Life Lessons

It was going to be an easy procedure. Really, this was no big thing. I mean after all, I had given birth to three kids already in my short life and the pain of those births could never outweigh the slight prick of the needle that would numb the place where my mole was going to be removed.  Three moles removed, that’s all I needed from the doctor that day.

My husband was leaving his job working on the North Slope of Alaska in the oil field, and our health insurance would soon expire.  With everyone in good health at the time, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have some moles removed that were bothersome.  First the one on my neck/shoulder area that was always irritated by straps and clothing, then one on my right arm and one on my left leg.  Simple procedure, in and out of the office in an hour or so, so I thought.

The morning began with nausea.  I had just found out I was pregnant with our fourth child and the morning sickness was kicking in as scheduled.  I put a can of Coke in my pocket to help settle my stomach as I headed for the doctor’s office.  I love my doctor.  He has been our family doctor for most of the years of my children’s lives.  Dr. Wise is very compassionate and takes time with his patients.  I have always appreciated this about him.  On this day we exchanged lively banter as he began to prep the area around the mole on my neck for removal.

“Do needles bother you, Cate? I will be giving you a shot here to numb the area.” my doctor asked.  “No, Dr. Wise, they don’t bother me anymore.  They used to, but that was before I gave birth to three babies.  No pain compares now.”  I began my boasting with a sense of pride as I recalled the fact that I had no pain-killer for my last two births.  “I used to pass out with pain when I was a kid.  I used to pas out when I would visit friends in the hospital too.  I guess I over-empathize with people or something and if they were in pain, I would get woozy and faint.  I hated visiting people in the hospital for that reason.  I’m glad I’m over that.”  I said confidently.

“I used to hate hospitals too.” Dr. Wise said as he blobbed iodine on the area of my neck that was about to receive the shot.  “I don’t know if it was the smells, or the air or what…it used to make me nauseous…..”  Dr. Wise began his thoughts on hospitals…..

“Wait, Dr. Wise!”  I said.  I don’t know where it came from but a wave of nausea came washing over me as he spoke and I felt myself beginning to faint.  “I need to take back everything I just said to you, I’m beginning to pass out……….”

That’s all I remember.

A few minutes later I woke up to the sound of Dr. Wise’s voice asking me, “Cate!  Cate!  Are you okay?”  I came to slowly and tried to remember where I was.  To my horror I realized I had thrown up on myself and on Dr. Wise sometime during my “mental vacation”.  He was cleaning himself up and a nurse had come in to get me cleaned up.  “What the….????”  What just happened to me?

The doctor explained that he hadn’t even given me a shot yet.  I had done it again….passed out!  I remember passing out pulling my baby tooth as a first grader.  Then there was the time I fell into my plate of pancakes at breakfast when I passed out with my eyes open.  My mom had called the ambulance thinking I was dead.  I bruised my eye and gave myself a bloody nose in the process…but I wasn’t dead.  It was then that I learned that I needed to announce my feelings of fainting before they happened as to not alarm those around me.  I was trying to do that this day. 

The nurse checked my blood pressure and it was very low.  They gave  me some juice and monitored me as the doctor continued with his procedure.  I honestly don’t even remember the shot and there was no pain throughout the simple surgery.  When that mole was taken care of the nurse checked my blood pressure again only to find that it was still quite low.  With this in mind, we cancelled the subsequent mole removals.  Maybe I should come back again another time.

What happened next only deepened my embarrassment.  The doctor declared that my blood pressure was too low to walk out of the office and that they would need to escort me out in a wheelchair!  “No! No!”  I didn’t need a wheelchair!  Afterall, I only had a mole removed….from my neck!  No, my husband was there with me and he could walk me out and I could lean on his arms if I needed to.  “No.”  They insisted I use the wheelchair and they offered to wheel me out through a rear exit.  They wouldn’t be persuaded otherwise.  So there I was, with a small bandage on my neck, in a wheelchair pushed by the nurse to the back door of the office and outside to the curb where my husband Jamin pulled up and loaded me into our van.

Proverbs 16:17-18 says “Pride comes before a fall” (my paraphrase).  Maybe I should have payed attention to that truth as I touted my accomplishments.  Thank God my humbling was in front of only a handful of people.  It could always be much worse.

I laugh now at this incident, and bear the lesson well. 

I’m still skittish in hospitals.   I’m still overly empathetic to people in pain and have to be careful how much information I take in when someone is hurt, and I still try to give a warning when I feel like I am about to pass out. (I really haven’t improved much in my adult life in this area 🙂

A few weeks later I was back at the doctor’s office, only this time for a pregnancy check-up.  As the nurse was taking my blood pressure and evaluating my height and weight ratios, she asked me, “Are you allergic to anything?”  Just then Dr. Wise passed by and commented for her records…”Yes, she is….doctors and hospitals!”

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