Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Only the numbness really bothered me. Hours after my wisdom teeth were removed, some of the most sensitive parts of my skin--particularly my lips and my tongue had effectively disappeared. Although there was almost no swelling or bruising, and pain was negligable, I couldn't eat. Mechanically, there was no real reason why I couldn't shove any apple sauce down my
throat in the first five hours after surgery.
It was almost as if could not believe in the existence of my lips and mouth--so powerful is skin sensation to that area, the highest concentrations of skin sensor neurons in the body. My tongue, navigating the slick ridges of my mouth-cavern, seems to have a kind of map, without which my mouth basically shuts down; like a driver that KNOWS the highway does not turn for miles, but, when blindfolded, will not be able to stay on the road.

Johns Stuart Mill once wrote that modern civilization is dangerous because it removes people from pain--exises one of the most important forces that forge great heros, that makes the character of an individual.

Numbness probably disturbs me for similar reasons. Like Mill and others after him, I fear civilization's table of ether, which tames all the most intense passions in life. I find it so hard to find a kabbalat shabbat service outside of Jerusalem where I can cry and scream and sing and dance with people.

Anaesthesia, for me, is more dangerous than pain because it brings me closer to the edge of the great abyss of sensory deprivation, closer to death. I find it so difficult to engage all my senses to their fullest when they are unimpeded; I feel intensely scared when confronted with the mutability of any of my senses, because then I must stare into my own mutability.

So I combat the novacane, Carlebach-style.