Useless Epidural Advice: Think of the Letter C

4 years ago

All of a sudden I feel this sharp pain in my lower left back. The pain makes me tense, so when she puts the epidural in, she says, "Arch your back."

The lovely nurse says, "Think of the letter C."

I'm thinking of the letter C. Okay.

The anesthesiologist nurse says, "I didn't get it. We will have to try again."

I glance at my sister through my tears, and she just stares at me. I ask her, "Will you get me a Kleenex?" She walks to the right, and then realizes it's sterilized and turns around and the anesthesiologist snaps, "It's sterilized, you can't go through here."

I think, "Really? Is that why she just turned around the other way? Thanks." But don't say anything, because I'm unfortunately concentrating on my pain.

I wipe my face and nose just to go through the exact same thing again. She says once more, "I didn't get it."

My face is soaked from my crying, and now my legs are shaking uncontrollably. When she says we have to try it again, I think, You've got to be kidding me. I'm in so much pain from the first two tries.

The lovely nurse says, "You're doing great." As she pulls my shoulders forward, she says, "Now think of the letter C."

Her condescending voice is really grinding on my last nerve. She sounds so patronizing it makes the last bit of contents in my stomach want to come up. As I get stuck a third time with the numbing shot, I think, "Okay, what starts with the letter C. Crap, cramps, contractions, crap, f***, f***, f***."

I hear once again, "I can't get it. Hold still."

"I'm trying."

She attempts to stick me with the epidural for the third time, I think, "Wait, f*** doesn't start with C. Crap...crap... crap....CRAP....CCCCRRRAAPPP...CCCCRRRRAAAAAAAPPPP, CCRRRRAAAAAAAAPPPPP."

It gets louder in my head the more it hurts.

The pain stops... until the anesthesiologist says once again, "I didn't get it."

My sister says, "Think of a cat. Arch your back like a cat."


Why the heck did that stupid, lovely nurse not say that the first time? That makes a heck of a lot more sense to me.

Speaking of the devil, she says, "Now roll your shoulders in and put your head down."

At this point, I want to either slap her or say, "Shut the F*** UP!" or both.

I'm seriously contemplating the latter, when I realize that's probably not the nicest thing to say to someone... but I still want to say it anyway.

I say, "I'm trying."

"Well, she can't get it."

"Well, I don't know what to tell you. I'm in A LOT of pain. It hurts badly."

"If you do it right, we won't have to do it again."

Does she think I'm intentionally not doing it "right," whatever that means? I can barely see through all my tears. I'm sitting cross-legged, holding my eyes, trying to control their shaking, but it doesn't seem to be helping.

As I get numbed a fourth time, I think, "If they don't get it this time, I don't think I can do it again. This is more painful than the contractions. Cat, cat... think cat. Gosh I hate cats. I loathe cats... but arch (as I picture a cat arching his back). Now hold it. Hold it... hold it, just a little longer. CRAP that hurts. Just a little longer. HOOOOOOOOLLLLLLDDDDDDD it. HOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD IT! Please be almost done. Please be almost done. OHHH MYYYY GOOOOOOOOSSSSHHHHH. Please, please, please be done!"

"Okay I got it."


Credit: roebot.

The lovely nurse says I will feel the effects of the epidural quickly. I lie down, and my sister sits in the chair next to me. I say, "Can I get a Kleenex please?"

She hands me a Kleenex, and we are alone.

Now I'm exhausted. I have a headache from crying so much, but the good news is I don't feel any contractions. My left leg literally feels like a brick. I can't lift it even an inch. My right leg, although I can't feel anything, I can move around freely like it's a feather. It's the craziest thing... to have complete different mobility in each of your legs.

After I've taken a few minutes to calm down and regain my composure, I say to my sister, "That was worse than the contractions, and that nurse was driving me insane. Her voice was so condescending. I don't know if the tone was supposed to be soothing, but it made me want to punch her... and I'm not a violent person."

She laughs and replies, "I thought the exact same thing. It was driving me crazy."

"All I wanted was for you to be where she was. Why weren't you? Better yet, why didn't I just say that I wanted that and make you take her place? That was stupid of me. Actually why didn't she suggest it? She knows this is my first time. Wouldn't she think I would rather have you than her? That's weird that she didn't recommend that."

"Yeah, I know. My nurse did. She had me hug Shawn, so my back would arch better."

"Well that makes more sense or even lie down like Anne (my sister-in-law). I should've hugged you. What the crap was that nonsense about 'Think of the letter C?'"

"She wanted you to think of the letter C to put your back in the shape of the letter C."

"What? I thought she wanted me to think of words that start with the letter C. No wonder why it didn't make sense to me. She never said, 'Put your back in the shape of a C.' She just said, 'Think of the letter C.' I didn't know what the heck that meant."

My sister just laughed... and laughed... and laughed.

"What's so funny?"

"I seriously can't believe you thought that."

"How was I supposed to know?! Clueless... I tell ya."

"Yes, that fits you perfectly."

"But I seriously wonder how it's possible for me to be that clueless."

"I wonder the same thing..."

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