I write this with an aching back, enjoying the fact I had minor surgery today. Why “enjoy?” Because I’ve been fortunate to enjoy good health my whole life. No broken bones, no cavities, no major illnesses. Well, nothing I needed to be hospitalized for, at least. So my experience with hospitals has been nominal; mostly to visit babies born or see relatives in their last days. The major exception was the one time where – long story short – my hand went through a window. One trip to the ER later and I came out with a few minor scars, but no loss in motor skills or feeling. Like I said – good fortune in health.
That hasn’t made me any less jumpy about going to the doctor – for anything. General check-ups make me antsy, and the threat of needles in any capacity sends my heart rate skyrocketing. So when I was diagnosed with a sebaceous cyst in high school, I didn’t take it well. When I was told it wasn’t threatening and could be left alone, I just about ran from the room, certain it meant I could ignore it and be scott free. Over the years, I learned the hard way that – no – it wouldn’t just go away. In fact, it could make itself quite the literal pain in the back.
So now that I’m a card-carrying Canadian, it was high time to enjoy the fruits of universal health care and get that sucker removed. And as I lay on the operating table, thinking calming thoughts and willing my muscles to relax, I thought back to the other night so long ago when a nurse was washing glass shards out of my hand.
Those of weak constitutions skip ahead – I’m fascinated by the experience, but you might find it too gruesome.
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Still here? Anyway – both times, I found the sensation fascinating. Both then and now, the novocain going in hurt, and that first pass with the scalpel when the novocain hadn’t kicked in wasn’t pleasant, but it was an otherwise painless procedure. Like someone was tugging on old leather, or tying a shoe. I was well aware this was my own flesh been cut, pulled, snipped and sewn. I heard and felt the scissor-like snipping, but outside of the context, there wasn’t anything unsettling. The little bits of flesh, bright red-pink and sitting on the counter, were pieces of me. But it didn’t hurt. It was disconnected while being very connected. This is probably banal to anyone who’s dealt with far more serious injuries, but for me, it was still a novel experience.
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Okay squeamish folks – you can come back now.
It also struck me at just how fortunate I am to have these resources. I went in, got the treatment, and at minimal pain. Go back 150 years and you had rags to bite and hopefully be drunk enough to not care. It was in a sterile environment with kind and well-trained staff. I realize I’m making a big deal out of a ten minute procedure, but I think it’s important to be thankful for the little things in life. That’s why I’m sitting here, grimacing but “enjoying” it. And now that it’s over, it’s certainly a load off my mind. Or my back, at least.