The Tale of the Emla Fairy

The Tale of the Emla Fairy

I have been terrified of needles for as long as I can remember. And what I mean by terrified, is that just the thought of a needle could spark hours of bad moods, make me spiral by the simple mention of it in an e-mail and most probably make me cry before it even happens. Admitting that it still happens to this day is probably not my proudest claim. But at this point, the whole act of going into hospital, being put either in a bed or chair and feeling the tight strap around your upper arm simply feels like trauma. However exaggerated this sounds, it’s not trivial, anyone that goes through something painful and scary over and over again can experience some form of PTSD. 

So, jumping off that, I was very grateful for my fairy friend growing up. Emla Cream is a staple of my times in hospital and from the age of one to… well, now… I have been using it as my little helper through something that was unavoidable, but violent to me nonetheless. And there is no shame in having a little help.

if there’s something that makes something else less painful, you use it right?

Recently, I had a little realisation, that made me giggle because it brought me back to a time where I didn’t think as deeply as I do now, and life was frankly simpler.

On Monday, I had to go to hospital and in the middle of an appointment my doctor realised that I was missing a few tests, so on the spot she suggested I get blood drawn. Cue, instant sweating. Regardless of the overwhelming feeling of dread, I wanted those tests done and for once I acknowledged they were important. Or, I was finally smart enough to know that if I didn’t do it then it would just mean I would have to do it another time, and living through the anticipation of getting it done, is half the trauma. So, miraculously, I said yes and got it done then and there.

Because the Swiss are beautifully sensitive, they offered to use Emla numbing cream, despite the fact that I was in an adult hospital. They were ready to wait the 40 minutes so that the cream could have an effect. The nurses were perfect. But I decided that I didn’t want to wait and just gathered the strength to do it without Emla for the first time in twenty-three years.

I still really don’t know why I made these chains of decisions if I’m being totally honest…

Well, spoiler; I did it and it went fine. 

In the past nurses have used the snarky comment that I have visible tattoos as a way to question why I would be scared of a little needle for bloodwork. I am never going to admit it to them, and I will continue to snap back if a nurse belittles my fears like that, but yeah, my tattoos definitely hurt more. 

But that wasn’t my big realisation. 

You see just on the 9th of July, I got blood taken with the numbing cream. And I specifically remember telling my mother that, it didn’t hurt, but that I could feel everything. As in, the cream took away the pain of the needle, but not the sensation of it. However, if you had asked me if this cream had taken away total sensitivity as a kid, I would’ve said yes and been convinced of it. But I now think that, that was actually just the power of positivity in a child’s mind.

In simpler terms; the Emla fairy works only if you totally believe in her. 

she was my own little Tinkerbelle

I thought the Emla cream had stopped working in July, I thought we hadn’t waited enough time, or hadn’t put enough on. But that simply wasn’t the truth. The truth was that as a child I wanted to believe in everything. I believed in magic. 

Now that part of my brain was stained by my, albeit limited, knowledge of A-Level biology and medicine. I knew too much to pretend like I didn’t have a needle piercing through skin and veins. And that’s just the reality of growing up.

This enlightenment wasn’t sour or sad. For a minute, I was impressed by my strength as a child. And I’m happy I had a little imaginary fairy friend that was there through every hospital stay as a kid. I remember getting a diploma after my first big surgery when I was 10 years old, saying that I had done a marvellous job and that the Emla Fairy was proud of me. And I still have that diploma in my mother’s home, because it really meant something to me back then. I remember thinking that it was because of that little cream that I was okay, that I didn’t feel the pain, that I wasn’t alone. That was important to me as a kid and I continue to be so impressed by the paediatric nurses that looked after me for all those years.

And then, my next thought was, I’m proud of the woman that decided to deal with reality face on this week. Despite my fears I still basically just said, fuck it, let’s get it over with. And my anxiety ridden self that dragged her limp body through hospital corridors, would not have done that last year. 

In conclusion, I will miss my little Fairy friend. 

