Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

07 October 2010

Placebo

Whenever you go into a hospital they always ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. In my case, my arm/shoulder was causing intense pain that did not subside even for a moment. It was accompanied by dry mouth, occasional light-headedness and nausea. Thus, I characterized the pain as a 10. Not that I’m a wimp, as I’ve said, but it was really, really bad.

But I tend to take things in a lighthearted way. I see no point in complaining or putting on a martyr act. I try to see the humor in events. And so I make with the jokes. It can backfire.

A long time ago, I fell out of a tree. (It’s a long story.) They thought I broke my back. On the way to the hospital, the woman EMT was asking me the usual, “how many fingers am I holding up?” questions. I was cracking wise. I may have asked her to open her blouse and let me see ‘em inasmuch as I might be dying and it would be a nice gesture. I heard my nephew riding in the “shotgun” seat of the ambulance go, “Uncle Bobbbbbbyyyyyyyy…” and I could tell he was rolling his eyes. The woman EMT snapped at me, rather sharply, “Sir, we are just trying to do our jobs here!” I replied,
“Missy, let’s not forget that I am the one in pain here.”

So in Sacred Heart Hospital this past Tuesday evening, they may not have taken me seriously when I said how badly I was in pain. My body was fighting hard- my BP and pulse were off the chart but that did not seem to impress them. Eventually, I did see a doctor who said they’d give me something…perhaps he mentioned Demerol…for the pain. Eventually a nurse did come in and give me a shot. She warned me that it might sting a little. I said, “Sweetie, you could stick that needle right in my scrotum and it wouldn’t hurt as bad as my left arm is hurting right now.” (I swear I said that, too. I have no filter when I’m in pain.) She looked a little shocked. I can’t say I felt the injection at all, even though she may have been digging around for bone. I am not popular in Emergency Rooms.

Twenty minutes later, the doctor stuck his head in the little room where I lay writhing in pain on the gurney. I mentioned to him that the shot did not seem to have
any effect at all. Casually, he said we’d just wait a little while longer and see about giving me another one. That “little while longer” turned out to be an additional 45 minutes, when they came to discharge me. (Sacred Heart Hospital is not exactly generous with the pain meds.)

As they tried to strap me into an immobilizing sling, the same nurse gave me a shot of what she called the same stuff as before. All I know is, as she pulled the needle out I immediately felt extremely nauseous and woozy. I was gulping down water (“SIR, JUST SIP IT!”) fast. As I did, the pain melted away like an ice cube in a hot frying pan. I was, like, whoa! “You sure that’s the same stuff as before?” I asked. She answered in the affirmative. Hmm.

Next day, I was relating this little story to a pilot/attorney friend of mine. “They probably gave you a placebo the first time,” he offered. I was incredulous. Would they do that? He opined that they might. And it sounded logical.

I entered the hospital complaining of Richter Scale 10 pain. But I wasn’t acting like I was in pain. Suppose they only gave me sugar-water, or liquid baby aspirin to see how I’d react? If I reported drastically reduced pain levels, they’d know I was faking it. But I wasn’t, and they were forced to give me the real stuff on the second go-around. Bastards!

I have no proof, of course, and I might be all wrong. All I know is that the first injection they administered had ABSOLUTELY no effect. It did not diminish the pain, nor did it cause any nausea or what we in aviation call “secondary indications” - you know, like how you can just feel when a drug has entered your bloodstream? I can’t prove it, but I’ll bet they gave me a damn placebo.

4 comments:

Debby said...

It might also be that the second shot piggy backed the first one, and you needed the extra dose of painkiller to take the edge off.

When Brianna broke her arm, it was s-shaped between her elbow and wrist. I took her to ER and they did the triage, and sent her back to the waiting room. She said, "Mom, I can't sit up, I'm going to throw up..." so I went back to the triage room and said, "Listen, the child has a broken arm. Don't you have some place she could lie down, and the nurse very snottily said, "YOU DON'T KNOW THAT SHE HAS A BROKEN ARM. WE HAVE NOT DONE X-RAYS YET." (Mind you that during triage, they had not even bothered to lift back the coat draped over her shoulder to view the arm. Just that quick, the words were leaving my mouth. I said, (still cannot believe it), "Listen baby, if that arm ain't broke, I'll kiss your &(^%$&^$ ass." They looked shocked but they did come out and looked at the arm. Things began to happen rather quickly after that.

Bob Barbanes said...

Debby, I actually thought about the "cumulative effect" thing. Thing is, we *know* our bodies. We know when something is injected into us. When the nurse gave me that first injection I expected to feel...something...in addition to the abatement of pain. You cannot inject a drug right into your bloodstream without feeling it. With one hour between injections, I highly doubt that the second one would have been the "trigger." I could feel it as soon as she hit me with it. It was different.

Not to obsess - it is what it is. Lesson learned: Just shut your damn mouth, Bob! Don't kid around, don't joke - hospital people don't like to joke. They take their jobs VERY seriously, and for that I guess we should be thankful.

As you know, hospital visits are never "fun." We never go to hospitals when we're feeling good- just the opposite. How awful it must be for the nurses and doctors who deal with NOTHING but sick and injured people all day! I, for one, could not do it in a million years.

Redlefty said...

Weird -- could've sworn I commented earlier. Must be getting that DEE-mentia Debby wrote about the other day.

I wondered if maybe your treatment was due to the fact you were playing so tough with riding the bike home, driving yourself to the ER, etc...?

Bob Barbanes said...

Oh, that's entirely possible. Because I was asked a lot of questions- about the time lag between the accident and actually going to the hospital, how I got home, and then how I got to the hospital? They were acting as if I were, um, crazy. Which I'm not. But, all the above being the case, I must not have been hurt as bad as I was claiming.

Still, there was no way I was gonna leave that bike by the side of the road. Now THAT would've been crazy!