a.k.a "You Can Biopsy Me When I'm Dead: My 15 Least Favorite Medical Procedures (so far)
Having just got some things cut off my skin (skin cancer runs in my family, so I was being proactive in getting it checked), I'm putting Anbesol on my 5-stitch wound and recalling fond memories of hospital and doctor visits...
15) catheter. I swear I should have filed for rape after that. I was in the hospital and they did a catheter, and got nothing (no pee), and wanted to do another one I said "I can get enough UTIs on my own without having a tube threaded up into my bladder. Tell your boss 'patient refused procedure.'" Did you know you could do that? yup. If they want pee, they'll just have to feed me water and wait for me to go in a cup.
14) cauterizing veins. Holy crap! how did i get talked into this one? I went to the dermatologist about something else and he talked me into getting all the little red veins on my nose cauterized- closed off for cosmetic reasons, so I'd have a nice smooth white skin around my nose. I hurt like the dickens (cauterizing= burning) and smelled like someone was grilling hamburgers on my face. Then afterward, for 2 weeks, it looked like I had lost a boxing match. My nose was completely purple. The worst part is, I got in a fight with my boyfriend long-distance over the phone, and he sent me a singing telegram to apologize. You should have seen the look on the singer's face, singing an apology song to a girl with a hideously bruised nose. Oh, yeah, and the little red veins returned within 6 months.
13) Iodine test. I can't believe they don't routinely ask people if they are allergic to iodine before they shoot it into their veins. This is what killed my grandmother. If you are allergic to shrimp, you should not get an iodine test. Unless you secretly wish to die of anaphylactic shock.
12) Wisdom tooth extraction. The drugs and laughing gas are good enough that I don't remember the procedure but oh do i remember the aftermath. I was in bed for 2 weeks. Gaping holes in my mouth where 4 teeth were cut out, and antibiotics I was allergic to. I was 19, and my parents were out of town, so when I got a full-body rash from the drugs, I kept taking them because I didn't want to get an infection. 2 weeks of hot swollen full-body rash. And, I waited until I was in a lot of pain to take the pain pills. Don't do that!! Its too hard to control then, and you end up taking more or running out. I remember that my parents were out of town, because I was alone in their huge old house with cats and central air (which makes for lots of weir noises at night). I slept with a crowbar and told myself to sleep lightly. I woke up the next day and the crowbar had fallen on the hard floor and I hadn't woken up.
11) Hospital roommate getting an enema. Me, I feel better after a good enema. But I feel much worse after the person in the next bed, who has blockage and hasn't taken a dump in months, has an enema. Geez! I was in with nausea and stomach flu that time, not at all alleviated by the toxic brown cloud wafting in my direction. Oy! Private room, anyone?
10) Transfusions. Yuk, ew, gross. But sometimes really necessary. I got them twice in '02. I had a really bad reaction to one of them- cramps, aching, itching. I mean what if the donor ate shrimp or something else that gives me hives? Not to mention the diseases in some blood. And the weird karma. Takes forever, huge needle, feels like a railroad spike in my arm, freaks me out. Again, in the hospital all day, hard to match blood type (AB+), no diet orders = no food.
9) Getting marked with a sharpie. OK, if I mark myself with a sharpie to keep the doctor from lopping off a leg by mistake while I'm knocked out, that's one thing. But when the nurse puts big permanent marker Xs on my swollen feet where she found my pulses, that's dehumanizing.
8) Glaucoma test. I don't like having drops in my eyes at all, but certanly not some yellow crap that means I can't safely drive myself home from the eye doctor. But I *really* don't like having some hard plastic thing stuck up against my eyeball. I swear he's been doing this test on me since I was 16. Who gets glaucoma at 16? The last 2 times I said "no thanks, I'm the designated driver."
7) kidney (or other) biopsy. I've had 2 kidney biopsies. The first one, I told them I was a bleeder- I have a long bleeding time (takes me a long time to clot). There are lots of major vessels in the kidneys, so they cut me open so they could see what they were doing and make sure they didn't hit a major artery and have me bleed to death for a dumb test. They put me under (not everyone wakes back up from anesthesia so I was nervous, but my doctor mocked me for being nervous. this was just before she "fired" me for "challenging her authority." Please.), stuck a tube down my throat (didn't warn me about that either. I'm a singer. Not good.), cut me open and grabbed a piece of tissue. Instead of sewing me up they put some weird see-through adhesive gauze on the gaping hole in my right side and of course it got infected. I'm allergic to so many antibiotics that I decided to kill it by taking 50 garlic pills a day., This was during the hot humid summer, so all that garlic killed my social life as well. No vampires though. End result? Tissue sample too small to be conclusive and my drug regimen remained unchanged. 8 years later i got another biopsy. I was in the hospital all day waiting for coagulant, with no food (no diet order from teh Dr). They didn't have to cut me open, but again the sample was too small and my treatment was unchanged. When they asked me about doing a biopsy last year of my kidney I told them "You can biopsy me when I'm dead."
