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The Anticipation Is Usually Worse Than The Shot

, , , , , | Healthy | November 10, 2021

In Year Eight, all the girls in my school had to have what we called the “cancer jab”, which was administered during school hours. Logically, I knew I needed this jab to vaccinate against something and that not having it would be bad, but emotionally, I was a wreck.

I’d never had a jab without my dad present before, and on the day of the jab, I found out they weren’t using the painkiller cream I was used to. Combined with a rather severe phobia of being “stabbed” by needles — thanks, egg donor — and the rumours going around about the pain and numb arms other students were experiencing, I was not exactly looking forward to my class being called for ours.

Eventually, the time came, and we were led to a room of the school we had never been in before. There was a row of chairs and nurses, and they were calling out names in alphabetical order, which meant yet more waiting because my name was in the middle. I was trying not to watch the others get their jabs and trying to convince myself that I was not going to freak out. I had it all sorted out in my head. I was going to sit in that chair, the jab would magically just happen without me freaking out, and then I could leave.

This plan fell apart the moment I sat down. The nurse had to ask me questions rather than psychically knowing I had this phobia and wanted to just be stabbed quickly so I could leave. I answered all the questions, albeit kind of curtly, despite not seeing the point in most of them. Like, I was twelve; of course I wasn’t pregnant. Why would you even ask that? In hindsight, I know that all the nurses were kind and professional and non-judgemental the whole time, but Kid Me didn’t understand that yet.

After what felt like an eternity, the nurse asked if I was ready for the jab. Nope, I am not ever going to be ready to be stabbed, thank you very much. This question pretty much started me spiralling into a meltdown. Most of what happened next was a big fuzz of panic in my memory until my best friend came over and held my hand. Her class was called sometime after mine and she walked over after getting her own jab, so I’d been here a while.

Another nurse came over and tried to talk to me, and the first stood quietly far too close, and my friend was trying to be reassuring, and I “knew” I was being watched by all of the other students and maybe the other nurses, even though I couldn’t focus on them to check if they were actually looking. It was all far too much, but at least I could vaguely see and hear by then, even if the time between hearing words and understanding what they meant was far too long. The nurses also occasionally spoke to my friend, but I couldn’t focus on what they were saying.

I kept getting asked if I wanted the jab and I kept choking out that this was very much the opposite of what I wanted but I knew I needed to have the jab, though nowhere near as eloquently. Eventually, the other nurse told me that they could not force me to have the jab, but if I didn’t have it, then they’d have to tell my dad that I’d refused it.

I did not want them to tell my dad. I was supposed to have this vaccine, so refusing it was a bad thing to do. I didn’t want my dad to know I was being bad because that would lead to lectures and not being allowed on the game consoles. So, I managed to pull myself together enough to stop rocking while one nurse held my arm still and my friend kept her grip on my hand. And then, while my eyes were squeezed shut and looking in the opposite direction, the other nurse administered the jab.

It didn’t hurt as much as it should have. I still felt it, so I know I had the jab. But it confused me because there was supposed to be so much more pain. I knew what needles felt like; I had memories as recently as five years earlier where the entire memory consisted of pain and hurt and dread and screams. This couldn’t be over yet. I kept asking the nurses if it was really done, and they were all reassuring smiles and sent me on my way.

Someone asked my friend to escort me to room F11. There were quite a few autistic kids in our school, so we had a couple of rooms just for us, and this was one of them. My friend was allowed in with me even though she usually wasn’t, and we just sat there together until I’d calmed down and then talked until the school day ended.

Thankfully, my general phobia of needles has lessened to the point where I haven’t freaked out this bad in years, though my phobia of the specific kind of needle the egg donor used is still bad enough that I cannot physically say what kind it was.

One Door Opens… And Never Closes

, , , , , | Right | November 8, 2021

My wife goes into labor a couple of days before the official due date. I call ahead to the maternity ward, and they have everything ready when we arrive a short time later. My wife and I are ushered into delivery and she is hooked up to the monitors. It’s now just a waiting game.

Not knowing how long this will take, I excuse myself to use the restroom. The rules state that in the delivery wing, restrooms are reserved for mothers-to-be, so I go across to the recovery ward.

As I go to exit the single-person bathroom, I turn the knob, the little button push-lock pops out, and… nothing. The doorknob turns freely in my hand but the locking mechanism remains stuck. I jiggle, re-lock, and unlock again, and try things over and over, but the door won’t open.

Outside, a voice asks if I need help.

Me: “Yes, please. I seem to be locked in the bathroom.

Nurse #1: “I’m a nurse. I’ll call maintenance. Who are you visiting in the recovery ward, so I can let them know?”

