Tuesday, September 4, 2007

People Are Strange

The young woman was lying on the hospital bed writhing in pain. An abdominal infection had gotten out of control and she would be needing an intensive course of IV antibiotics as a very last ditch effort to avoid surgery - or worse.

In the very short period of time I spent with her I counted at least fifteen facial piercings, including six lip rings like the ones pictured here. These rings encircled her mouth, the top ones touching the heavy hoop hanging from her septum. Each eyebrow was pierced numerous times, and all the studs in her nose blended nicely with her tattoos. Any body part not covered by a hospital gown or a blanket, since she was shivering uncontrollably, was covered by tattoos.

Her nurse rushed in with the equipment necessary to start the IV, along with fluids and antibiotics to hang. The patient sat straight up in bed and asked what all this was for. The nurse told her. Guess the patient's response -

A) "Do what ever you have to do. Just make me feel better."

B) "Oh my god, am I really that sick?"

C) "Well, this is going to be a piece of cake."

D) "No, I won't have an IV. I'm afraid of needles."

If you guessed D (and I'm sure most of you did) you would be right. And the patient did refuse the IV (and subsequently any treatment) based on her fear of needles. If the surgeon hadn't gotten two centimeters from her face and told her she would without question die without treatment, she would've crawled out of the ER rather than have an IV started. By this point the antibiotics were just a stopgap until she could be hustled into surgery anyway. Faced with the "die" word, she gave in and had the IV placed. She did not go quietly.

So let me get this straight. To be cool and trendy and one with your friends you'll take any number of needles from any number of questionable places with no problem. You'll bask in the knowledge that there is a certain shock factor involved in having more holes in your face than a colander. But if someone is trying really hard to help you and comes at you with something to save your life you'll say no based on the pain factor?

Am I old or is this just flat out insanity?

28 comments:

Kaycie said...

I used to work with a guy that was a former Hell's Angel. No piercings but he used to give himself tatoos.

He was injured on the job once and needed a tetanus shot. He refused and told me he was deathly afraid of needles. It took me an hour of cajoling, wheedling, pleading and threatening before I finally got him to take the shot.

I'll never understand how he could prick his own skin repeatedly with a needle and still tell me he is afraid of needles. People are nuts.

la bellina mammina said...

RC - I'm feeling queasy just looking at that photo..... can't stand pain nor blood!

my two cents said...

Not sure which is worse this, or the toothbrush...We may be old, you and I, but this is still insanity. I wish I had a camera at the beach this week. I saw things, well I guess you would believe, but they would have been fun for a laugh anyway! I'm not big on needles, but then again, I have just one piercing in each ear, and nary a tattoo, and I would allow an IV to be started, especially if it was to save my life. Eeeks. Even though this stroy is gross, I was glad when I realized you weren't going to write that one of you children had pierced their lips!!

ciara said...

WELL r.c.-you know me, i've had the piercings and i think it's o.k. in moderation. i'm not a big fan of piercings and tatts all over one's body. what is cracking me up right now is that she didn't want the i.v. cuz she was afraid of needles. lol did anyone ask her how ridiculous she was to even SAY that?

i'm grateful that i didn't go further into my piercing adventures than the tongue and nose, but i still want more tatts. just two more....or maybe three lol

Dumdad said...

It's utter madness!

Sweet Irene said...

Poor misguided girl, is all I can think and feel sorry for her for being so confused about things. It's a shame that she feels that she has to decorate her body with that many tattoos and piercings, but that is her decision. Maybe she doesn't know how deep an I.V. needle really goes, people see that needle and think the whole thing goes into their body. I am glad she is not my daughter, though, I would worry about her a lot.

Flowerpot said...

yes, my stomach lurched seeing that picture, too. I'd be a lousy nurse! Crazy, absolutely crazy. but then when have humans ever been logical?

The Rotten Correspondent said...

kaycie - We have a saying in the ER that the tougher the guy the harder they cry.This isn't meant to just pick on guys either - it also applies equally to women. If I had a dollar for every Hell's Angel or murderous gangbanger who cried for their mama when I came at them with a needle, I'd be in Fiji.Unbelievable.

bella - I'm fine with blood, but people in pain can really bother me.

my two cents - my children will NOT be getting anything like that until they're adults and even then I won't be thrilled. I could be wrong (especially with Surfer Dude) but I think the pain factor alone will stop them.

ciara - I thought about you writing this because I didn't want you to think I was picking on you! I'm not, I'm really not. I am completely okay with people doing what they want to do as long as it doesn't hurt others. Seriously. I don't judge anyone, because then it could get turned around on me! But here it's just the thought that she would let her fear stop her when her life was at stake, but she'd do it for fun.

dumdad - amen, brother.

sweet irene - If she was my kid I'd have had a screaming hissy fit right there in the room. She was alone, poor thing. Maybe you're right - I know those IVs can look intimidating. Of course I have NO idea how big a tattoo needle is, but some of her facial piercings were way bigger than the IV.

flowerpot - believe me, my stomach lurched when I saw her. And the picture makes my face hurt. But you wouldn't even need to be a nurse to see this. Don't you see it just walking down the street? I know we do here. One of the dads at our school has a pierced septum and both nipples pierced. And he has toddlers. OUCH!

Mya said...

I had my ears pierced - that was enough. I considered having my navel done - but common sense prevailed. And tattoos? That's just way too much committment for me!

