Those of you that know me well know that I loathe Wednesdays. It’s ‘hump day’, getting us half-way through the week. It is usually a mild day at work and on Wednesdays my husband usually makes a really nice vegetable soup for dinner.
It’s also the day he stabs me in the stomach each week.
But with a needle.
Part of my massive drug regimen is a weekly injection of Methotrexate, a mild chemotherapy drug that comes in a pre-loaded needle of bright yellow poison and that was disturbingly easy to sneak into China that one time. Despite his own reservations and heebie-jeebies Paul dutifully prepares this needle each week at his computer desk, flicking it for air bubbles like a pro and swearing under his breath when a drop of it shoots out of the needle and lands on his hand as though it were sulfuric acid. That he’s about to inject me with.
He then beckons me over and I hold my breath standing in front of him with my belly button exposed and my eyes fixed on the giant spider web in the window while he says ‘sharp scratch’ and lovingly jabs it in. I usually let loose a few tears and whimpers, he wipes down the stab-site and it is over.
But not this Wednesday. Holy hell.
So he begins preparing my shot this morning, collecting the prescription bag of needle boxes from the fridge (right next to the cheese), opens up a box and stops.
“Uh, hun? You’d better come see this.”
Well that can’t be good, right? These were not my usual needles where you screw a stabby bit onto a glass plunger bit and gently push it in, releasing the bright yellow poisonous mixture slowly and gently.
These were epi-pens.
Spring loaded, God-only knows how long the needle is or how violent this was going to be freaking epi-pens. Just without the fun of an adrenaline rush immediately afterward.
Panic burst forth as I told him that I couldn’t do this. There was no way I could do this. He told me that it would be fine, they wouldn’t have given them to me if they didn’t think I could handle them. I assured him I couldn’t do it, and had visions of him chasing me around the house wielding the epi-pen like Conan The Barbarian until he could jab it into my leg like he was tranquilizing a rhino.
“I can’t do this.”
“What do you mean you can’t do this? I’m the one that has to stab you!”
Cue long and heated debate about whether or not it was worse to be the stabber or the stabbee in this situation. He also declined my suggestion of “stab one into an orange first to see if the orange explodes”. He thought the NHS would be upset with me for having wasted chemo on fruit.
“Alright, come here.” said Paul, “give me your thigh.”
“Well yeah”. He pointed to the 3ft long fold out instructions. “It says here to just put it on your thigh and push the button.”
WHAT?!?!? What do you mean JUST PUSH THE BUTTON!?!?
Fine. It had to be done. I had to get to work and I needed this shot. There was no way around this. Fine. Just do it, fine.
We went upstairs and I sat on the bed in my underwear, exposing my bright white thighs to Paul and his violent epi pen. I remembered my high-school boyfriend that had a peanut allergy and his mom teaching me to use his epi-pen should he need it. That grapefruit was destroyed. She told me that you had to jab it really hard in the meaty part of his thigh because you only get one go and if it is too gentle the needle won’t go deep enough. You’ve got to really get some momentum behind it.
Oh my God. This was going to be horrible.
“Are you ready?”
“No! Wait! I need to put some music on first. To distract me.”
“Are you ready?”
“NO! Wait! I need to put a pillow under my head.”
“Are you ready?”
“NO! WAIT! I need to hold on to Huar Huar while you do this.”
“No you don’t. We’re just going to get it done and get it over with.”
He grabbed my thigh – “sharp scratch!”, pinched a big chunk of the muscle together, stabbed down the epi-pen contraption and pushed the button on the top down with his thumb.
It made a ‘chlunk’ sound like the dropping of gears as I felt it shoot into my leg – Paul held it steady until it was finished – and it was quick. The bright yellow liquid fired down the needle and into my leg like it was being pulled in. It was finished and he pulled it, out – though I couldn’t look at it to see how long the needle was. He advised me not to.
As soon as it was out I let loose the scream I had been holding in.
It was over, and I immediately let out the pent up wail and sob as Paul darted to the bathroom, his bladder ready to burst, while I let loose crying into Huar Huar. Owwwwwww! It stung a little at the stab site and there was blood oozing out onto my leg.
And then the burning started – like I could feel the drug expanding through my thigh in all directions – across to my bum and down to my knee. I’d never felt this when we injected it near my belly-button. I was still sat there whimpering when Paul re-entered the room, bright and cheerful that this part of our day was finished.
“So,” he mused, “soup for dinner?”