January 06, 2009

Smiley faces advertising pain

I hate those smiley well groomed beautiful people advertising painful experiences. Come to our clinic for a painful examination, we promise to make it enjoyable. Along those lines. Cold metal instruments, shiny polished stainless steel surfaces fill me and many others with terror. Examination tables that look like they are frequently used for torture sessions- not for making people feel better. What about that previously symphatetic friendly doctor, who carries on with an examination and a terrified patient begs him/her to stop? Because it is too awful, too painful, too overwhelming. "Just a minute, it will be over soon". When it finally is over, it is too late.
Patients/clients. One look at the shiny metal instruments and the first thought is to RUN away NOW, save your life. But wait a minute, am I not here to save my own life.. but why does it need to hurt like hell?

Wound drain- my own experience tells me not all drains or plastic tubes sticking out of a surgical wound are painful. They may be necessary, but not always painful. Sometimes they are. Depends of the material they are made of, location of the tube and yes, it might depend on the skill of the medical professional, who decided to bury it in "there". Some more superficial drain slide out easily, some need a bit more work to get them out. Once they are out, the relief is almost instant- that is the removal process has been painless or effortless. Out they come, who'd want to drag a drain in them for the rest of their lives?

Cold metal instruments- my pet hate. They fill me with this "endoftheworldiscomingandnothingcanchangeitgottarunrunrunrunrun"-feeling and nothing can stop it. I guess part of it depends on why/how/where these instruments are going to be used. Dental instruments. Dreadful. Vaginal speculum is a big no-no. Don't even try. Nasal speculum. Not any better. Surgical instruments: scalpels, knives, forceps, tenaculums etc. Under anesthesia one does not much care, but seeing the instruments and their cold lifeless skin on the table in the morning sun is not at all uplifting. Scissors, dilators, kidney basins, hooks, retractors, screws.
Are these for used for torture?

Sterile packs- once you open them, the secret is out. Who'd honestly want to see the contents?

My problem and the biggest challenge is to stop questioning. One I start I can't stop. Why this one? What is this used for? Endless list of questions. What is the benefit of this procedure? Will it be painful? Who would not want to be in control when it comes to their health? Who would not want to have the option to say no? Why not ask for a second opinion? Explanation? Do I have the right to say no?
What if I don't have my teeth checked this year? I feel fine, the teeth look "ok", no toothache, no problems. What if I am so scared of another cancer diagnosis that I don't go for the yearly thyroid scan? What if I think I don't need a cervical smear because the last one years ago was painful and humiliating and scary and I don't want any more pain? What if I don't want to take part of this year's screening tests, because stepping into a clinic or hospital and simply seeing a stethoscope fills me with utter helplessness and terror? Is this an attitude problem, being ignorant and arrogant or just being scared?

It is a blessing to be healthy, not to have to undergo painful and more or less undignified examinations. Thank God. But when it is necessary to search for a cure or relief, then we all need to have all the necessary information and alternatives to make an informed decision about the treatment. What are the consequences not to go for treatment? What if one has had an awful painful experience and there is no way they are ready to undergo the same again? Will this painful treatment cure me or just give me few more pain filled years? Painless treatment is of course somewhat easier to accept than a painful one.
Cyberspace is full of stories of painful experiences, some of them can even be encouraging- an individual survived somehow, why not me? More stories every day. Some of them so desperate, lonely, sad, drowning. How did this person go through an experience like this, and is now so traumatized that there is no way out? People, who have received an urgent appointment, but no explanation as to why. Urgent? Is this dead serious or just a routine appointment? People, who have had a procedure done, but had no help or support, because it was all too "sterile and impersonal"? People, who read a letter saying you have something "serious" going on, here's your urgent appointment, take ibuprofen and come as you are. Never mind that you get to wait two weeks for the "urgent" appointment.
Traumatized by an experience in hospital, whether it was you or someone you know.

Come to think of it, I might still attend my screening tests, but because the doc decided a sedative is not needed even though I am scared to death, I might just have some cognac. It keeps me warm, I hope, It makes me relaxed, I hope. It won't make my breath stink, I hope or make me lose my balance and fall, I hope.
My share of painful experiences.

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