The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Smells Like Fecal Matter or Needles Suck, Biblical Style

Edited at bottom:

I have this low brick wall about the first injections. It's easy enough to scale--I know I'll get over it with a little shimmy and maybe some skinned knees--but it's there, an obstacle between myself, needle-free, and myself, injected, that needs to be overcome. I am a needlephobe. I remember one time that I had to have a TB test and my mother didn't tell me where we were going until the car was barreling full-speed towards the doctor's office with me gripping the child-safety-locked door handle in terror. I am the sort to bolt from the car and run willy nilly away at a traffic light. I mean, when I'm a passenger. Not as a driver. That would be crazy.

Needles were the worst part of treatments the first time around (beyond all the negatives. Oh, and the night of the exploding follicle) and I knew needles would be my biggest challenge this time around. I've never been the sort who can casually give myself a shot of Follistim as I chat on the phone. I'm more of the gasping-my-way-through-the-injection sort. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. It doesn't matter how many I do--I never get casual about it. Because I am a big wuss.

My clinic makes you take an injections class if you've been away from treatments for a while (or if it's your first time through). Josh has to come along too and if he choose to forgo the class, he needs to get a notarized document admitting his decision to leave me high-and-dry in needleland as well as his promise not to inject me with any of the substances we are picking up from the pharmacy. We've used a notary before--wills, important government documents; he works at our bank. We couldn't really wrap our minds around the idea of sauntering into the bank in our little town and saying to Bill, "hey, sweetie, let me tell you a little bit about my wonky hoohaahooterus so you can notarize this paper for us." So Josh is coming too.

I received a phone call from my clinic reminding me about said class with a few instructions including the advice to eat a light lunch because I would be injecting myself with saline solution and this makes "some women queasy." Suddenly, it felt like the bricklayers had added a dozen new layers to my wall. I was going to have to start injections--even if they're just saline solution, they still involve a needle--earlier than I thought AND I was going to have to give said injection in front of all the other couples. Therefore, I won't be able to do my usual ten minute song and dance with an ice cube, eye closing, and gasping. I'm going to have to suck it up. And pretend I'm normal.

I don't know--giving myself an injection in front of an audience (even an audience who are all self-injecting at the same time) is sort of like asking me to take a dump with the door open. While smiling.

Speaking of taking a dump, can I share the thing I think about every single time I do an injection? There are a plethora of chiasms in the Bible. A chiasm is an inverted story and the term comes from the Greek letter, chi, which looks like an X. Get it? The story is going one way, there's a turning point, and the rest of the story continues as an inverse of the first part. Do you remember the bomb episodes in season two of Grey's Anatomy? It starts out with George having a dream where he sees all three girls in the shower and it's really sexy and then it ends with George actually seeing all three girls in the shower, washing the blood off Meredith after the bomb goes off and it's decidedly not sexy. Well, if you went through those two episodes, with the turning point being the moment Meredith placed her hand in the body, you'd see the story move as an inverse on itself.

The literary term is only important because it is the reason I wrote a paper in graduate school on the chiasm that exists in Judges 3. The chiasm occurs during the murder of Eglon by Ehud. Eglon, the king, is this fat man, sitting upstairs in a room that could also serve as a bathroom. Ehud asks for a private audience with the king because he has a secret message (apparently, in Biblical times, you could say you had a secret message and everyone just cleared out of the room). Why he asks for this audience where the king defecates or why it is granted sort of seems beside the point to the modern reader. We just accept on face-value that the king's messengers believed that the king liked a chit chat while he shat.

Ehud's secret message turned out to be a dagger in the stomach. The king, who wasn't shitting beforehand was certainly covered in excrement as the dagger disappeared into all of his rolls of fat (apparently--and I'm not making this up because I delivered a lecture on this at university and everyone discussed this with a straight face--if you push a knife far enough into the belly, the anal sphincter will explode). The king's men have no clue that a murder has taken place and don't try to open the door because they smell the excrement and see the locked door and assume that the king is holding an audience for one in the bathroom (talk about multi-tasking). Ehud gets away and rallies the troops before the Moabites realize their leader is dead. And beyond that, the dagger is buried deeply in the body so they can't figure out how their leader died (the enormous amount of blood pouring from his stomach would have been a tip-off for me, but I've watched many crime shows).

There is a point to all of this. That dagger entering Eglon's stomach and the explosive shitting runs through my mind every single time I have that needle in my stomach up to the hilt. I don't think about this as I have blood drawn, but there's something about a sharp object and my stomach that makes me think about poor Eglon and wonder how far is "far enough."

Not because I believe that a sub-cue needle has the ability to make my sphincter explode, but because grad school ruined me and my ability to give myself injections in peace. Or, perhaps, it's just the potty-humourous image I need in order to scale that wall.

