then, the swelling had gone up, but the incision was sealed by natural means. The doctor ordered instant X-Rays and my husband insisted on a wheel chair for me to keep off of this little pinky toe. Already, my "say" so to speak in what was going on was be yielded to those who know better and will help get me better. Oh, and they ordered a Tdap, a tetanus booster, because of the nature of the injury. That's a thriller right there. Not only is my toe going to hurt, my arm is going to ache as well. The joy! In truth, I could have refused treatment, but I knew better than to. I had pain in my foot along with my toe, which showed possible injury to the bones in my foot as well as my toe. I knew the moment I said "fix me," my ability to make choices about what was going to happen was very limited. It's usually at this point that my palms get sweaty, my heart rate goes up. If they had me hooked to a BP monitor, I would be a case for hypertension. My fight or flight kicks in and I begin to feel as helpless as the day is long. I begin to feel sick in my stomach, too, with nausea and all the fun that comes with that feeling. No matter how much I tell myself that this is for my own good, I can't seem to stop the fears.

This time, I started to go there as soon as they said "shot", but I didn't go there. I did my typical warning to the nurse when she said it was time for the injection. I told her that I have a history of puking and passing out with the introduction of needles into my environment. She told me I would never notice. Eh, I always thought that was a lie, but this time, I really didn't notice it. Why? Well, as silly as it sounds, the nerd in me came out in that moment. I had been diligently studying my pharmacy tech materials, and I had learned about the different types of injections. I once thought that a shot was a shot, but I have learned there are all different types of shots. I asked the nurse if this was an IM (inter-muscular shot) and she said it was. She counted to three, and in my mind (since my eyes were squeezed shut very tight!) I thought about the image of how the needle looked going into the muscle from my book. Then, I thought about how that serum is considered a ready made mixture, which means it wasn't compounded at the local pharmacy but it was set to be administered to the patient from its original packaging. I thought about how the serum needed to be drawn up from the vial and by the time she put the Band-aid on, I never really knew it happened. I felt the poke but it was little different from the bites I get from the quakers. (especially Maple!) No, the knowledge didn't take away the fear, but rather distracted me from being afraid as I used it as a learning experience. So, maybe the title of this blog shouldn't be "Knowledge is Power" but "The Nerd in Me Saved the Nurse from Cleaning Up My Vomit". Or, maybe not. . .