Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Fullboney

The human tolerance for pain is a completely individualistic experience. There is no hard value placed on the pain experienced by a paper cut versus a bullet wound, merely a nebulous, subconscious awareness that varies from person to person. While the temporary annoyance of a paper cut is a widely known concept, that of a bullet wound is considerably less so. As such, the description of "It feels like I got shot" falls into a narrow category of recognition if taken outside of hyperbole.

Whilst preparing a delicious salsa this past week, it happened that I was breaking in a new knife. Even though I've prepared countless vegetables, and even though I was specifically aware of "this is a new knife, better be careful," so it goes that I went right through a tomato and into a finger with hearty force. With bleeding akin to the St. Francis Dam disaster, a small amount of panic set in and thoughts of the emergency room came to mind. But after whatever lizard-brain function that overwrites much of the male thought pattern with "I can fix this" took hold, I was able to get things under control, dress the wound, and finish salsa preparations one handed. No small accomplishment in itself.

What perplexed me in the following time was something that should have hurt tremendously barely registered at all. The only conclusion I could come to was that I was already in pain, a higher, focused pain leading to the odd circumstance that negates lesser pain. My wisdom teeth, a years long disaster, had recently kicked into high gear and occupied the majority of mental concentration. A clear signal that their removal could wait no longer, I was forced to overcome a lifetime's worth of dental anxiety and promptly made arrangements for surgery.

Ah, yes, surgery. There are several classifications for tooth removal (something I am all too familiar with, re: anxiety). While two of my choppers pose little threat, the other two were categorized as severely impacted and slated for "FBE," or "Full Bone Extraction." Affectionately known to roll off the tongue of dental hygienists as a "fullboney."

Getting the rote speech of what to expect is more of an annoyance to me at this stage, wherein this last appointment I experienced the following conversation:

Nurse: We're going to numb you up, totally numb, don't worry, it won't hurt.

Me: No, no, I'm pretty sure it's going to hurt.

Nurse: No, really, totally numb, you won't feel anything.

Me: I've done this before, you feel it and it hurts. It hurts alot.

Nurse: Well everyone is different, you may want to consider nitrous oxide or even anesthesia.

Anesthesia, by the way, is an additional $500. It's an odd choice, with risk, albeit slight. The struggle comes in weighing the desire to be conscious for something you abhor the very thought of but yet have wanted for so very long... or to be out of mind for the experience, to awaken in a cloudy haze knowing that parts of you were forcebly removed in your sleepytime absence. You can imagine the anticipation.

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