On a totally unrelated to feces or needles side note, I am starting to write an infertility column for BlogHer that will run every Thursday starting tomorrow. It will be somewhat similar to the Friday Blog Roundup (which I'll still write every Friday here--there will just be two separate roundups now--more bloggy goodness) without my incessant ramblings yet with discussion of current articles and issues thrown into the mix. And sometimes I'll just talk about some aspect of infertility or pregnancy loss. I see this not only as an opportunity to introduce the greater BlogHer community to infertility and loss blogs but also as a chance to use Microsoft Paint yet again so I can have a linky icon on my sidebar that takes you directly to the column each Thursday. So mark your calendars and check it out tomorrow. And hopefully you won't mind if I tell the world how great you all are.


It's up...the first BlogHer post, that is...I also created an icon for the sidebar (glance to the right and maybe scroll up or down a bit) that is linked to the current post. Every Thursday, I'll change the link so it goes to the current column. Hope you enjoy the new column and that I do well by our community. Thank you for all of the well-wishes. Now I have to go read blogs--double the roundups means that I get to read double the posts!


Jen said...

Cool opportunity for blogher.

And I've been trying to remember the word chiasm for years! They used to fascinate me in college. So, thanks! :) Sorry about the needles. I couldn't do it.

Michell said...

I believe that we all have at least one thing in life that we are seriously afraid of. Rationally or not. While mine isn't needles (thank goodness a nurse afraid of needles would be bad) when I'm stuck in a room with a spider I do plenty of the crazy dancing around and squaking about it and throwing things at it. Being afraid of needles is very common and I'm sure there will be others there who are pretending to not be bothered by the injections. Good luck

K77 said...

I am also needlephobic. I cannot recommend Emla cream highly enough. Seriously. I used it for all injections and blood tests. Needles do not come anywhere near me unless I've got Emla.

Beagle said...

Emla cream's not a bad idea! Though it may not be the pain that causes you the fear in which case I'd suggest three glasses of wine or one Long Island Iced Tea.

I have no needle fears so I can't relate directly but I do know that even fearless, the whole using yourself as a pin cushion thing sucks big time. So if you need someone to talk you through it, we can not so casually chat on the phone while you inject yourself.

Good Luck and a BIG congrats on the new column!

Samantha said...

Congrats for getting the column on BlogHer!

I've never liked doing the injections either, and as Michell said, I doubt you'll be the only one sucking it up in the class. Just keep that in mind!

Tammy's Thought Pattern said...

I almost spit out my coffee as I was reading the chiasm part. I could actually picture the entire scene in my head, graphically.

I am lucky I guess, needles don't bother me and DH is good about giving them too. I am terrified of going under for procedures. I feel too vulnerable.

Good luck with the injection class.

Ms Heathen said...

Thank you so, so much for posting this.

I am really scared by the thought of injecting myself. Fortunately, I was given the option of taking Nafarelin nasal spray for the down regulation phase of our IVF cycle, so at least managed to postpone the inevitable for a couple of weeks. We're going back for our down regulation scan tomorrow, and I know that I am not going to be able to delay it any longer - I'm going to have to bite the bullet and learn how to administer the Menopur injections.

You made me realise that there are others out there who share my fear, but have managed to overcome it. Suddenly, I feel far more entitled to my anxieties!

And congratulations on the new BlogHer column - I'll look forward to checking it out tomorrow.

Jendeis said...

Talmud study and a class on injections? Mel, this is why we all love you!

Also, thank you for the example from Grey's cause I wouldn't have understood it any other way. :)

You will do fine. Sending out good anti-sphincter-hitting thoughts.

Bean said...

Congrats on the new column. I look forward to reading it. And good luck with the injections -- I'll be thinking happy needle thoughts for you.

Jess said...

I'm sorry about the needle thing. I never really thought about how it would be if you hated needles. :(

And dude....ew on the explosive crap thing.

kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kate said...

That was too funny. I, too, am terrified of needles, and I think that is at least a tiny, itty-bitty small part of why I haven't gone further with fertility treatments. I picture myself, like you said, barreling toward the clinic with my husband driving, and me fruitlessly yanking the child-locked handle (uh, only I think you were a child at that point in your story, and also, I would likely think that any RE worth her salt would probably decline to treat a patient who clearly was highly distressed and being forced into that treatment, but I digress...).
Yeah, me and needles are so not friendly.

And CONGRATS on getting the BlogHer column. Good on you!

Schatzi said...

Congrats on the blogher column!

Oh, and you are SO SMART! I didn't even catch the whole chiasm thing on Greys...

deanna said...

Sending you (and Josh!) much needle-courage!!! I know you will do terrific-ly, with a brave heart and a steady hand. =)

Can't wait to catch you on BlogHer!Yahoo!

Lori said...

I love that reading your blog makes me smarter and more well-rounded. I had never come across either "chiasm" or Eglon before. I'm ready for my next cocktail party!

BlogHer is very smart.

Wusses Unite!

sltbee69 said...