Me: “Actually, my wife is over in delivery, ready to give birth.”

Nurse #1: “Oh! Oh, my! You’re going to miss the birth of your child! [Nurse #2], [Nurse #3], quick! Tell maintenance it’s an emergency!”

This draws every nurse on the ward.

Nurse #2: “What should we do?”

Nurse #3: “Should we call the fire department?”

Me: “No! Please don’t do that! That would be a disturbance for everyone. I’m sure maintenance can figure it out.”

Maintenance did arrive. There was no way to disassemble the lock from the outside, the door hinges were on the inside with no way to pass me a tool, and there was no window to escape. Eventually, two maintenance workers used crowbars to pry off the doorframe and remove the door completely.

I sheepishly left the scene of destruction under the gaze of several families who had come to visit their newborns and went back in time to see my son being born.

Things went well, and of course, we were moved to recovery after his birth. For the next twenty-four hours, with each shift change of doctors and nurses, the story of why the door of the bathroom was leaning against the wall just spread. Our OB-GYN arrived the next day, fully briefed on what had happened, and constantly teased me about it. My wife found it hilarious.

The story continues. As our town was building a new hospital at the time, large maintenance work in the old hospital, such as replacing broken doors, was not a priority.

We returned several times over the next few months for wellness checks and breastfeeding advice. The door was never fixed, and everyone knew it was me. I thought I would never live it down until the new hospital was finished and the old one was torn down almost a year later.

It Takes A Village… Minus That Nurse

, , , , , , | Healthy | September 21, 2021

My husband and I had been trying for another baby for a few months when I finally got a positive pregnancy test. I called the OBGYN office and booked my first appointment, expecting it to be like the first appointments for my other two children where we previously lived: a physical exam, listening to the heartbeat on an in-office Doppler machine, addressing any concerns that might be revealed in the exam, and some counseling about healthy habits during pregnancy.

However, the appointment turned out to be just confirming the pregnancy, using the exact same sort of urine test you can buy in dollar stores (which I’d done at home). I wasn’t able to get an appointment to be seen for an exam until several weeks later, too late for any early genetic testing; it’s lucky I wasn’t planning to have those, given my family and personal history.

And for extra fun, when I gave the nurse my urine sample (in a paper towel-wrapped cup), she took it, stared at my two- and four-year-old, sighed, and asked with disdain, “If this comes back positive, are you keeping it?”

The office didn’t offer abortion services. Why would I have come if I were seeking that? If they had to ask about my plans for pregnancy, why do it so bluntly, and with the impression that three is too many kids for someone to have? It set the tone for all the rest of the pregnancy visits, wherein I was treated like a nuisance and a hassle. I was very happy to move in the eighth month of pregnancy and have my third child in a more welcoming environment — one which includes a few childfree-by-choice aunts and uncles who said I could have an extra child or two in their place.

Her Attitude Is A Real Shot In The Arm

, , , , | Healthy | September 19, 2021

I’m visiting my doctor for a checkup about a week after my booster shot. The nurse is taking my vitals. 

Nurse: “So, how was your shot?”

Me: “A little sore when I lift my arm, but otherwise, nothing, really.”

Nurse: “Most people get knocked out for a day or two.”

Me: “Yeah, I thought I would, but I feel fine.”

Nurse: “You know, when you get sick after a vaccine, that means your body is building immunity. So, if you didn’t feel anything, you probably didn’t get anything.”

Me: “But—”

Nurse: “There are stories about people injecting with water and all kinds of stuff.”

Me: “I don’t—”

Nurse: “You should look into one of those tests to see if it worked.”

Me: “No, I—”

Nurse: “You should! If I got a shot and it didn’t do anything for me, I’d sue!” *Pauses* “Your pulse is high. Are you okay?”

Me: “You gave me my shot.”

The nurse sits in silence for a moment, embarrassed. 

Nurse: “Well… not here, obviously… I mean, people here don’t… I was just… uh… The doctor will be in to see you shortly.”

She left without another word. The doctor came in and assured me that their shots are the real deal and that just because I didn’t feel anything it doesn’t mean I’m not covered.

These Responses Aren’t Coming Out Of Left Field

, , , | Healthy | September 13, 2021

In high school, I break my left arm. I’m taken to the emergency room.

Nurse #1: “At least it’s your left arm!”

Me: *Crying* “I’m left-handed!”

Nurse #2: “At least it’s your left!”

Me: “Left-handed…”

Doctor: “At least—”

Me: *Bawling* “I’m left-handed, God d*** it!”

School was not much better.