First Epidural

“I have a history of passing out when I get stuck with a needle."

I always warn them that it will happen. I get one of three responses:

  • Thanks for letting me know
  • Don’t be such a wuss (usually not in those exact words)
  • I’m going to go get someone else to deal with you, because I can’t handle that (also not in those exact words)

This time it was the third type of response, but it was unusual coming from a middle-aged nurse whose efficient movements around the room seemed to demonstrate a good deal of experience. It’s usually the young, fresh out of school nurses that panic at the thought of a six-foot three, 220 pound man passing out on them.

Maybe it carried a different weight this time since the needle in question was going to be stuck into my spine getting as close as possible without actually poking into my spinal cord.


A different nurse came in a few minutes later. A little chat about passing out, some fond reminiscing about good times hitting the floor when nurses did not take it seriously, and a promise that she would take good care of me.

“Just be brave."

“I am always brave about it, but I still pass out."

She put an IV in the back of my hand without me feeling it. “That was good, you didn’t even flinch…uh oh…don’t look.” Then she clamped down on the I.V. with her thumb because it was squirting blood all over her and THAT hurt. “That vein was a little better than I thought it would be."

A quick chat with Dr. Damanna, get wheeled down the hall, then rolled onto my stomach. A dose of something for pain and a dose of something to make me feel real good. Since I was lying face down I could not see what was going on, but I knew they were using a fluoroscope to get a look at the spot on the spine that needed the juice.

“There it is…that’s kind of tight…there’s a good spot…you’re going to feel a little stick…now some pressure (and he tried to shove my neck through the table)…now the medicine is going in you might feel some sting and burning (yes)…OK all done."

And he’s outa there.

They help me roll off the table onto the gurney and wheel me back to the other room. Then the fun started. After couple of rounds of blood pressure fluctuations, some “Oh you look pale let’s tilt that bed upside down to get some blood to your brain” along with some I.V. fluids and I was ready to get out of there.

The last advice from the brave nurse was for us to get me some food (yay), but that we should probably get it to go because the needle-stick reaction combined with the feel-good drugs they gave me might cause me to keel over if I try to sit and eat somewhere.

Of course, we headed straight to El Azteca from there because that sounded like a great place to eat and maybe pass out.

My arm does not hurt. Not at all. I got an epidural shot in between C5 and C6. The next day the pain was gone. It’s been gone a week. Six months of steadily increasing pain through my upper arm and shoulder all gone. That’s nice. Of course, there is no guarantee that the pain will stay gone. I have to get at least one and possibly two more shots in the same spot to get the full affect. Even then there is no guarantee of long term goodness. But right now, it does not hurt.

I wonder if I’ll get a new nurse to scare next time.

Imported from an old blog. Some links might be dead. Let me know if you find dead links.