Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"What fresh hell is this?"

Yesterday was a very bad day; I felt down, actually the most down I've felt since the beginning, and for all the wrong reasons.

We're on vacation so like any other couple with a home that means lots of work :) We got up early yesterday morning and repainted the porch, the new one we added last winter, and were nearly done when the phone rang.

It was Dr. Henderson, Husband signed quickly, and he and Husband talked on the phone a very long time while I fidgeted and wondered why it could possibly take so long to say that the CI Evaluation Unit in Halifax had set a date.

It turns out Dr. H. has been discussing my case with some colleagues and doing some research; and while the wait for the CI eval is still very much on, he wanted to try a new therapy which carried "some" possibility of hearing recovery.

The treatment involves steroid injections directly into the ear under local anaesthetic; in fact, he is considering inserting tubes into my ears to facilitate repeated rounds of injections.

My reaction to this news was less than overwhelming anticipation. In fact, I had a good hard cry, the first one I've had since my deafness.

I know that Dr. H. is a very good doctor. I also know he has taken a personal interest in my case. He expresses himself to Husband as being genuinely... how can I put it?... grieved that this has happened to me, and wants very badly to help reverse or lessen it. I trust him a great deal.

But the prospect of yet more painful and invasive treatments, which I did not feel in my heart really had any hope of succeeding, just filled me with despair and fear. On the heels of the CAT scan and the MRI and all the blood tests it felt like another creative torture, and a particularly hideous one. Shakespeare knew what it felt like: "What fresh hell is this?"

I've had too many procedures under local anaestetic to put any faith in such airy-fairy "freezing" nonsense. I believe it's a ruse the medical profession use, bless them, an illusion to steel themselves against the realization that sometimes you have to inflict a lot of pain on conscious people. But it doesn't work, at least not for me. And now they want to stick great needles in my ears and poke around and stick in tubes and such. The only good news is that it won't interfere with a cochlear implant later.

I wished in that moment with my head on the dining room table that he'd never heard of it, never learned it in medical school, or never researched it. I wished that if he had, he'd thought better of offering me the option. I wish he'd kept his steroid injections and his tiny tubes to himself.

Because, given the option, how can I say no? I feel I don't have any choice. If they say, "We're just going to dip you in this nice bath of tepid hydrocloric acid and dump in a few electric eels, there's a good girl, it might restore your hearing" I really have no choice but to say "Okay - as long as it's only tepid, and the electric eels shouldn't last too long at least!"

Husband says no; he says I have a choice and I can say 'no' to this. But I can't. I would feel I was letting everybody down if I didn't take every opportunity to grab at the brass ring of hearing which is offered. Everybody who has supported me, and as you know from this blog, they've been many and varied and generous.

"Could you forgive me," I asked him, "if I didn't try this?"
He paused to consider. "Yes," he said firmly.
"Well, you know what? I think I actually believe you." (And I do. He meant it. At least, he knew in his heart he would try, and he believed he could.) "But it doesn't matter, because I couldn't forgive myself."

So now I am waiting for 3 pm Friday when I go to the hospital and get whatever the hell this entails done (Dr. Henderson unwisely compared it to "a visit to the dentist"; the wrong analogy for someone whose worst and powerfully overwhelming phobia is dental visits, to the point where I had to be drugged just to get me out of the house and into the car). I dread it so deeply it is in the back of my mind all the time, no matter what I am doing. But certainly that initial flash of irrational and misplaced resentment at Dr. H. has passed (I knew even at the time it was irrational and insane which was what reassured me I was still rational and sane). I am extraordinarly lucky to have someone of his stature (one which is constantly reinforced to me by medical personnel doing the testing, and by friends who are family members or parents of his other patients) take such a personal interest in the case. I do not wish that he had never learned it, and I do not wish that he had not inadvertantly removed choice by offering me the choice.

Because, you know, here's the thing:

what if it works?



Blogger Anton said...

What color is your hair? I've heard more than once that redheads tend to need more anesthetic. My father (whose mother had red hair) says dentists never give him enough dope on the first try.

5:37 p.m.  

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