Thursday, May 19, 2005

You may feel some discomfort

I’m not afraid of needles. I’m a very easy patient, really. I let doctors poke and prod me as much as they like, and I try to attend to problems like stomach pains as quickly as possible. So when I was at the dermatologist’s office to have a couple of weird moles removed, I took the opportunity to tell her about a recurring zit I used to get right on the corner of my nose, where my nostril meets my face. This zit resurfaced every couple of weeks, and it was always extremely painful because of where it was located.

“Can you do anything about it?” I asked the doctor.

“Sure,” she told me. “I can give you a cortisone shot which should clear up the blocked pore, and that pimple probably won’t come back.”

I was very pleased to learn this, especially because I didn’t expect to hear such good news; I thought I’d just have to live with the zit. Unfortunately, the doctor wasn’t finished with her explanation. “But,” she said, with a concerned expression, “I will have to give you the shot right where the pimple is, and because it’s right by your nose, it will hurt more than an average shot.”

“Oh, that’s no problem,” I reassured her. “Needles don’t bother me,” and the doctor turned around to get the cortisone and syringe. When she turned back, she was filling a small syringe with one of the largest needles I had ever seen. I think it was a 16-gauge needle. I meant it when I said I’m not afraid of needles, but if she had injected that thing into my face it would have gone straight through into my brain. It was at least one and a half inches long and maybe a millimeter in diameter. A millimeter may sound small, but trust me. It isn’t.

The doctor looked up and saw me, blanched and open-mouthed, staring wide-eyed at the Needle of Death in her hand. “No! This one is just to fill the syringe!” she said, hurriedly. “This is the one I’ll use to inject!” and she held up a whisper thin, 26-gauge needle that was only about a quarter of an inch long.

“Oh, thank God,” I said.

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