Surgery Without Lidocaine

A year and a half ago, when I had my arm sliced and diced to get rid of some scary looking cells, I yelled loudly when the doctor made a cut.

“You can feel that??” he looked at me with panicked eyes.

“YES!!!” I shouted back.

He grabbed a needle full of lidocaine and jammed it into my skin, immediately numbing any and all sensation. I felt instant relief and made the terrible decision to peer over the surgical drape and look at what was happening. Bad idea.

After he cut out anything suspect and stitched me up, he wrapped my arm in a bandage and warned me I’d feel significantly more pain than the same procedure on my leg from the week before. My arm was still numb so I brushed off his concerns but accepted the prescription for a few vicoden.

Slowly but surely, the lidocaine wore off and I started to feel blinding pain. I tried to distract myself and power through but the intensity grew with each passing hour. Eventually I couldn’t even pick my food up with my right hand because my arm hurt so badly.

The only thing I could think about was that I would never not feel pain in my arm again.

But as it does, the wound healed. It took time and was sensitive and pink and angry and a deformed scar built up which my doctor had to fix. I see that scar every day. Sometimes running my finger over it lightly, to remember all it represented. Sometimes not even seeing it though I’m staring straight at it.

And just like with my body, I had forgotten the numbness after emotional trauma wears off. That first slice is searing and you yell out for it to stop. Your heart and mind take over and inject their own form of lidocaine to keep you from pain. The evidence of the wound are there but you can detach. You can examine it for the bloody mess it is but not feel the depth of it because you’re numb.

But then the pain of loss and confusion and hurt set in. They creep into the hole in my heart and start to wake it up. They scream to be acknowledged and validated and given their time. It makes my brain fuzzy and the truth less clear. It distorts the words and memories and puts them in a wrong place. It disorients me.

As the pain grows and the lidocaine wears off, I start to think the pain will consume and remain and never leave. I start to think it will always be this way and always hurt. I try to find more lidocaine, more things to numb and cope. But what I forget is that just like my little pink scar, the wound will close, it won’t hurt to touch, and my brain will clear. I’ll be able to lift my hands to dance around in the sunlight.

I’ve decided to stop searching for more lidocaine because now I can remember that I’m strong enough to mend again. And if I keep myself numb I might never remember what it’s like to be whole.



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