By Mark W. Danielson
Here’s a great plot for a horror story. A patient visits a back pain clinic and gets more agony than relief. It begins with being ignored at the front desk and then being greeted by an angry nurse who escorts him into the back room among multiple victims on gurneys. His curtain is drawn long enough to change into hospital garb before being opened so all can witness his IV being inserted. Left staring at the ceiling, the victim then inspects every rusty bolt in the converted factory as loaded gurneys are wheeled back and forth in front of him. Ninety minutes later and shaking from the cold, the anesthesiologist says, “Time for a nap,” and the victim falls into a groggy state. Having been wheeled under bright lights and rolled onto his stomach, pain rips through his shoulders as his arms are brought forward and legs raised to prepare for a foot long needle. The next thing he knows, the patient awakens in the recovery room.
Checking his body for missing parts, he is relieved to find everything is intact. Unfortunately, that included the back pain. His stomach groans when the doctor schedules another visit. On his way out, he notices a sinister grin from the nurse from hell.
After the second injection yields the same result, X-rays show the victim has a compression fracture. Assuring him this is an easy repair, the doctor says the patient must be awake for this one in case he nicks a nerve. When the time comes, lying awake, face down and deadened from the lower back down, the doctor strikes a nerve as if acting on his own premonition. With pain shooting down the patient’s leg, the doctor calmly says, “This is why we keep you awake,” adding they took a biopsy as a precaution. Suddenly concerned, the patient contemplates that while waiting for the medicine to diminish so he can put weight on his legs. Eyeing Hell Nurse, he watches her make her rounds, numbing everyone with her gaze. When he learns his biopsy is missing – he is convinced Hell Nurse was at fault. Although the repair fixed his sharp pain, the rest hangs like sewer stink.
Not satisfied, the doc said, “Once you’re heeled, we’ll get you back for another procedure.” Mulling this over, the patient remembers the victim in Stephen King's Misery and wonders if this is a bad dream. He watches a dozen people come and go while recovering, wondering if anyone feels better afterwards. His missing biopsy keeps popping into his head, and yet he still returns for a fourth procedure. This time before the privacy curtain is drawn, he insists on speaking to the doctor first. Reluctantly, Hell Nurse releases her grip, but before walking off, mentions something about an implant. Now left to his thoughts but fully clothed, he contemplates his future as more gurneys are paraded by. When the doctor shows up an hour later, he convinces him he really needs this procedure to determine where the pain was coming from. Submitting to the IV, Hell Nurse promptly screws it up, and although the doctor does the next one, it hurts more than any before. To make matters worse, the doc yells at his nurse for mentioning implants, and then assures the patient this is only another pain blocking injection. Now all the patient can think of is a bad joke -- Why is pain like a cockroach.? Because it resists pain block injections!
Clearly, there is a time when even the most loyal patient cries Uncle, and now this patient is screaming it. It matters not that the doc wants him back for a disc repair, there is NO way this patient is ever returning to THAT office. Turns out it was a good thing, too, because a consulting neurosurgeon (read second opinion) says definitely NO to more surgery. Instead, get in the pool and do physical therapy. As you might imagine, this is a true story and I was the victim. My compression fracture repair was good, but the second opinion was even better. As for Hell Nurse, don’t be surprised if she shows up in one of my stories . . .