I went to have my second round of Botox injections today for the chronic migraines. As I was sitting in my pretty paper gown in the middle of a room facing a wall with a moderately terrible painting on it and a piece of paper listing a number of dangerous narcotics in utter silence while the doctor and his assistant prepared numerous needles behind me, I thought, this is fucking terrible. So I said something like, “Does anyone ever play music in here? You need music in here. The silence is unbearable, it’s like this ominous, weighty silence and you can almost feel the needles coming.” The doctor chuckled and said, “Well, I can hum or whistle for you if you like.” Then he actually started humming and that was just unacceptable.
I kept thinking, I have my MP3 player RIGHT over there on the counter and it has tiny speakers on it. But I was feeling afraid to ask if I could use it.
This sort of attitude is kind of my natural state–to have an idea that might be great, but slightly off the beaten path, and therefore I feel embarrassed and I don’t say or do anything about it. I’m not sure where this lack of self-esteem comes from, but I pushed through the shyness this time and much to my surprise, said, “My MP3 player has speakers!” My doctor said, “…well do you WANT to play some music? You can play some music.” And then he shrugged. SUCCESS! This led to a long discussion as to what I should play. He wanted me to play opera or a tango, but my MP3 player isn’t loaded with his favorites, so I ended up picking “Mars” from Holst’s The Planets (here’s a good recording of it by the Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan conducting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhbhLtEju2A, it’s only 7:22 long… listen at a fairly high volume for the full effect). For any of you unfamiliar with the piece, it’s intense, as Holst was trying to capture the essence of the Greek gods associated with various planets–in this case, Mars is associated with Ares, the god of war. So the music evokes a sense of impending apocalypse, terror, energy, power… it was a really, REALLY funny soundtrack for such unpleasantness. Fitting in a the darkest possible way.
Rather than trying not to cry or freak out like the first time I got the injections, this time, I was trying not to laugh. It still hurt and occasionally I would focus on the music or pretend that the next injection site was definitely going to be the least painful one. Point is, the music made the experience entirely different. See if you can get your doctor to let you play some music while you get the injections done, or any procedure you don’t enjoy that happens while you’re awake. It doesn’t have to be funny; maybe you want to hear something soothing, or some heavy metal, rap, tango, old-timey country, whatever you like. But I recommend going the dark-humor route. See how not upset I am only about 30 minutes after the injections?