Yesterday I got my first epidural shot. I’d known that I’d be getting it since last week. The doctor was looking at my MRI of my lumbar spine, said “I want you to see Dr. Allen,” then I promptly did and it was then that I discovered what Dr. Allen would be doing. He said it was a procedure where I’d get a small needle inserted into my back that would numb the area (just a SMALL needle… uh-huh), and then a larger needle (I believe LARGER was emphasized) would be inserted. A live X-ray type device would be used to help pinpoint the exact area that the giant needle would be visiting.
He said “You should have someone accompany you home… some people walk out of here just fine and others don’t.”
“Others don’t?” I asked. “Ha! Maybe I’ll have to be taken out in a wheel chair! Or a stretcher!” I said in jest. Oh, I do think I am funny.
Dr. Allen didn’t comment.
As the days passed I got more and more nervous about the procedure. All I knew is that a GIANT needle was going to be inserted into my delicate little, tiny, did I mention delicate (?) spinal column. If you are crazy like me, you’ll Google all the bad things that can happen––spinal fluid leakage, headaches, fevers, infection… DEATH! Okay, death isn’t a side effect but my brain told me it was. YOU WILL DIE from this, my brain told me (my brain doesn’t mess around and it DOESN’T have a sense of humor).
Then two days ago a coworker told me how horrible it would be. She said “Oh! My sister got one when she was pregnant. She had to have a catheter! It was AWFUL! You'll have a catheter!” That sent me over the edge. I wasn’t having a baby and knew it couldn’t possibly be the same, but OH THE AGONY.
Needless to say when all my vitals were hooked up yesterday in the scary surgical-type room, my blood pressure was through the roof.
The doctor asked what the highest my blood pressure has ever been and I said “160/110.”
He said “Oh! It’s exactly that!”
“Ha ha, chuckle, chuckle,” my brain said. “They think my high blood pressure is nothing and these are the last few minutes of my short life! Soon I will be dead! Dead! Dead! Goodbye cruel world, goodbye!” Okay, my brain wasn’t being that dramatic but you get the point.
“Do you mind needles?” he asked.
“YES,” I said. “I DO mind. I DO NOT like them,” I answered.
“Well, I guess you’d better look away then,” he said jovially.
What, you may wonder, is the point of all this chatter? Am I trying to turn this children’s chat blog into my own personal story- time? Maybe. Perhaps we could call it Fireside Chat with Meghan II. But seriously, I’m here to tell you that the anticipation of starting the artwork for a children’s book is EXACTLY THE SAME as the anticipation of getting a medical procedure. Well, for me anyway. A paintbrush may as well be that epidural needle. When were those other times that my blood pressure has been 160/110? When making a kids' book....
My editors always assume, I think, that it is fun to paint. “It looks like SO much fun!’ they always say.” But it’s not! It’s not fun AT ALL! Okay, once I get going it’s fine… but it’s those first few days when I tentatively hover near the table…when I push that white paper around…when I go to the art supply store and buy just a FEW new tubes of paint because A FEW tubes are better than TOO MANY…when I tell my friends “goodbye” because I won’t be seeing them for a while. I usually have a nice dinner right before getting going and tell my friends “Guys, this is my last meal with you. You won’t be seeing me for a long while.” We cry, we hug, and then I go on my way... and slump back to the dark, lonely studio. Okay, we don’t cry or hug but maybe we should.
Then, at the stroke of midnight, I begin. I usually paint in the late and early morning hours because there’s not that daytime distraction--happy people living their lives and that sort of thing. Sometimes I “take a break” around 3 am or so and then wake to find myself at 5am on the couch with the TV playing The Jeffersons WAY TOO LOUD. At other times I make it all the way to 5 or 6 am, still painting, still going strong. It’s at those times that my “second wind” kicks in and I get all hyped up. Sometimes I take a break to do sit ups and lift some weights. But then I’m back at it, painting away.
But the reason I get so anxious about the painting process is THE STRESS that accompanies it. When there’s only a week left and I know I’m not going to finish, when the editor starts the emails politely asking “How’s it coming along?” I feel the pain. Then I go to my part-time job, come home exhausted, put my new audio book on and get to painting. I’ll paint and paint and paint but sometimes the process can’t be sped up no matter how hard I try. When the artwork is due the next day and I have 4 pieces to go and I know I might not make it…and I'm so tired my brain starts playing that Rocky theme song over and over again––da da daaa, da da daaa (you know the one) ... when I know I won’t sleep and I won’t eat and the heart palpitations kick in and I feel light headed and TIRED and SICK…when that happens, I’d rather get the epidural shot. I’ll take that long needle in the back any day! This is whey the anticipation of the giant needle is exactly the same as the start of a book. Sad, but true.
Dear Readers: I hope you don’t think the above tale is depressing. I don’t mean it to be. I mean for it to be a light, beach read. Print it out, take it with you, drink some lemonaid, sit in the sun and enjoy. But please, if you have anything to add…if you don’t understand what I'm talking about or IF YOU DO…let me know. Please share your "day before the shot" tales. I'm sure I'll feel better once you do.