Waiting With Kandinsky

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I woke up nervous.

I think I am one of those people that can handle emotional pain more than physical pain. Maybe that’s just a thing like I really want long hair when I have short hair and I really want short hair when…you know. Regardless, I was none too excited about the prospect of having a laser beamed on my chest then a needle jammed into it – on a scar that feels pain when air hits it.

I did my labor pain breathing as practice on the long drive up to Avon. Today it was Driving Miss Ali and Jason was my Morgan Freeman. Only I was the one that ended up having to stop to pee.

I had to arrive a half hour before my appointment for numbing cream. Okay, whatever. I don’t feel like it numbed anything aside from my annoyance at some gawd-awful fashion advice I was reading about in InStyle. Well, it was a November 2010 issue, so maybe that was why.

After about 35 minutes I see this petite woman’s head pop in my room after a quick knock and she acted like she was there to break me out of jail. “Um, hi-” she said, “are you Allison? Can you come with me? I need to get your picture. Of your chest. I mean of your scar. Don’t worry it won’t be of your face…” Trailing off. It was clear she had had way too much coffee.

Picture completed. I had taken my own picture anyway. And mine didn’t have the gross goopy numbing agent in the shot. So there. She led me into the “surgery” room. More intimidating than the last room I was in, that’s for sure. Without windows to boot. But it did have a print of a Kandinsky. Impression III, Concert, 1911. I knew I was going to be waiting again, so I just stood and stared at it. I scanned every inch and saw new things with each hard look. It was interesting- I started seeing profiles and faces in the blobs of primary colored paint. And no, it wasn’t a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off moment- that was Seurat.

It was nearing an hour after I first arrived and my doctor finally walks in. Goes to the laser machine. Clicks the power switch. Nothing. Checks the outlet- it’s plugged in- moves the cord to another outlet. Nothing. I felt like we were dealing with a simple appliance or an amp, not a million-dollar piece of medical equipment owned by the Cleveland Clinic. After three nurses each attempt the feat of turning on the machine that was to change my scar’s life, they gave up. My doctor gave me a sad pouty face and apologized. “It just worked yesterday! For a little 9 year old boy.” She said. All the while they were trying to turn it on, I felt my face getting flush and my eyes welling up. This is the Cleveland Clinic! How can your laser machine be broken? I am paying a babysitter! My husband took time off from work to come with me! I’ve been waiting 10 years to try laser surgery! I geared myself up for pain today! 

They said they would call me as soon as they got someone to come in and look at it and I could reschedule. But for today I could still get the Corticosteroid injection. I didn’t know it at the time, but the reason they do the laser first (before the injection of meds) is to soften up the tissue- the needle goes in easier. I thought you needed the tiny holes from the laser for the medicine to go to the deep parts of the scar, but that’s not the case.

I opted to lay down on the table with the pillow and dug my nails into my palms. I was already fighting tears and now knew I needed to put my big girl pants on and deal with the pain. The needle isn’t what’s bad- it’s the burning of the medicine that is incredibly painful. You know this if you have been lucky enough to get a cortisone shot or the like. This ain’t no flu shot. And the great part was they could only push the needle in halfway across my scar so they took it out, gave me a minute to recoup and then did the other half. Agony.

“I’m such a baby. I gave birth twice- you think I could handle this!” I tried to joke through blubbering. “No, this hurts like hell! You did great, labor is just different- and you get a baby out of it!”, my nurse Melissa encouraged me. “Yeah, and room service and a nighttime babysitter.” I added. She got me an ice pack and apologized again for the machine malfunction, promising to call me when they have it up and running again.

I walked to the lobby and met up with Jason and proceeded to be a teary-eyed girl again. He thought it was just that painful. Oh it was, but I was more disappointed that we didn’t do the laser. That was the whole point. My Ashland Dermatologist could have jammed a needle in my chest. My whole journey led me here, to Avon, to this doctor who specialized in my type of scarring and tried new technology on it. Apparently finicky technology. Disappointed that “waiting” had found me again, for better or worse, we hopped in the car to go grab some coffee before heading back to Ashland.

My phone started ringing. I half recognized the number so I answered it.

“Hello?”

“Allison?”

“Yes.”

“It’s Melissa at the Cleveland Clinic. It’s working! How far are you, can you turn around and come back?!”

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