Monday, July 09, 2007

Notes from the haystack

There are a lot of things that make Crohn's Disease not much fun. Right off the bat, there's the constant desire to spell it "Chron's." Then, there's the onion ring prohibition. And the constant uncertainty over pants size. Plus, you have your minor issues, like pain, fatigue, and digestive distress.

Mostly, though, it's the feeling that the medical world is constantly doing something to you. If they're not taking large amounts of intestine out of you, they're putting probes into you, each one in a place less pleasant than the last. (We're thinking of spinning off a book: "From Colonoscopy to Cystoscopy: 50 Internal Organs to See Before You Die.")

Not a few times during the past eight months, I've gone through a test and felt, with some relief, that they couldn't dream up anything worse... only to find out a day later that not only *could* they dream up something worse, but it's something that strains the boundaries of worse.

But since my surgery in April, the total number of items poking and prodding me has been kept, blissfully, to a minimum. The exception has been one little needle every month. One lonely cc of cyanacobalamin, a.k.a. Vitamin B12. B12 deficiency is a pretty common issue in Chron -- er, Crohn's, and I'd gotten used to getting the shot once a month. I'd also gotten used to my doctors and nurses pointing out that one of these days, I ought to learn to give myself the shots. I thought it was a nice sentiment, and one I looked forward to hearing every thirty days for the next, oh, ten or twenty years.

But at my appointment last month, Sarah, my nurse practitioner, sounded a little incredulous that I'd want to come in every month for the rest of my life, just to get jabbed with a 1 cc syringe. And so I thought, Hey, it couldn't be that painful to give myself a shot, right? I mean, I enjoy removing splinters with a sewing needle, and my favorite part of eating pizza is scalding the roof of my mouth. This is just like that, only more sanitary, right? Right? Millions of diabetics give themselves shots every day. Wilford Brimley gives himself shots. It couldn't be that rough.

So I got the prescription for the syringes. I got the prescription for the B12 (which, honest to God, showed up with a label saying it was for someone named "Myrtle"). I got a lesson from one of the nurses at the hospital, who sent me home with some syringes the size of javelins to practice. She suggested I practice on an orange, but I thought they looked like they'd go right through it, so I practiced on the tires of my neighbor's pickup. Mostly, I practiced getting nervous. And I got pretty good at that.

And so I stalled. I stalled long enough that I went from thinking I could use the B12 to really needing it. I stalled long enough that my mother-in-law, a nurse, came to visit, and I seriously considered just having her give me the damn shot. But she wasn't planning on visiting every month for the indefinite future, and so I settled for having her supervise.

I washed my hands. I cleaned the top of the vial. I cleaned off my skin. I drew 1 cc of cyanacobalamin into the syringe. It's just like burning the roof of my mouth with a pizza, right? Except that it's a very sharp object that I'm about to jab into my gut. Plus, no pepperoni.

The needle was about a half-inch long and it went into the wad of skin almost without effort. And after my hands stopped shaking, I actually pushed the plunger down and gave myself the B12. It was, in all, an enjoyable experience, the First Shot of the Rest of My Life. And I look forward to the energy it'll give me. I might need it, if my neighbor figures out what happened to his tires.

1 comment:

suespez said...

" I practiced on the tires of my neighbor's pickup.."

Um, so is this what you meant when you said that you borrowed my truck while I was gone? :P