Congrats about the column on Blogher! I've never done the needle thing, hell not even a 10th of what many of you do, but let me just say that I hope that the needle class and all the injections go better than expected.

Jen said...

I remember our lesson on using needles, including the trigger shot in which my husband proceeded to break the needle in the sample tush.

We were thankful we only had the nurse as an audience. And it didn't happen in my tush.

Good luck with the class. Hopefully there will be others not so needle happy in attendance!

Soupy said...

I could've written the whole 'fear of injection' piece myself, but you did it so much better! LOL Luckily for me, Chris takes over that part and I just have to squeeze my eyes shut and sing loudly to myself! LOL

Congrats on the BlogHer!

JJ said...

Awesome news about blogher--you are the perfect person to do it!
I wish I could take the shots for you!

loribeth said...

Mel, you certainly have an encyclopedic knowledge of the most amazing topics. ; ) Congratulations, looking forward to seeing the BlogHer column! P.S. I always found that icing the injection area until it was almost totally numb helped me a lot.

katedaphne said...

I'm a wuss too. *Raises hand* I'm not scared of needles. I just have a really low tolerance for pain, or as I prefer to say, I'm sensitive.

I'm sorry, I would absolutely refuse to do even a saline shot in front of strangers. Hello, what happened to PRIVACY? Plus, I prefer my injects in the thigh and I've dropped trou for enough people in this process, I wouldn't do it for a bunch of IVF classmates!!! I'd take their dumb class but they'd have to schedule me for private lessons.

Ann said...

Congrats on the IF column! I think you'll be a great representative of the IF community. (I haven't had to undergo the shots part of IF, but if I do, I think I may pass out just from thinking about it.)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful news on the column! How are you getting these great gigs??? So jealous! What's the new icon going to be? I'm thinking a literal column would be fun. Can't wait to read more.

chicklet said...

I totally saw the BlogHer thing and was like WHY CAN'T I SEE IT. Can't wait! Expose us all!

On the needles, I used to be a phobe but am over it until the one I had to do in the clinic - like you said, doing it IN FRONT of people, that's just horrible. That one really freaked me out cuz I can do anything I set my mind to, but put me in front of an audience, ack!

On the home needles, when the time comes, set yourself up with a treat. I did Rolos last round, I will be doing Toffifees or Purdy's this round. I'm not a phobe anymore but it's still emotional and sometimes it burns and you just so deserve to reward yourself after doing what so many people out there really could never do.

Sunny said...

You completely amaze me! You ROCK!!!! You are my hero!!! I am so proud of you! AND You can do the shots in stellar fashion!

Meghan said...

Congrats on the new column!

And I think you're fantastic with shots because it was your comments on my post the night before my first one that actually got me through it. I was seriously read to call the whole thing off. If you could talk me off the ledge, I'm sure you're great with them.

Really weird about having to inject yourself at the class. I would not be cool with that. So glad I didn't have to

Denise said...

Having to inject myself in front of an audience sounds like one of my worse nightmares. I don't even like DH watching. And no matter how many injections I do, I always hold my breath and gather my courage before jabbing it in. Good luck at the class!

Can't wait to read the new column at BlogHer. Yet another thing you give all of us to look forward to each week!

Anonymous said...

so very informative. I'm terrified of needles too, can't seem to do them well myself because of the fight-or-flight response. if I look away, it's much better. at least I have some cushion, but I can see how it could hurt without. icing to numb really helped me too, esp. with progest.

huge congrats on the blogher gig. can't wait to check it out. you go girl! ~luna

m said...

Hooray for your BlogHer gig! Awesome news. I can't wait to read your new column. And good luck with the needles. You're not alone on that one. But while the emla does work wonders, its not the actual injection but the thought of it that gets me dizzy. And that was before reading this post which has given me all kinds of new images on which to fixate. Um, thanks?

Anonymous said...

congrats on the new column! Just read it- AWESOME job.

Tina said...

Congrats on the column on BlogHer! You are too prolific!

Wishing you so much luck (and patience) with this new round with needles. May this be only one round...and you find a new addition for your family on it's way!

Bea said...

Your mind is a truly mysterious place.



Vacant Uterus said...

I'm just catching up on blogs and I had to enjoy a little chuckle at your expense. You *would* think of Ehud. This is the point where, if we were facing each other in person, I would give you a hug. It's not easy. Everything in us screams "Are you crayz?! Why would you poke that into yourself? That's going to hurt!"

When I was training to be a nursing assistant, we had to prick ourselves for the glucose monitor. We learned how to use the needlesticks, the monitors and how the patients felt all in one smooth move. I hated it. It was the worst part. I knew it wouldn't hurt *that* much. And it didn't. it barely hurt at all. But the brick wall was still there. It took me a good five minutes to prick myself.

I'll be thinking of you. And when it comes my time to start injecting myself with something bigger than a tiny sticker, I'll be thinking of Ehud and you can laugh right back at me.