Pain threshold

I eased my way back into work on Monday by doing a St John first-aid course.

They’re making everyone in the office do one and I was very not keen.

I promised myself when I finished the HSC – waaaaay back in the 80s – that I never had to study again. I’ve stuck to that vow ever since, aside from a few unsuccessful French lessons.

Sitting in the first-aid course made me realise that avoiding first-aid training until age 55 was a pretty dumb decision because it would have been very handy as the parent of young children, plus I know people with virtually all the medical conditions that were covered.

The youngest, for example, has been carrying an Epipen around since she was about seven years old – due to a nut allergy – and, until yesterday, I didn’t have a clue how to use it.

It turns out you have to make the person sit on their hands (well, that’s one of the techniques) to ensure they don’t accidentally punch you in the face when you stick the EpiPen in their leg because the needle is HUGE.

They also taught us the mantra “Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh”. The orange end of the EpiPen has the needle in it and if you accidentally point it to the sky and try to depress it with your thumb the needle will go straight through your finger and nail and create mass internal destruction.


I found the course both informative and distressing as it cycled through the various conditions people I know have experienced, ranging from heart attacks to strokes, choking, epileptic fits and anaphylaxis. Even the bluebottle sting section got my heart racing, as the four-year-old youngest being stung by one ranks as one of my least favourite days ever.

Conditions that haven’t popped up in my immediate circle also freaked me out, as I am not good with the concept of people being in pain.

Actually causing someone more pain by cleaning gravel out of their wound freaks me out.

And the timing could have been better for the amputation section of the course. Seconds after being shown a video on how to put a severed finger in a ziplock bag and on ice, we were sent on our lunch break.

A burrito possibly wasn’t the wisest meal choice …

At the end of the day we were given a final test of dealing with a “real-life” emergency. Mine involved using the aforementioned EpiPen. I screwed up by failing to hold down the leg that I was injecting it into. You need to make sure you have restrained the leg so that the person you’re sticking the HUGE needle into doesn’t jerk away and stop the adrenaline being injected properly.

I also didn’t realise you should carry around two EpiPens, as each shot of adrenaline only lasts a short amount of time.


But I passed the course, thank heavens.

Song of the day: REM “Everybody hurts”

2 thoughts on “Pain threshold

Add yours

  1. yeah, I finally took both my first aid and cpr a year ago, and almost time to retake the CPR course….I lead run groups so I should have…you never know…I’m not an expert at chest compressions, and at yelling at people to call 911!….and yes, 3 kids, and aging parents it’s handy to have..I am the most squeamish person on the face of the earth, so a few times during the course I thought I was going to faint, but toughed it out – instructed on what to do if someone I was with severed their stomach and all their insides fell out… I know that fainting isn’t an option, but the chances of that happening during a run?…..oh well, now I’m ready

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: