Wednesday 27 October 2010 was the day I acquired a modest, but important, skill: that of plunging a short, sharp needle into my abdomen and then injecting the contents of the syringe attached.
The deliberate infliction of pain and discomfort on myself is something I have consistently made strenuous efforts to avoid, my 25 years plugging away in the legal profession notwithstanding, and so you may guess the degree of keenness with which I approached my new assignment.
I had toyed with the idea that I could find someone to perform this simple but unpleasant task for me, a mixture of practicality and self-respect nudged me towards DIY.
Better get on with it, then...
The hospital had given me a box of pre-filled syringes and some alcohol wipes with which to cleanse my skin of bugs (whether this was all nasties, or just the 99.9% so sought after by disinfectant producers, I was not sure). The syringes were to be kept in the fridge until needed, another reminder that the clear liquid they contained was a sort of living thing and not an ordinary drug. It all felt quite cutting-edge to one used over the years to your average chalky white tablets and greasy ointments.
I decided that the kitchen, the room in the house with the most natural light, would be the best place to carry out the procedure and so I positioned one of the chairs just so. Next I washed my hands thoroughly and took a single syringe from the box in the fridge and, after placing it on the kitchen table, sat down and rolled up my shirt. I took a wipe from its sachet, unfolded its modest white expanse and-never one to take chances, least of all now-wiped its moist coolness over a far wider expanse of my abdomen than was probably necessary.
Taking the short clear plastic syringe in my right hand, I removed the cap covering the short, stout needle. Having contemplated its modest length and undoubted sharpness for a brief moment I finally put aside all reserve, placed the needle perpendicular to my nervous flesh and drove it up to the hilt through my slightly resistant skin.
I was pleasantly surprised that the resulting sensation was more modest than when another person was wielding the needle. So far so good.
Now for the object of the exercise. I pressed the plunger of the syringe home. The spring inside the implement ensured, by providing resistance, that this movement was carried out with consistent pressure and at a uniform speed throughout the two inches or so of the plunger's journey.
Relieved when this was done, I kept the plunger depressed as I withdrew the needle. When I released the spring-loaded plunger ingenious catches ensured that the needle receded within the body of the syringe and was fixed in place so that it could not be used a second time or cause accidental injury.
Reminiscent of the noble honeybee that stings once but then must die, the used syringe was consigned to the sharps box with a reassuring clatter. It would joined by four more over the following days.
|The sort of syringe I was dealing with: beautifully engineered and, I am told, rather expensive.|