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  • Writer's pictureLee Weaver

THE WHITE COFFIN

Unlike a lot of folks, I was never too much a slave to phobias, except for one (you’ll have to stay with me to find out what that one is!). Sure, there have been a few things that at first I struggled with briefly, but somehow I’ve always worked through.


My first challenge was not really a phobia but sheer dread! At age 6, just about to start public school I had to have my tonsils removed. In those days the anesthetic of choice was a gas mask. It required the efforts and strength of five nurses to get that thing over my nose and face! That incident could have affected my response to physical medical interventions for life, but no, I now handle those things pretty well.


The exception to “pretty well” was when I had cataract surgery – I had a distinct hesitancy when in my imagination I could see that knife getting closer and closer to my eyeball! But no, I was anesthetized and didn’t know a thing; a huge shout-out to the anesthesiologist!


Another early-life instance was in elementary school. Fire drills were held from time to time, and when I stepped out an upper floor onto that little metal grid fire escape platform the ground seemed awfully far below.


Along the way I overcame most of this type of challenge, until the next real test! In the early – mid-80s I was heading up the Energy Loan Department at First National Bank in Fort Worth. When physical assets were pledged as collateral for a loan it was our policy to, when practical, visit the site of the assets to confirm the suitability as loan collateral. We had a customer who in addition to oil and gas interests, has coal mines in Kentucky. A couple of us bank officers decided we needed to confirm the working status of the mining operation, so we flew up to Kentucky (I don’t remember which city) then took a puddle-jumper plane to the mine site. I have never ever feared flying, but in this case the landing site was in a low valley between mountains. (These mountains are not like the Rockies, but still. . ....!) The pilot had to come in over the mountains, then immediately lose altitude to the valley runway. I was flying righthand seat; with the pilot handling the stick and rudder and me praying we made a perfect landing.


The real test was about to come! We were about to be introduced to our access to the mine. I learned a new term about coal mining: “low coal.” The coal veins are about three feet thick, so the miners cut into the mountain horizontally rather than a vertical shaft. The cut is only about three feet high, floor to ceiling, thus access for the mining crew is a six-foot-wide trailer in which they lie down, the trailer being pulled by a special tractor which is also just three feet high. The tractor driver is lying down, looking forward but alongside the tractor.


If you can picture riding such a conveyance, penetrating a mile underneath a mountain, with the black coal just inches from your nose, you may also picture how hard I was praying, “Lord, please get me out of here and I’ll never be under a mountain again until they fill over my grave!”


(This incident also appears in my blogs under the title “How Dark is Really Dark?”)


Eventually another big test presented a challenge.


I’ve experienced headaches for years but until the last two or three years they were less frequent and less intense. As frequency and intensity increased, I’ve consulted a number of medical providers from family care doctors to neurologists to oncologists, without success. We’ve run CAT scans, ultrasounds and MRIs; sometimes I fear exploratory surgery might be recommended; that might confirm what the last cat discovered – the cranium is empty!


But oh man - what a device they have for running those scans! When I checked in at the imaging lab, a figure in a white coat took me to the chamber (torture?) and told me to shuck anything metal – glasses, pen, belt buckle, etc. etc. Then they had me lie down (I expected shackles, but they were not immediately apparent) and put earmuffs on my head with the comment “it can get a little noisy in there.” After lying down, head on pillow, instructions (don’t move, take a deep breath and hold it until told to breathe normal, squeeze this little bulb to signal the operator just before you panic), with their foot on a switch, you are slid into the pizza oven. (Well no, it’s not brick; its hospital white.) Depending on the body site being scanned, the victim (oops: patient) will be transported into the white tunnel either feet first or headfirst. This is marginally better than the low coal mine – your nose is inches below a clean white surface rather than the darker-than-midnight coal face. Even so, it’s good to be caught up in your prayer life. Like the G I’s in a war zone, there’s apt to be some foxhole conversions here.


As you’re being transported, horizontally, into the white maw of the machine and they start the procedure, the “it can get a little noisy in there” becomes grinding noises, bumps and knocks as if the devil and his minions are intent on dragging the victim (oops! there I go again; the patient) out of what now appears to be a white coffin, contending with the med tech for your body! One is almost surprised when after thirty minutes or so, the tech reverses the bed and out you come! The archangel Michael wins again and your spirit rejoices, saying “Thank You Jesus!”


As many of you readers have surmised, my greatest challenge is claustrophobia. Sometimes but definitely not always I can subjugate the fear.


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1 commentaire


Membre inconnu
09 nov. 2023

Great Blog!

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