Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"Lie very, very still... DON'T MOVE!"

That's what my doctor said to me yesterday afternoon while I was lying flat on my stomach. I was garbed in a green gown, positioned on the table in the procedure room of his office. My doctor is a pain management specialist, and yesterday he performed a nerve block-- a "supra scapular something-or-other-blah-blah-blah"-- to see if I'm a candidate for another surgery. If temporarily numbing the branch of the spinal nerve that courses through the area of my scapula gives me some relief, my doctor will then implant another lead to that area. Then I'll have some electrical stimulation/impulse there constantly, which-- if all goes as planned-- will reduce my pain.

Those of you who've been following my blog and who were readers of my Horse Illustrated column, "Life with Horses," know that I had a really bad riding accident about 3 years ago. Let's not go there again and revisit it. At least not for a while.

My doctor is a really neat guy, especially for someone who spends his working hours dealing with people in various stages of desperation due to uncontrolled pain. He's a big guy, a giant teddy bear, with a personality like everyone's favorite uncle. Because he's Middle Eastern, he speaks with an accent that at times makes it difficult for me to understand him, especially when I'm already not in the best frame of mind. (See reference, above, to uncontrolled pain).

So yesterday, there I am, lying prone on this sterile table in this hospital-like setting, trying very hard not to look at the tray next to me that held the long spinal needles and syringes. My doctor tried to reassure me by telling me how tough I am, how good I am about lying still and not moving. Apparently that's an occupational hazard for pain management specialists wielding long needles: their patients have a tendency to go, "OH MY GOD!" and jerk away before the local anesthetic kicks in.

But I was very still. Yes, it hurt, especially when he worked the needle underneath my shoulder blade so he could inject the cortisone and numbing agent in the correct space.

"You're being so good," he said. "You're not moving."

I told him the truth. "I'm thinking about riding my horse."

And I was. My eyes might've been fixated on the glass canister of cotton swabs on the table in front of me, but my mind was elsewhere. I wasn't on that exam table, but on Wally. We were riding across the river, and with each hoof fall Wally splashed water around me. The sun captured the curve of each droplet, so that I felt myself showered with diamonds.

"I know you like to ride your horse," my doctor said in his soothing voice. "That's good that you think of that. Everyone should have something in their life they love like that."

Yes, then perhaps they'd lie still for him. Works for me.

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Anonymous said...

Whenever i'm scared i imagin the pony i lease and i alway imagin im giving him a great big hug!

Jessica said...

I remember when I was a kid and I couldn't sleep at night, I would close my eyes and imagine I was galoping my chesnut mare in a big green field. Her mane was always blowing back into my face. And I was always barefoot and bareback.
There's just something so peaceful about a horse.

Anonymous said...

Good job for lying still and not moving .

Cindy Hale said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who has spent their life imagining being on the back of a horse during bad times. There is, indeed, "something peaceful" about a horse.