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Monday, December 19, 2016

Medical Procedures and Celebration for Overcoming Medical Uncertainties (revisited)

            There’s a lot of discussion as to what a spinal tap feels like. From all of this pre-procedural worry, I came to believe that they were the root canals of the medical world.
Now, I’ve had root canals. In fact, I’ve had 3 of them. The first 1 was brutal. They didn’t put in enough lidocaine, and I howled and screamed. Now, until my current dentist, I’ve never really had many good experiences with dentists (as much my fault as anyone else’s). My first dentist had a heavy Germanic name and accent, and I always thought of this in terms of WWII.
“We shall extract the information from you, jah?”
Hell, even "I love you" is “Ich liebe dich” in German. It sounds harsh with its heavy pronunciation and consonants. It’s like Beowulf is going off to fight Grendel or something, and this is the announcement of a fierce warrior going into battle with the intent to be Negan holding down his position of authority by announcing, "I will shut this... down!"
The second root canal wasn’t as bad, but it was after 25 years of contemplating how bad the first one was. Those are a lot of bad memories from that pain. Fortunately, I asked for extra lidocaine the second time, and while I could smell burning and feel vibrating and drilling it wasn’t bad like the first one. Instead, it felt rather routine. By the third one, I went to teach after it was over feeling more affected by the hit to my wallet than my teeth as well as some growling feelings for the dentist who didn't see the need for it until I knew I had to get a second one on a different tooth.
“If you see me slurring, I just had a root canal,” the note on the board said with the unwritten words "because if I can come in after a root canal, you need to be here, too," being implied to freshmen students still getting into the requirements of college.
So it goes when you have a 13 odd year or so streak of never called off from teaching on the line (I have since then, but it was because of extenuating circumstances, which were rectified by online assignments and work – gotta love teaching in 2016).

As for spinal taps, I came to believe that I would be getting a huge needle in me for an extended period of time. I heard 20 minutes, and well, I guess it took that long, but most of it was for instructions, preparation, and trying to get my uncoordinated self into the fetal position. As for the needle, it seemed small. Dr. Perez-Vargas’ handiwork felt like a pin prick. He definitely had his 10,000 hours of experience, so I didn’t feel anything until the knee-jerk reaction of the glub, glub, glub over my nerve. I pushed away instinctively twice, but then the hot liquid feeling stopped.
“So where are we at in the process, Doc?” I asked assuming we would wait for the lidocaine to kick in.
“In the middle of it.”

Within no time, it was done, and I was following Nurse Joy’s instructions (her real name, and she was really that pleasant) to do nothing but lay around. That was the worst part of all of it. Waiting around and doing nothing sucks, especially when I could have been grading or typing my supernatural story that I've been trying to finish. At the end of the term, there’s so much to do and so little time.
And I had to blow off 6 hours of sick time for that! Sure, it was for my own good, but I could have used that somewhere else… like with my potential issues if the Lyme showed up in my cerebra-spinal fluid. However, I know better than to disobey doctors and my wife.
Fortunately, nothing bad came of the potential side effects or the overall results. I found that good news out today. It’s not like I didn’t want to be given the right treatment, but if the IV treatment was the right treatment, I would be carrying an IV for 4 weeks. This meant that I couldn’t drive around with myself at the wheel. I would be getting chauffeured, showering with a plastic bag, and sleeping weirdly uncomfortable.
Today, I got the good news on that, which worked out well because we kind of had a pre-news celebration at Outback with other good medical news for my family as well as hope and the spirit of Christmas. All in all, we needed some celebration time. One family friend has cancer that she’s fighting. My mom just had a surgical procedure. My nephew was diagnosed with a learning disability, and I had my Parkinson’s and Lyme diagnoses this year, so what else is to come? My dad had benign skin cancer treatments, but cancer is cancer, and another relative is waiting on his own news about whether something is the C word or not as he is bounced back and forth. And there are other passing things that come and go and inconvenience and cause pain to all of us, but we persevere through. What else can we do except move forward?
That said, this getting old sucks.
However, there’s something about putting it all aside and going out to eat with the family. I’m starting to like the idea of things like this more than buying things for holidays and birthdays. Generally, we take the niece and nephew to a Christmas play or the like for their gifts, so why not do it with everyone?
So yeah, here’s to the great times. News like this is really great.
Thank you, Jesus. Really. You do answer prayers.  



  1. Funny Dentist shit Dan! I'm glad it was painless and you are celebrating with your family. Hang in there.

    1. Thanks! I appreciate it. Looking forward to seeing you in early January!