Back pain – it’s a sore point for me

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“WE’VE got an extra sharp needle for you today, Mr Ord.”

I’m not sure where I stand on doctors with a sense of humour.

This week I went to hospital for a nerve-blocking injection in my spine and mentioned, in passing, my not unnatural fear of hypodermic needles.

The doctor clearly decided that a touch of dark humour would help calm my nerves. Hence the “extra sharp needle” gag. Ha ha.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have laughed.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It won’t hurt.” Pause. “It won’t hurt me at all.”

Ha, ha.

Fortunately my wife was with me. She’s good in a crisis. No matter how painful a procedure you will face, she’d have faced worse.

She has, after all, had a baby. In fact, she’s had two.

“Try having a baby,” is, I’m sure, a phrase repeated to men in households the length and breadth of the country whenever they complain about some pain or other.

Stubbed your toe? “Get over it. You want to try having a baby.” Toothache! “Painful? You want to try having a baby.” Torn to shreds by a pack of wild dogs ... “Listen to you. You want to try having a baby.”

Reminds me of that anecdote about the cricketer who dislocated his finger and went to hospital to have it treated. As the doctor tried to relocate the bone back into its joint, the cricketer kept yelping in pain.

The frustrated doctor pointed to a woman across the ward and said: “That woman had triplets yesterday and didn’t make as much noise as you’re making.”

“Okay,” said the cricketer. “But you try putting them back in. See what a fuss she makes then.”

It’s not an anecdote I’ve told my wife. Not worth the pain.

To be honest, I’m not really that bothered about needles.

I just think it pays to come across as a nervous Norman when faced with them. And when having one plunged within a whisker of my spinal cord, I decided the meek approach would curry more favour. If I was a doctor with a nervous patient, I’d take extra care to make their life more bearable.

If I was a doctor with an arrogant, know-it-all patient, I’d be less careful.

Imagine it. The patient marching into the surgery theatre, chest out, chewing gum, bellowing “C’mon doc, do your worst … I’ve got other things to be getting on with. You know where to stick it, don’t you? Can’t miss it. Left, lower lumbar, chop, chop.”

If I was the doctor faced with that kind of patient, I’d be skewering their back like a Christingle orange.

As you can possibly guess, I didn’t really have a calling for the caring services.

My timid approach appeared to work though. The injections went swimmingly.

As I was wheeled into theatre and he produced his lance-like hypodermic, I asked if I needed to keep my glasses on. He had time for one more joke.

“It’s up to you,” he said. “I’ll probably be keeping mine on.” Nice one, doc, I laughed, nervously.