Wandering Thoughts

July 1, 2009

Spray on Anesthetic

Filed under: Reactive Arthritis — terence @ 8:40 pm
Tags: ,

I don’t think spray on anesthetic ever really caught on. It must have seemed like a good idea – local anesthetic that could be applied without a needle. No need for all that nasty jabbing and piercing. It sure seemed good to me, back in 1999, when the rheumatologist at Charing Cross Hospital offered to use it when he drained the fluid off my softball sized knee. I’ve never got on with needles. It’s almost a phobia. As I waited for my appointment I’d been pacing round the waiting room trying to think brave thoughts, disturbing the old ladies queued up for their gold-shots. As it was, the draining of my knee already involved a big, thick needle through which the fluid was to be sucked out. So one less needle seemed like a great idea. “Sure, I’ll give it a go.”

And now I know why spray on anesthetic never caught on – it doesn’t work. It made my skin slightly numb but that was it. The fluid draining needle just laughed at that, cut like a dagger through my skin and gnawed on as many nerve endings as it could. I was in agony from the start. Things didn’t get better when the rheumatologist started squeezing my knee to get the fluid out.

“Ow. Ow. Ow!”
“How’s that anaesthetic working?”
“Not so goo-ooooouu-ooouuu-dddddd.”
“Nurse, I think you’re going to have to restrain the patient.”

The nurse, I can’t remember her name – although, oddly, I do remember she was from Winchester – pinned me back against the bed. The draining continued. I wasn’t particularly brave.

“Arrrrgggghhhh. Oh god stop. Stop please. The needle, it’s killing me! ARRGGHHH”

He didn’t stop. Although, sometime, maybe halfway through the process, he did look up and pause for a moment.

“Nurse,” his voice took on a thoughtful tone, “do you think we should close the door to the waiting room. Perhaps?”
Both the nurse and I turned to look. The door. We’d all forgotten. Wide open. The whole time. Conveying my screams.

Later, after it had all ended, I limped back out. The waiting room was still full. With little old ladies. Most looking quite a lot paler than they did when I went in.

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