HE’S NO DR. SMITH

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - DEN­NIS WY­ATT Editor This col­umn is the opin­ion of ex­ec­u­tive editor, Den­nis Wy­att, and does not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent the opin­ion of The Bul­letin or Mor­ris News­pa­per Corp. of CA. He can be con­tacted at dwy­att@man­te­cab­ul­letin.com or 209.249.3519.

The ‘Lost in Space’ char­ac­ter dwelled ‘on the pain of it all’ but not Wy­att

The phle­botomist started to take the blood pres­sure cuff off my right bi­cep on Satur­day. As she did, a sharp pain shot through my body caus­ing me to in­vol­un­tar­ily jump slightly off the donor chair.

Both of us were star­tled.

For per­haps 30 sec­onds nei­ther one of us could fig­ure what had hap­pened. And then it was painfully clear. I had been sit­ting there for more than two hours be­ing pinched by the cuff.

It was ironic in more ways than one.

When she first put it on, it was a bit too tight and I men­tioned it. Af­ter she ad­justed it there was a dull pain but I dis­missed it as be­ing from the tem­po­rary over tight­ness of the cup.

Then there was the real kicker. When I do­nate platelets ev­ery two weeks I pre­fer they use both arms — one to re­move the blood and one to re­turn it mi­nus the white cells. This re­quires a nee­dle stuck in both el­bows as well as both arms to be strapped for well over two hours.

And that’s be­fore toss­ing in my Achilles heel: It’s a royal pain for me to sit in one po­si­tion for 15 min­utes let alone two hours plus.

Hav­ing a nee­dle poked into me stings a bit. But af­ter hav­ing done the pro­ce­dure well over 250 times it is more an­noy­ing to have a fly land on my arm. There is a lit­tle dis­com­fort dur­ing the process although it pales to the dis­com­fort of those in need of the platelets.

That said, I’m prob­a­bly the first platelets donor to get a bruise — it lasted maybe for an hour — from a blood pres­sure cup.

Yes, there was a slight pain in my arm but I chose to ig­nore it and block it out for the most part. I learned long time ago when I was in my 20s and de­vel­oped bunions from hell — they ac­tu­ally have made med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als wince in pain when they first look at them — paired with the ac­com­pa­ny­ing ham­mer­toes that you don’t al­low your­self to fo­cus on the pain.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel pain or that it doesn’t stop me in my tracks. It’s just that I’ve been able so far in life not to let my mind be drawn to pain like a moth to a porch light.

My ma­jor pain ex­pe­ri­ences have for­tu­nately been low-key af­fairs — past bouts with knee gout, a cracked shoul­der, slam­ming my knee into the pave­ment in a 45 mph crash while bi­cy­cling down­hill, land­ing on my head twice that was pro­tected by a hel­met while bi­cy­cling, and two her­nia op­er­a­tions among oth­ers.

The her­nia op­er­a­tions weren’t ex­actly my proud­est mo­ments in deal­ing with pain. Hope­fully Dr. Jerry Weiner isn’t read­ing this be­cause I did not do what he told me to do af­ter each op­er­a­tion — not to do any­thing of a sub­stan­tial phys­i­cal na­ture for 30 days and to take Vi­codin.

The first time I took Vi­codin for two days I was go­ing so nuts not do­ing any­thing that I cut the lawn three days af­ter the op­er­a­tion. Cyn­thia when she got home that day was be­side her­self that I had cut the lawn and that wasn’t in a happy way. I stopped tak­ing Vi­codin four days af­ter the op­er­a­tion thor­oughly con­vinced it was do­ing too good of a job mask­ing the pain and be­cause of that my judg­ment would be clouded as to whether I was en­gag­ing in an ac­tiv­ity that would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to my re­cov­ery.

Since Dr. Weiner didn’t want to do both her­nias at once, he re­paired the worst of the two and told me to mon­i­tor the other one.

I did what he told me to do but I was able to func­tion when it got painful. Then came the morn­ing I did my usual jog to the 6 a.m. group ex­er­cise class at In Shape. It was there dur­ing a floor ex­er­cise that I dou­bled over in pain and in­sisted I was OK. There hap­pened to be a doc­tor in the house — Mike Davis — who asked if I was al­right. I said yes as I gin­gerly got up and de­cided to exit the class and jog back home. I got a block when the pain forced me to start walk­ing. When I got home, Cyn­thia took one look at me and wanted to know if I wanted her to call for an am­bu­lance. I em­phat­i­cally said “no” and pro­ceeded to sit down in a chair. Ten min­utes later af­ter not mov­ing and the pain get­ting worse by the minute, I asked her to take me to Doc­tors Hospi­tal.

In less than 90 min­utes I was in surgery. Ap­par­ently it was in dan­ger of rup­tur­ing which is not ex­actly con­ducive to stay­ing alive.

The sec­ond time around I ar­gued against be­ing given any painkiller in the re­cov­ery room when I came to. I was told it was pro­ce­dure and they had no choice. They also gave me a bot­tle of Vi­codin that I did not want. It hurt like hell but I didn’t open the bot­tle. On the morn­ing of the fourth day af­ter the surgery when Cyn­thia ca­su­ally men­tioned she still wanted a ma­ture cherry tree in the back­yard taken out — I wanted it left in place — she came home stunned to find I had cut the cherry tree down. I didn’t get around to cut­ting up the fallen cherry tree for an­other week be­cause even an id­iot like me knew that would be over do­ing it.

The bot­tom line, pain is rel­a­tive. And in my case it’s a first cousin.

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