Quote of the Day:
“As a child I was more afraid of tetanus shots than, for example, Dracula.” –Dave Barry
I cannot recall the first time I had to get a shot. I do recall the screams of terror emanating from the business side of the always crowded, crummy Bible storybook and crumbling Highlight magazine-filled waiting room door in Dr. Kaluz’ Pascagoula office. Five year old TB was pretty sure at the time those screams were caused by shots being needlessly, malevolently inflicted on other innocent kids, and that my moment as the bulls eye was approaching. As I reflect on my general terror of things doctor related, I’m pretty sure the ultimate cause of my fear boils down to needles. Maybe scalpels too, but my only real familiarity with those frightening implements is from MASH. Maybe drills too, but that’s dentistry and a whole nuther category. So, yes, my terror of health professionals pretty much has to do with a trembling fear of their damned dubious penchant for needle wielding. Yet today, I submit myself willingly to the torture.
While I can’t recall the shots of early childhood, I vividly recall a couple from my teenage years that served to confirm these fears were well placed even if the basis of them was long forgotten. Pascagoula Junior High in 1984 was victimized by vandalizing pranksters. They broke into the school in the dead of night and unleashed all of the emergency fire hoses, flooding the school. This was true greatness and the pranksters were never caught. I have no idea who did it. But I digress. In spite of the admiration I still carry for a deed well executed, this vignette is imprinted in memory for a different reason, one involving a needle.
Because of the flood the carpet was removed from the whole school and a relatively flat concrete surface was exposed. Onto this surface some other prankster hellbound sadist had torn off a pencil eraser from a two-inch long number 2 stub, sharpened the point and left it sitting on the floor near my desk in Mrs. McDevitt’s room. I finished an exam, first in the class as I recall, and I triumphantly rose and headed for the teacher’s desk to turn in my work. In route I stepped on the pencil. The sharpened lead pierced my treasured canvas Nikes, entered my heel with the impetus of my full weight, and snapped off about a quarter inch inside, causing me a certain measure of pain. Within the hour I was sitting in the emergency room awaiting its extraction with my sister who was reluctantly forced to take action as guardian due to the absence for the day of our folks. Within another four hours I was relieved of the intruding lead, but not before a needle was shoved in alongside. I am forever thankful it was my sis and not my Mother who heard what spewed forth from my heretofore (mostly) innocent tongue. Even if you are brave, my friends, you do not want a long needle stuck in your heel. Much less two–one for tetanus and one to kill the pain that I guess came from a scalpel next–I don’t recall that part, must’ve fainted.
When I was eighteen I subjected myself to another needle that will go down in infamy. A shoulder injury was evident but the cause and treatment of the injury could not be settled on by any of the local doctors. Left with no idea what to do I suppose, one of the docs decided to treat the pain with a cortizone shot. This sounded pretty good to me as I had heard of football players getting these shots to be able to play with injuries and I figured it must not be too bad and was probably worth it to get my mojo back. I began to doubt the cost-benefit analysis when that bastard pulled out his needle. I swear to God if it was an inch it was a foot long and squared off at its tip, it would’ve made an Inquisitor flinch. I looked away in resignation and held hands with, this time sadly, my Mother, and braced for impact. When he stuck me I clenched her hand and uttered obscenities that would’ve cowered the Diceman and made even Bob Saget blush with shame. I recall Mother’s words as I crushed her feeble metacarpals, “letgo-letgo-letgo-letgo”. I did let go, though she can no longer open doors with the injured hand, much less twist open a jar of mayonnaise. Cortizone shots–I can only shudder. Months later I heard my Mother telling the tale to her sisters. I had assumed her own pain had blocked out the elaborately woven tapestry of profanity from her delicate ears, but learned in my eavesdropping this was not the case. For a moment I was aghast that she knew now the capabilities and depth of my inner depravity, but breathed a sigh of relief when I heard “you should’ve seen that needle, I couldn’t blame him.”
So its off to the flu shot I go. We have to get two of them this year. The good news is, the flu needle is pretty small and if given well you can’t even feel the shot. The bad news is I’m scarred for life on needles. Hmm, “scared” for life would work there too. Oh well, I’m pretty scared of the flu too.