Thursday, January 27, 2005

trip to the doctor's office, version 3

I was barely through the door when the doctor and two nurses ran over.

Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, what the hell happened?"
Me: "I'm not really sure, I just..."
Dr. Steinburg: "Don't talk... Let's get you to a room first.. I want that bandaged up before you lose any more blood."

After being escorted to a private room, the nurses wrapped up my arm. One nurse remained, while the other went to get some equipment. I was feeling a little light-headed, but I don't think that I was in shock. I seemed to be very cognizant of the entire experience.

Dr. Steinburg: "Are you in pain?"
Me: "No... I mean, there's a reason for that, but it's a long story."
Nurse: "Son, do you know where your hand is? If you have it with you, we might be able to reattach it."
Me: "I honestly have no idea where it is... I don't know what happened to it.. I was just trying to get my subway pass out, and knew something was wrong when I couldn't feel my wallet when I reached into my pocket."
Nurse: "Just sit back and try to relax."

Dr. Steinburg: "Rand, if it was anyone else talking, I wouldn't believe it. I have got to hear this story."
Me: "Well, it is an interesting story I guess."
Nurse: "I can't wait to hear this!"
Me: "It all started yesterday, when I realized that there was no hot water. I don't know what was wrong with the water heater, but between it not working and it being freezing outside, the water was ice-cold."
Dr. Steinburg: "I have no idea where this is going... your stories that start like this are my favorites."
Me: "I couldn't bare to take a real shower under such conditions, so I decided to give myself a minor sponge bath. I can't handle going too long without washing my hair gets all itchy and greasy, but the last time that the water was cold, it was fixed later that day. I figured that I could just wash my hair when I got home from work. Now, I didn't actually have a rag or sponge to use, so I had to use a sock."
Dr. Steinburg: "Hmm, we'll have to discuss that later, but go on."
Me: "A sock isn't exactly an ideal instrument with which to wash yourself, so I was dying to take a real shower after getting home, but there was still no hot water. It was possible that the water heater was fixed, but just needed some time to heat up the tank, so it was possible that I'd be able to shower in the morning. As a backup plan, I filled the bathtub with water, figuring that it would warm up to room-temperature over night."
Nurse: "Smart thinking."
Me: "Thanks, I thought so too. When I finally got up this morning, I found the water still icey, and the bathtub empty... it had slowly drained out over night."
Dr. Steinburg: "Back to the sock then? Couldn't you have at least bought a rag after the first time?"
Me: "Yeah, I actually didn't think of that. I wasn't wild about revisiting the sock, and I definitely wanted to wash my hair, but you don't understand how cold it was."
Nurse: "God, you've really had a horrible day."
Me: "This actually bothered me more than the hand thing. Anyway, I leaned into the shower to wash my hair, but it was so cold that it felt like it was burning my scalp. After that experience, I was quite hesitant to do the same to my body... but the sponge-bathing is less effective every day that you do it. I went back and forth on this... I'd try the sock, stick my leg in the shower, try the sock again, etc."

The other nurse returned to the room with an IV drip and some other machinery.

Dr. Steinburg: "Loretta, sit down... Rand's telling us what happened. I'll fill you in later."
Loretta: "But..."
Dr. Steinburg: "Quiet, Loretta!"
Me: "Okay... this whole thing was getting ridiculous... I had to make a decision. In one scenario, I would be ineffectively bathed, but in the other, I would have to endure the cold, which would probably make me bitch about it directly or indirectly for three blog posts..."

The pager in Dr. Steinburg's pocket started beeping.
Dr. Steinburg: "Damn, I really should take this. Fuck it... go on with your story, Rand."

Me: "I was about to puss out and just stick with the sponge-bath, when I remembered my Jedi training."
Dr. Steinburg: "Ahh yes... here's where it gets interesting."
Me: "I knew that the cold water wouldn't do too much damage if I would jump in, soap up, then jump in again to rinse off.... but feeling cold really sucks. So I switched off my feeling of touch... when I do this, I can still feel things enough to function... you know.. I can feel the pen in my hand, but I don't feel pain. Pain becomes like a secondary thought that I have to concentrate to be aware of."
Dr. Steinburg: "Interesting... your powers amaze me."
Me: "It's just a focus trick really. After doing that, I had no trouble taking a shower, but I only like to do this as a last resort. Our minds are made to feel pain for a reason... it prevents us from doing things that hurt our bodies."
Nurse: "Wow... you really are intriguing. Do you think you could teach me things like that?"
Me: "You? No, probably not."
Dr. Steinburg: "Please, continue with your story.... I still don't see how this relates to you losing your hand."
Me: "Well, like I said... I find switching my tactile sensation off to be potentially dangerous... pain is generally a good thing. I had wasted so much time trying to decide whether to use the sock or the shower, that I was going to be late for work; I was so rushed that I forgot to turn my sense of pain back on. All I know is I did my normal thing... I had two hands when I left my apartment, and I only had one when I tried to reach for my subway pass. Anything could have happened during those five minutes inbetween, and unless I visually saw it happening, I'd have no idea that it happened."
Dr. Steinburg: "Another amazing story, Rand. You've really got to stop by more often... although next time, make it a social visit, rather than a professional one."
Nurse: "I wish I had known that you were this interesting before you lost your hand... we could have dated, but now..... well, you know... since you're a cripple and all."
Loretta: "Can I say something now?"
Dr. Steinburg: "No!"