Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Coming Soon and an Anecdote

I just got home from the library with a new armload of books.  As I look through them in the next week or so, I'll put up quick reviews about them.  I'm still looking for the golden goose: a book that contains practical advice for how to exercise like a normal person even when you're pregnant.  I think what I have ended up with instead is a lot of How To Get Your Body Back After The Baby (cuz look out, the baby is about to hijack it).  Not exactly what I wanted, but maybe there will be some helpful information in there somewhere.

But first, an anecdote:

I hate needles.  When I have to have my blood drawn, I always warn the nurse that I HATE having a needle in my arm and I promise to try not to freak out.  It takes concentration to keep myself calm.  When I was in high school, I had to get my wisdom teeth taken out by surgery -- all four of them were impacted up in my jaw, so I couldn't just have them pulled like most of my friends -- and I know for a fact that this is where my fear and hatred of needles of comes from.

That day, I went to a new dentist's office, one better equipped to handle the surgery than my normal dentist.  The man in charge, whom I had never met before, had a huge red nose like an old cartoon of a drunk.  He didn't say much to me as I sat down in the chair.  Soon, we were joined by about five nurses or assistants.  They each had a different job to do and they didn't say anything to me as they got started, either, but they talked amongst themselves about medical things I didn't understand.  The dentist was tying a rubber hose to my right arm so he could put in the IV of drugs.  He didn't say what he was up to, so when I looked down to watch him, I was really surprised when he grabbed the lower half of my arm and slapped the inner side of my elbow hard.  A giant vein popped right up from the skin; it really frightened me.  That's when an angry nurse who was doing something on the other side of me shouted, "You better calm down, you're messing up your blood pressure."  The tone of her voice was along the lines of "Hey, stupid, quit ruining everything."

I was about ready to cry at this point.  I couldn't calm down.  I was really scared.  When I looked over to see what was happening to the poor vein in my right arm, I saw the dentist take a giant needle and shove it in with a hard jab.  I opened my mouth to scream, but before I could finish drawing a breath, I passed right out from the medication.

I woke up after the surgery several hours later in extreme pain and I had big purple bruises up and down my chin for the next two months.  You can see them in my school pictures from that year, even though I had my wisdom teeth taken out in the middle of summer vacation.

This memory has been coming back to me lately.  I thought it was just that I've had to get my blood drawn more times in the last five months than in the last five (or maybe more likely fifteen) years put together (my favorite was when the lab admitted they dropped my first sample and I had to go back another day to do it over).  Every time I see that needle approaching, I have to mentally coach myself through it.  I feel like a baby.

But this week, after delving into the first of my library books -- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin -- I've decided that in my mind, when I imagine going to the hospital to have a baby, the whole scene from that dentist is what goes through my mind: bright lights, surrounded by people I don't know or trust, a million things going on that I don't understand and can't control, a nurse who might be having a bad day telling me I'm doing something wrong, and the feeling that everyone is really just waiting for the drugs to take over so they can do their jobs without any more interference from me.  After I saw a picture of what happens when you get an epidural, I couldn't even THINK about it anymore without getting bad chills, and it was just a drawing, not a photograph.  My mom thinks I'm obsessing over it, but I've gone through most of my life with little or no illnesses or injury.  I never broke a bone as a kid and my worst sickness as an adult was a misdiagnosed yeast infection I had for a few months.  Sure, it sucked, but most of my emotions about it were simply anger at the doctor who kept misdiagnosing it every month.  So, when I start thinking about hospitals and medical procedures, my mind only has that one surgery experience to draw on.

I'm relating this anecdote as an explanation because Ina May's Guide to Childbirth will probably be one my first quick reviews.  Of all the pregnancy books I brought home from the library this time around, this is the one that stuck out, and once I started reading it I couldn't put it down.

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