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Posts Tagged ‘cortisone’

  1. The Sport of Complaining

    July 6, 2014 by Diane

    champion banner

    Somewhere in the history of humankind, complaining became a sport. A game. And I’ll admit, I play it. Willingly.

    It starts innocently enough.

    Someone asks, “How are you?”

    And I reply, “Oh, so-so.”

    I believe in honesty. Why pretend I’m feeling chipper when I’m in pain?

    If, for example, I’ve just had a second cortisone shot in my hip, and the doctor slid a long needle deep into my inflamed bursa, and then moved that needle around before the cold numbing spray took effect, and my hand shot out for her wrist and she asked, “Have you had enough? Should I stop?” and I squeaked, “No. Keep going,” and she continued grinding the needle around, and my hand continued grasping air, and she repeated, “Have you had enough?” as if she wouldn’t let up unless I yelled UNCLE!  If I’ve just endured an afternoon of torture in the doctor’s office and someone asks how I’m doing, I say, “So-so.”

    And the other person commiserates. “Yeah, me too.”

    That’s not what I want to hear. I want to hear, “Let me buy you a chocolate truffle.” And so I elaborate. “I just had a cortisone shot from hell, and let me tell you…that doctor did things with a syringe that should be illegal.”

    Do I get a sympathetic clucking? No. The other person one-ups. Pulls out an even more painful scenario—a torn rotator cuff—and the game is on.

    “I can barely hobble around,” I say.

    “I need surgery,” she says.

    And on it goes until one of us backs down…usually the other person…because I’m hooked, I’m seething, I’m determined to win this match if it means I have to admit that I’m at death’s door.

    I’m exaggerating of course. But I’m well aware of the game, and aware, sometimes, that I’m playing it. Especially when I start hauling in evidence to back up my opinion.

    “Studies prove that cortisone can damage…”

    This is not a wise tactic, because the skilled player will fire off five studies via email that contradicts the point I’m trying to make, and list five experts that she personally knows (or invented) to back her up.

    There are degrees of complaining. Some people have a Master’s. There is no winning with a Master Complainer. I’ve tried. Oh yes, I’ve tried.

    I can choose not to engage. I can look at the bright side. I can say, “I survived a needle. It’s a good day,” and leave it at that. But the truth is, I’m in pain. And I’ve got to share it with someone, like a weather report from my own personal universe. “I feel rotten,” I whine, as if whining will make me feel better. And someone who doesn’t play the game may respond, “Good for you!”

    “Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “If you feel pain, it means you’re alive. Congratulations!” and they’re gone.

    Game over.

    Yes, I admit…I’ve played the complain game. And I’ve won. I’ve conquered. And then I’ve looked around and there was no one left to conquer. Everyone had vanished.

    And what fun is complaining if there’s no one to hear?


  2. There’s Nothing Up My Sleeve

    March 17, 2014 by Diane

    hand extended

    Whose big idea was it to consider handshaking an acceptable practice?

    According to Wikipedia (that trusted resource written by anybody with the ability to login and type), the handshake has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks. The custom was meant to show that the bearer of the hand had no weapon. “See? Nothing up my toga.”

    What compelled the other Greek to grasp the hand and shake it? Was it to see if anything fell out of the toga, if there was a weapon stuffed up the sleeve?

    What those toga-wearing philosophizers hadn’t considered was the lowly bacteria; the secret weapon invisible to the naked eye. That outstretched hand…who knows where it’s been? It could be lined with the plague. Or a skin-eating organism. Or fish from last night’s dinner.

    Usually I try to have my hands occupied so I don’t have to engage in mutual shaking. But there I was, sitting on the examination table in the orthopedic department at the hospital wearing paper shorts, when Dr. Bloomberg walked in, his hand thrust out for a good hearty shake.  

    The fact that Dr. Bloomberg hadn’t washed his hands first led me to believe that he wasn’t a real doctor. I came to this conclusion because the nurse, after ushering me into the exam room, told me there was a doctor in the department who used to be an air conditioning repairman in the hospital. This was in answer to my question, “What’s the difference between a physiatrist and a physiologist?” There was more to the nurse’s answer, but that was the only part I heard.

    The gloveless Dr. Bloomberg, I feared, was the repairman.

    “So, what’s going on with your hip?” the fake doctor asked.

    I explained that my hip hurt when I walked, it hurt when I slept, it hurt when I sit and it hurt when I got up from sitting. I told him I’d tried physical therapy and chiropractic and yoga, I’d tried ignoring it and babying it and icing it and heating it, and the pain had been going on for years now and I had a pretty good idea that what I had was bursitis, and I wanted a shot. I wanted a shot of cortisone, providing I wouldn’t suffer any horrible side effects, like sudden death. “And by the way, what’s the difference between a physiatrist and a physiologist?” I asked.

    He felt my hip, and then sat on his little rolling stool. “A physiatrist,” he explained, “works in rehabilitation departments. Physiology is the science of rehabilitation.” He said more than that, but that’s all I needed to hear; he sounded legit. Or well-read. When he had run out of story about his medical background, he gave his quads a light tap with his palms and stood.

    “I’m going to go fill up,” he said, “and then I’ll give you your shot.”

    And off he went.

    To fill up.

    Five minutes later he returned. Full.

    “Ready?” he asked. This time he didn’t offer a hand to shake, but they both looked empty. What had he filled? Was it stuffed up his sleeve? Those Greeks might have been onto something.

    I turned onto my side and faced the wall. He snapped on some gloves, slid the waistband of my shorts down, and felt around for the tenderest spot on my hip. Nothing. He asked me to find the tenderest spot. Nothing. “Well, I’ll just pick a spot,” he said, and did, and it must have been the rightest, most tenderest spot, because when he inserted the needle the pain lifted me off the exam table. I think I levitated for five minutes before he withdrew the needle.

    “There,” he said. “That’s it. You should feel better immediately.” Anything would feel better than having a needle jabbed in your bursa. He pulled off the gloves. “Let me know how you’re doing in a couple of weeks,” he said.

    And thrust out his hand to shake.