6) Prostate exam. Or as my hubby calls it, "Prostrate exam." (just for men. I've been spared this one). To those guys who have yet to experience it, it's a finger up the wazoo. OK guys, I'll admit this can't be pleasant. They could at least warm up their hands for you. Of course we women have been subjected to a similar humiliation since puberty, but let's not let that take away from your pain. Esp when you can't see the doctor's hands and you're just taking his word for it that that's a finger in there. Which is bad enough.
5) EMG. should be called OMG! Holy CRAP! who the *%^# came up with this test? Especially for someone with nerve damage. Hello?! I'm already in pain! Zapping me with electrodes in increasing amounts of voltage, you can't be surprised when my legs jerk around in reflex. "Stop jerking!" "Stop zapping and I'll stop jerking." I never got past the first area of testing, my left ankle. Apparently they do both ankles, both knees, hands, elbows, maybe some other parts. I stood it as long as I could, but I was in so much pain I didn't even get 20% through the test. Apparently, I missed the big finale where they stick a gigantic needle in your arm and zap the daylights out of you. I never even saw the neurologist. I told me rheumatologist how awful it was and she said "Oh I had one. it wasn't that bad." Do you have neuropathy? Then shut up!) Avoid this one if you can. My friends who did make it to the big needle at the end of the tunnel tell me their treatment was unchanged afterward. I can't see any benefit to the "OMG!," unless you are a dominatrix.
4) Mammogram, better known as slam-a-gland. I'm sure you can find a great description of this on the web somewhere. Or ask any woman over 40. I haven't had one yet. Some folks even think too many mammograms can increase your risk of cancer by exposing those tissues to radiation every time you get tested. If a man had to get his you-know-what slammed between 2 cold steel plates and then squished flat as a pancake, they would be storming capitol hill.
3) a bad phlebotomist. That means, they can't find a vein with a needle. I swear, some of them can't find a garden hose with a shovel. But those are not the phlebotomists- those are the doctors playing phlebotomist, who are rusty (not literally!) and out of practice. Never let a doctor stick you. Get the expert. If the doctor tries to stick you himself, say "Doctor, I think someone's beeping you. Send the Phlebotomist, please." Important rule: 2 sticks and you're out. If a nurse can't get a vein in 2 tries, she is supposed to call for someone else. It's an unspoken rule, but you as the patient can speak it. Only 2. it's not baseball.
2) drawing blood from my fingertip with a spring-loaded needle. OW! is there no other body part they can pull blood from? All my nerve endings are at my fingertips! Do they do this to POWs to get info out of them? I'd squeal in a second! "I'M A GUITAR PLAYER! STOP POKING HOLES IN MY FINGERTIPS! WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW???? I did it! I confess! go AWAY!"
1) Bone Marrow test. holy crap this was painful. OK I admit I had a crush on my hematologist, so I wore some cute flowery cotton Victoria's Secret undies to my bone marrow test. don't do this! They got blood all over them. They put a big hole on one side of your back, just above the hip, stick a gigantic needle into your bone and draw marrow from the inside of your leg and you can feel it all the way to your tip of our big toe. There is no painkiller that can stop the sensation. I used up every cuss word I'd ever heard, went through the Fred Flintstone cussing vocabulary, and then had to make some more up. I'm sure it wasn't cheap, either, but at the time I had Medicaid and it paid for everything. Which may be why I had this (for me, at the time) unnecessary test. Once again, nothing about my treatment changed. Except for me doing contortions trying to clean and change a wound near the middle of my back.
The following, however, are not so bad:
X rays (quick and painless, though probably not harmless)
MRIs (I just go to sleep, but I wonder about that dye they inject me with)
Bone density test (non-invasive, slept through it)
Dental exam. Just the exam mind you.
sonograms (they get slime all over your abdomen, but it doesn't hurt at all)
Beware of doctors who are "test-happy" and remember you have the right to say no, especially if you are informed.