I definitely needed her for a long time, but now I may just be able to go in a little more independently… or at least sometimes. Regardless, I’ll always be happy to see my old friend.

merci pour tout, ma petite Fée 

Do you have any tales of when your childhood memories impressed your adult minds?

speak soon

Ballistic xx

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In 500 years, we have more than doubled (almost tripled) our life expectancy. The art that is medicine has allowed us to live past natural discrepancies. As a fact on its own, this is positive. In philosophical terms, we could debate whether it is a manipulation of nature and the cycles that feed our everchanging world. And when I think of where I am right now, stuck in my home because there is a virus that overwhelmed the world and pushed us down to our knees, I question what it is we have achieved with all these medical advancements. Ultimately, has it made us healthier?

The Health & Wellness industry has boomed; it is growing twice as fast as our global economic growth, and we are the reason for it. It seems like society has become hyper-focused on improving themselves, with anything from treatments and medication to yoga and acupuncture. We live in a time where everyone is taking some type of medicine, vitamin, or supplement. 

We definitely avoid many infections with vaccines and better hygiene. With the technology now developing intertwined with medicine we can detect diseases much earlier than before which automatically jump starts the odds of beating said disease. Essentially medicine has allowed us to curb and avoid certain illnesses, but there are very little examples of our individual bodies becoming stronger with time. 

On a completely different note…

The subsection of pharmaceutical drugs that brings the most money in, is diabetes. Which is interesting considering it is also kind of a man-made disease. I say this because genetics is not the only root problem, lifestyle and choice in food are actually much more responsible for causing Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type. In fact, some doctors have gone as far as saying there is a diabetes pandemic in our modern world. This is not shocking when you consider the problematic food industry that we blindly continue to consume.

Obesity and eating disorders are known to be storming society right now, and despite this common knowledge the numbers of diabetes continue to rise. So, is there any truth in saying that we may be using medicine to correct the unhealthy eating habits and the high-sugar foods that populate our plates? In other words; are we using medicine to continue being unhealthy without suffering the consequences of a failing body?

Now, that is only one example within the world of medicine, I am also not claiming that there aren’t plenty of services that are essential. What I am trying to highlight is the sort of hyperinflation of medicine that has led us to go into the extremes of treatments. We have become so hypnotised by how many things we can change and fix with medicine that the question of health isn’t part of the argument anymore. Instead, perfection has become a general obsession.

Whether it be drugs, procedures, or circuits, I think it would be false to claim that medicine is still pure at heart and only cares about creating healthier bodies. Otherwise why aren’t there consequences to antivaxxers propaganda and why is one of the most fruitful medical industry plastic surgery? These are two extreme examples and I am only using them to show one situation where scientific facts have disproven a belief, yet health measures aren’t imposed even on helpless babies, and the other is a multi-billion-dollar business that is completely legitimate but has next to no health benefits. 

An article in Forbes explained how hospitals and medical personnel were affected and even sometimes overwhelmed, by this surge in need for medical attention. What I found interesting was that it pointed out that almost half of physicians were experiencing at least one symptom of burnout nowadays. This reminded me of what a friend had told me about therapists having therapists of their own to manage what they were experiencing at work. The irony is that the people that have dedicated their adult lives to caring for the sick have actually been made ill by the pressure that that represents. So, I wondered, if our doctors are getting sick because of the industry, how can we assure and claim it is safe for patients?

I guess I am disillusioned by the healthcare system because too many souls walk out of hospitals scarred and scared. There is so much funding and attention being funnelled into the world of medicine that we are inevitably going to turn it into a capitalist, money-and-conversion-rate hungry monster if we don’t guarantee that the industry remains equal to all. Losing more of the humanity that started and sprouted the angelic work of nurses is not the way to make this world succeed. 

Consider the evolution of wearable technology in modern medicine; is this just a new way to micro-manage and prepare for the effects of our unhealthy behaviours? Why do we need all these new ways to report our health if we are indeed getting healthier with time? The medical industry is going deeper into its marriage with technology, and the reason it is worrisome is because it is inevitably pushing the pattern of replacing personnel with technology. I worry that we will have a goal to survive but end up bulldozing over our humanity to do so. 

So, I want to ask; if there is a dramatic difference between how much money is being pumped into the pharmaceutical world instead of hospitals, are we still thriving for wellness and health or have we pinpointed the most lucrative aspect of this business?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, and I know these are vague comments considering the subject matter, but maybe this is just the beginning of a thought process…

I’d love to know what you think.

talk soon

Ballistic xx

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