As most of you know, I’ve been a nurse for almost a decade now. (Wait – a decade? When did I get so old?!?!) During my years as a nurse, I’ve encountered all sorts of patients, both good ones and the not-so-good ones.
So when it’s my turn to be a patient, I try really hard to be a good patient.
(In case you’re wondering, a “good” patient is one who doesn’t freak the heck out, jerk away from the nurse or doctor when we’re trying to do something that’s for your benefit, make a million entirely unreasonable requests, and is generally pleasant to be around. There are some exceptions allowed to this – we know you’re not feeling well and are willing to make allowances, obviously – but try to be brave and courteous and a good listener.)
Well, yesterday, I was not a good patient.
Last September, there was a bit of debacle with the big toe on my right foot, where I developed a nasty granuloma and then had a really gross ingrown toenail and multiple office procedures were performed to fix it. At the time, I let my primary care physician take care of it, rather than seeking out a podiatrist. So when the same darn nail started to hurt again a few weeks ago, I decided to go with an expert and made an appointment with Triangle Foot and Ankle Specialists to have it taken care of.
So I go in yesterday, sweating bullets because I hate having people mess with my feet, particularly when “mess with” means “poke with needles and scalpels,” and hoping against hope that he’ll tell me it’ll all sort itself out on its own. Alas, there is no good news forthcoming and I’m informed that the PCP didn’t thoroughly destroy the nail matrix, so now I have to have the ingrown nail removed again. He also told me that this frequently happens when PCPs remove ingrown toenails and that’s it’s usually better to have a podiatrist do it in the first place.
In my defense, I told him up front that having people work on my feet terrifies me. And he very kindly said he understood and that he would be as quick and gentle as possible. And then he got out his tray of sharp and shiny instruments.
At which point, I was stricken by an attack of nervous bladder and had to tell him to wait so I could go tinkle.
When I came back, he told me that the only thing he needed me to do was try to hold as still as possble while he was numbing my toe. I said I understood.
And then I promptly yanked my foot out of his hand as soon as he poked me.
I swear I couldn’t help it! It hurt! I apologized profusely and we eventually got all the anesthetic injected in (with some huffing and puffing, but luckily no cursing, on my part) and he left me to sit and let it take effect.
After 10 minutes or so, he comes back in and said that my toe should be nice and numb now and proceeds to poke it.
And I promptly say, “Um, ow! I can feel that!!!!” And yank my foot away again.
And he said, “Remember, you’ll feel some pressure. Was that pressure? Or pain?” And I said, “No! It was pain. It stung!”
So we waited another 10 minutes for my toe to numb up some more. And then he started taking care of the ingrown toenail. And at first I couldn’t feel it but then it started stinging while he was cutting so I started squirming and he started admonishing me to keep still and I was apologizing and squirming and he asked if I wanted him to put more numbing medicine in and I said no, I could suck it up and it was just generally unpleasant for a few minutes.
And the whole time, I’m thinking to myself, “Holy crap. I’m that patient. I know that if I were on the other side of this treatment table, I would be totally frustrated and mildly pissed at a patient like me!”
I was so embarrassed. But I swear, I couldn’t help it! And I got out to my car and I honestly wanted to go back in and tell him to do another toe and I would show him that I could be brave and follow directions.
I have to go back for a follow up in 2 weeks and I think I may bring them cookies or something to try to make it up to them.
Though I still stand by what I said after my first ingrown toenail procedure – having an enormous baby without an epidural hurt less than having my toe injected with lidocaine. And anyone who can sit still for them to do that is a hero in my book.
So I guess I’ll have to be a little more understanding when I get the patients who drive me nuts, since I’m one of them too.