Mya x

The Rotten Correspondent said...

mya - I know what you mean. It's the gemini in me. My mind changes too much to commit to anything that permanent. I'm not the tattoo type anyway. I think I'd just look pathetic.

laurie said...

i guess when someone is writhing in pain on the brink of death it's not the time to point out the inconsistencies in their life, but i'd sure like to know how she got those piercings if she's afraid of needles. maybe when she's in the recovery room you could bring her some flowers and ask her....

my mother wouldn't let us get our ears pierced until we were 18. she said that "only gypsies and foreigners" let children have their ears pierced.

little did she know that it was always my wildest dream to look like either a gypsy, or a foreigner.
instead, sadly, i have lived my life looking like a white middle class american.

with pierced ears.

Jen said...

My dad didn't want me to have my ears pierced when I was a kid because he thought it looked trashy. I did when he was out of town. I still almost fainted from the needle.

I had my navel done back when I was young and skinny and pretty, and I almost threw up because of it. Needless to say, there is no ring there now.

I passed out and fell off a hospital bed after being given a tetanus shot.

Somehow, I don't think a tatoo is in my future.

code: fvwtu Five with two? Is that a coffee order?

Crystal Jigsaw said...

That picture made me cringe for a start and I would definitely say it's insanity.

I have seen these piercings and do be honest, I Think, they look ridiculous and totally Uncool. But hey, who am I to judge....

Crystal xx

ciara said...

r.c.-not once did i think it was directed at me. i found the story quite funny. i think it's kind of ridiculous that she tried to refuse it to save her life, but wouldn't give a thought to piercing whatever spot she had left on her body. compared to piercings, iv needles don't even go in near as deep.

my mom also wouldn't let me get my ears pierced until i was 9 for whatever reason. i had both of my girls' ears pierced at 3 mos.

like a said, too much of anything is not good. if u have one or two piercings or tatts i think it's ok, but when someone wants to cover their entire body in them well it's just not attractive to me.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Does being sensible mean we are old? I don't get the piercing/tatoo look. In my day (now I do sound old), tatoos were for bikers and drunken sailors. What do they think their young flesh will look like as they get older. The idea of a tatoo on an 80-year-old is even more revolting than your toothbrush story. And the idea of septicimia caused by piercings is equally disgusting. I won't have any control over my daughter when she's an adult, but I do hope to turn her off to the idea long before then.

Pixel Pi said...

We are only beginning to be old and yes,it's insanity to be afraid of an IV after having that many piercings. Maybe she thought the pain of the IV would be the same as the pain of the piercings. Good thing her life got saved anyway....

Stepping Over the Junk said...

All I have to say is that raising two young girls, in this day, makes me very very very afraid...

The Rotten Correspondent said...

laurie - have you tried big gold hoops? It works for the gypsies.

How's the day at work going? I've been sending you good thoughts all day!

jen- I don't mind being on the blunt end of a needle, but I'm not crazy about the business end myself. No tattoos for me.

crystal jigsaw - I totally agree. It just looks ridiculous to be covered in ink head to toe.

ciara - good, I didn't want you to think I was picking on you. You know I wouldn't do that!

wake up - the older ones don't look so hot once the tattoos and piercings start to sag and stretch. And I really did wonder what started this woman's infection in the first place, but she wasn't my patient.

pixel pi - to be perfectly honest I don't know the end of this story. All I know is that she got to the OR. I can only hope it went well.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

stepping over the junk - welcome! thanks for stopping by. This sort of thing makes me crazy with my kids. They are so tired of listening to me!

Akelamalu said...

Totally Batty!!!

Jo Beaufoix said...

RC it is flat out insanity.
And a bit gross too.

I always think with the mouth ones that you must be ripe for infection unless you take each one out and scrub then thoroughly each night.

The hippy shop I worked in at 19 sold ear, nose and belly button rings.
People would visit the tattoo and piercings shop up the road then come to us.

The thing that made me most queasy was when a man came in who had the skin between his fingers pierced.

That's between every single finger.
It's till makes me cringe when I think how uncomfortable and annoying it must have felt.

merry weather said...

Thanks for visiting my blog - yours is a great read.

I'm fine with needles so long as I never look at them. I still remember the gigantic equipment dentists used to produce! Eyes tight shut is the best option. Of the young woman, it's hard to imagine someone could be so stubborn in crisis, amazing really.

Also, I love the toothbrush post before this - bless him, what a way for you to have to start the day, eek !.... :)

willowtree said...

Well you guys sure handled that badly! All you had to do was tell her you would dip the IV needle in ink first and she would have been fine with it.

laurie said...

RC: i did wear big hoops for a while. they went SO well with my big round glasses and my big round curly hair.

work was not as bad as i thought it would be. the bitch is that i have to get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

but thanks for your thought waves. i think they helped.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

akelamalu - totally agreed.

jo - oh. my. god. that makes my fingers hurt just thinking about it.

merry weather - welcome! thanks for stopping by. yeah, he'll be living the toothbrush caper down for a while.

willowtree - I'l have to remember that next time.

laurie - well then, I'll have to send more tomorrow!

Em said...

Um. Ok. I have three tattoos and four holes in each ear, but IVs do make me nervous. Having said that, I succumbed when I had my knee op, despite the anaesthetist not being able to find the vein to start with. The pain in my knee was so much worse than the pain in my hand!

Definitely agree about bikers - many of my friends are bikers and very few are as 'hard' as they look. And the ones that are as 'hard' as they look are often largely held together with metal pins...

Diana said...

You know, she hath something of the flavor of the borderline personality disorder about her.

Dee said...

Weird that is. If I was in so much pain I'd just want to get better, whatever it is they have to do.

I don't consider myself old, but I've never been a fan of that look. Really. No. I mean on some people, a couple of tattoos looks nice, but covered in them with metal sticking out of you all over the place, it's just not something I find attractive.