Friday, June 09, 2006


I woke up in the middle of the night with my whole arm numb. I was laying on it wrong and the blood quit circulating and so … numbness. It was kind of funny as I got up because it was useless, I could lift it but I had no fine motor control. It was reminiscent of the Tim Conway/Harvey Korman routine where Tim is a dentist and keeps giving himself a shot of Novocain instead of Harvey and as various parts of his body go numb Harvey cannot stop laughing while in the dentist’s chair. It is one of my favorite Carol Burnett Show moments. So here I was standing at the sink trying to brush my teeth with a numb arm. I held the brush in my good arm and squeezed the toothpaste all over the counter with my bad arm. I even tried to brush with my bad arm and it looked more like I was shaving than brushing. I was laughing at myself (I do that a lot) until ….

It started with a tingling in my arm as blood began coming back into my veins. The tingling quickly turned into a million pinpricks attacking my arm and successfully covering every square inch. With the toothpaste still on my face I drop the brush and flex my arm muscles attempting to hurry the wave of pain along. The wave lessens to a dull ache and I can finally clean my face, no longer smiling. I am sure all of us have experience this numbness to pinpricks to dull ache cycle many time in our lives.

What came to my mind was the numbness that I got the last time I was on drugs. Legally mind you, but I was taking painkillers for recently pulled teeth and I remember the numbness. My mind was lazy, my body was unresponsive, and sleep was fleetingly shallow. After a while I was faced with a decision, I knew in my cloudy mind that I could not stay like this forever, eventually I would have to face the pain and get off the drugs. I did, the pinpricks came, and finally the dull ache before I returned to my version of normal.

I believe many people don’t make that choice. The upcoming pain is too hard to face so they stay in the cloudy comfort of numbness. They keep the circulation cut off without realizing that for every minute there is no circulation, that piece of you dies a little bit more. Numbness seems peaceful and easy and pain may seem prickly and hard but it does mean you are coming alive.

No comments: