Needles, Needles Everywhere or Aspirate my Femur

If you’re not up to date on the leg drama, read here and here first.

They wouldn't let me bring my camera in to the room, so all you get is stock images of aspiration needles.

They wouldn’t let me bring my camera in to the room, so all you get is stock images of aspiration needles.

Dr. Busy insisted, despite having clean blood test results, that I have the break in my femur bone aspirated, fluid removed, and then tested for infection. This basically consists of a radiologist inserting a needle into my leg all the way to my bone, shooting lidocain all the live-long day, and then inserting this teeny, tiny little tube-needle and he pokes around in there while watching a live-action X-ray TV. Once he gets the little tube-needle right into the break, he sucks out fluid. It was actually not unlike a video game.

The thought of this entire process terrified me.

Bear and I sat in the waiting room on the radiologist’s office in the hospital while I had minor panic attacks.
“Salem?”
I stood up.
“Hey, I’m your nurse Shelly. I’m trying to understand your chart. Why are we aspirating a femur?”
I explained it to her because, obviously Dr. Busy was too busy to write out why I would need my bone aspirated as usually they aspirate a joint after surgery.
“Oh! Ok, I see. Let me explain this to my doctor and I’ll be right back with you.”
I sat down next to Bear. “It’s going to be fine,” he said.
“Ok.”
I stared at a shelf of free books, most of them looked like Tom Clancy novels but I never actually saw his name. A woman across the waiting room was sitting in the “extra wide” chair, though she didn’t really need it. She looked nervous, too.
“Salem?” She called me again and smiled because we know each other now.
“Can he come with me?” I asked.
“No,” she said with a face that also would have worked for, “Your hamster passed away this morning while you were at school.”
“Oh no, really?” I asked, like maybe she’d change her mind.
More sad hamster face.
“Ok, but if you hear me screaming, you break down the door, OK?” I told Bear.
“You know I will,” he said with his angry Bear face.

I walked back with Shelly and she asked me about nine different ways what we were doing, I assume to ensure they didn’t start aspirating my ear lobe by accident because someone pulled up the wrong chart. She then gave me a gown and some sticky socks, which I love, and set me up on the table.
“I really don’t want to do this,” I said.
“It’ll be fine, baby. I promise. If you want anyone doing this, it’s Dr. Bedside.” (Not his real name.)
“Really? He’s nice?” I asked like a 5 year old.
“He’s the best,” she smiled as she pulled a giant, square telescope over my leg. She flipped on a TV screen and there was a live X-ray of my leg. It was crazy cool. She went from my hip to my knee and I could see all the hardware in there, and the break. “That break isn’t very big, it’ll be tough to get a needle in there,” she said.
“How magnified is that picture?” I asked.
“It’s as far as it will go,” she said.
Wow. My bones grew a lot closer together than they were even a month ago. Just then, Dr. Bedside walked in. He was tall, fairly thin, looked to be about 45. He had nice blue eyes and a soft but meaningful smile. He walked straight to my head.
“Hey! How are we, Erin? I’m Dr. Bedside.”
“Hi, I’m scared. I don’t want you to do this. It’s going to hurt.”
“Yeah. It’s going to hurt, I won’t lie. But looking at the screen, I can pretty much tell you don’t have an infection so…”
“So, we can just write that down and then not do the aspiration?”
“I wish that were true, but I promise. I will go quickly. I’m going to use the smallest needle possible and I will numb you as I go down, so you really won’t be in pain for more than a few minutes. After that it will be uncomfortable pressure as I get the tube down by the break. Don’t worry. You can cry or curse or scream or whatever you need to do.”
“Um, Dr. Busy?” Shelly interrupted. “Please don’t make her scream. Her boyfriend is in the waiting room and she told him to break down the door if she screams. And I saw him. He’s big. And he looks like he could be mean.”
We all chuckled for a few seconds before I said, “No seriously. He’ll kill you.”

After a little prep work and some writing on my leg, which I assume was just for fun, he told me to take a deep breath.

Let’s go ahead and talk about pain. Yeah, it’s painful when someone sticks a needle into your skin. Into your muscle. But when a needle hits your bone…you can feel it in the back of your teeth. I mean all the way down to your pinky toe, it’s electric. Thankfully, it only hurt like I was being murdered with electricity for about 45 seconds. The rest of the procedure was pressure, like my thigh muscle was trying to push the tube out of my body without me telling it to. It reminded me very briefly and on a WAY smaller scale of that moment when if I didn’t push Abe’s entire body out of my body I was going to EXPLODE. I just wanted that thing out of my thigh. I breathed slowly and deeply, in and out, like yoga.
“Go ahead,” Dr. Bedside said. “Curse.”
“This fucking hurts,” I whispered. Shelly giggled like it was the first time she’d heard a girl say that word.
“You can tell your boyfriend some asshole doctor made you curse,” Dr. Bedside quipped through a concentrated voice.
“I will. He’s going to beat you up,” I whispered.
“Somehow, I believe that,” he said.

A few more deep breaths and, “All done, Erin,” Dr. Bedside said as he pulled the tube out.
“Did you get anything?” I asked.
“There wasn’t really any fluid there. I grabbed what I could. I think you’re fine,” he smiled and took my hand. “I also think removing that screw is just what you need for these bones to heal together.”
“Really?! I’m so glad to hear you’re confident in that! I didn’t want to have the whole rod replaced.”
“Nah. That wouldn’t have been necessary. I bet this will do the trick.”

Now, Dr. Bedside isn’t an ortho, but isn’t it nice to hear someone else say I don’t need my rod replaced right now?!

I limped out because I couldn’t really feel my thigh and Bear was standing right outside.
“You ok?” he asked while I buried my face in his chest.
“Yes. I don’t want to do that again.”
“I don’t want to do any of this again, so I’d say we’re on the same page.”

Agreed, Bear. Agreed.

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