Thursday, November 29, 2007

fear of all fears, horror of all horrors, mother of all phobias

those of you who have spent any time around me are probably familiar with my aversion to needles. this extends to most things medical, but especially the evil nasty needles. i swear it all stems from the memory of having a painful operation on my foot as a child. naturally memory is the great distorter, but when the nurse picked up that needle, to 'anesthetise' my foot, i swear it was longer than my arm! and straight into that wound did she plunge that instrument of torture. i have since learned, after working for a foot doctor, that the injection should be administered between the toes, NOT smack dab in the center of the inflamed area! this is nice breakfast banter, isn't it? needless to say, i cried throughout the operation with pain from the shot, not the dry ice nor the cutting out of infected cells. and so, whole and raging, a new phobia was born. don't ask me to watch the surgery channel with you. don't ask me to listen to your tales of injuries and blood (though i'm about to regale you with mine!), because you will find me turning green and sitting down quickly. and woe is the nurse that ignores my pleas to lie down after having blood drawn--even the pinprick in the finger kind. i don't care about what's on the closest horizontal surface. i don't care if it's dirty or you have to walk over my clammy body. just let me lie there, NOW. another nurse (take note, beloved nurses-to-be of mine) felt i would be much more comfortable in this situation if i could lay down on a cot. she picked me up off the office floor and tried to walk me across the hall. and i heard, as though from a distant radio transmisssion: 'get her head!' and down i went. embarrassing, yes. totally irrational, i know. but it's just the unavoidable way my overactive mind works. consequently, (torturous and frequent dental experiences aside) i've been able to avoid the needle on several occasions. call me black hearted, but you will not ever talk me into donating blood. it's just more than i could voluntarily bring my selfish soul to do. and it's miraculous that on two occasions i have braved the tattoo needle, and will again soon. these instances have all been accompanied by the wooziness and the fainting or almost fainting episodes. i can hardly bring myself to be embarrassed anymore. i can be a tough girl sometimes. just not around needles. and gloriously, i have managed in my life to avoid other such injections. okay, so i had to spend the first day of school each year in the principal's office explaining that i belong to a cult-like religion that does not allow immunizations. i'll just ride on your vaccinations, other kids, thank you. crazy that this was cause for social ridicule, along with 'why doesn't kitty say the pledge of allegiance?' oh, that would be because i pledge my allegiance to jehovah god, not the flag. what? but i digress.
the other night my artistic and adventurous side found me joining the crew of a crazy artist who launched a homemade one-man submarine into the new york harbor. and now, time to display said once-confiscated-by-the-police vehicle at an art show. it was a strangely warm and rainy november night. the truck lurched over the cobblestone streets down on the docks of red hook, brooklyn. from the wrought iron staircase clinging to the side of the old brick warehouse, the city was blanketed in what this northern californian could only call fog, but i could see the tip of the statue of liberty's torch rising above the factories and lofts. a light rain began to fall, or rather, it felt like that fog just came over and wrapped around us. the task was to unload the steel top of the submarine out of the truck and onto a dolly to transport it to the woodshop where the barrel of the sub sat waiting to be capped off. oh, and a lot of rocks. to weigh down the submarine of course. okay, it was heavy, but i'm a strong girl (as i keep insisting!). I lift a lot of stuff. i grew up out in the garage helping my dad with cars--i'm a tough girl! keep telling yourself that, kitty, right? but the submarine cap wasn't just deathly heavy. it was also completely unwieldy, outfitted as it was with long vertical pipes, glass portals and such. fog had turned to rain and that big piece of steel was slippery! thanks be to god, gaia, martin gore, whoever--i didn't feel the steel slicing my finger like a piece of polish sausage at the hands of a greenpoint stone cold polish fox and a deli slicer. my hands were happily numb from the cold. but as i stood above the dolly trying desperately to swing those pipes around, in the dull glow of the light escaping the freight elevator, i saw a pool of blood deepening on the blond wood of the cart. the blood was gushing from my very finger! i could see that a flap of flesh was half separated from said mutilated digit. so i held pressure on it (stop gushing!) and we went upstairs to the wood shop first aid kit, leaving a trail of crimson blood to mark the way through the pale fresh sawdust on the floor. thankfully, said submarine builder is also a non-squeamish tattoo artist, wasting not a moment in flushing out the wound, pulling out a mysterious shard of steel, and bandaging my fountaining finger tight tight tight. thanks be also, to my long arms, as i lay on the filthy bathroom floor, arm extended up to the sink. and everyone shrugged and said, 'you'll be okay--when was your last tetanus shot?' and that's when the needle scratched the record and i began to freak out to have to answer--NEVER--but i sure could hook you up with some literature about jehovah god! who needs a tetanus shot? well, now that would be me. desperately. but because of a lengthy emergency room wait and my absolute fear of stitches (let's not even go there), i abandoned the hospital and found myself two days later, shaking at a stranger-to-me doctor's office saying, no really, i've never had a tetanus shot. and he looked at my finger and said, head shaking, 'how did you DO this?'
okay, and as usual, the shot wasn't so bad. yeah, my arm is sore and i feel mysteriously ill today. but the nurse was damn good. i closed my eyes and she pinched my arm a bunch of times so i didn't even feel the (gulp) needle very much. but my god, making the decision to do the right thing was so so hard and scary and only motivated by total paranoia of dying of lockjaw tetanus poisoning and i promise, next time i'll wear heavy work gloves. i have, at my disposal, many amazing images which could accompany this story, but i think it would be a copyright issue, so you'll just have to use your imaginations.
well, one little picture couldn't hurt, could it? i swear, if asked, i will remove this.

8 comments:

August Anderson said...

ouch kitty ouch.
Love the pic. I remember you showed me this in class. Love it!
How is POD? And Lighting?
Put some updates soon!!
A

kim said...

OH MY GOD!! So....how is the finger now?

Naomi Campbell said...

Kitty, I can take your blood pressure to see if your finger is okay. tee hee. Love, Gnome

Anonymous said...

and yet one more idiosyncrasy we have in common, the part about needles and blood, not Jehovah!
did you have stitches after all? the only good part is that emre will have to do all the cooking and dishwashing until you are healed, which could be a long, long time.
aunt sudz

kitty8joe said...

okay, okay, i beg you to comment then i leave you hanging with no answers. the finger, eh, it's still pretty nasty. the doctor said since it's right over my joint, and probably should have had stitches, it will take forever to heal, will break open frequently as it's trying to do so and be very painful. i'm finding all of those assesments to be true. though it's just now starting to try to mend itself and when i pour the hydrogen peroxide on i am not swept out the window by the force of mountains of foam and blood (this really was the case for the first three days!). i can now type fairly adeptly, a major improvement. so looks like i'll live. and now i can finally lift my tetanus shot arm to grab the subway rail without whining like a baby. tough girl indeed.

Amy said...

Kitty, glad you're going to live! Your description had me cringing and in pain too. Kept waiting to see if you were going to mention you going with me to the hospital for moral support (which I needed very much!) and next thing I know you excused (more like ran) yourself to the bathroom FOREVER. Turns out you were lying on the cold floor almost passed out...

Oh yeah, I can totally relate to the no immunization thing since I was right there with you! Freaks we were!!!

Bibi said...

Even after hearing your story once before and seeing your cut-up finger, reading your story makes me cringe again. AAAAUUUWWWW!!
Crossing my fingers for a fast as possible recovery!!

kim said...

Hey there wimpy,
Thanks for the photo--it adds to your well-written story. How about a pic of the finger! Too gross?