Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Almost six years ago, I had to undergo minor surgery and had to endure the pain of being administered spinal anesthesia. I was reminded of this recently because a loved one with an even lower pain tolerance than I did recently had to undergo a similar procedure

I have a pretty low tolerance for pain myself. I tried to spin it a bit positively in the blog post linked above, but there’s no question many times during the procedure I felt miserable and in lots of pain. Even just the process of being put on a dextrose was pretty uncomfortable for me, and laying there on the operating table hunched in a fetal position waiting to be administered spinal anesthesia was far worse. I even had to undergo anesthesia twice because I went back into the OR after some complications!

As I’ve written before, one of the worst things is the mental anticipation of pain. Those few moments waiting for the inevitable pinprick that will start an avalanche of pain. There’s a balance you have to strike between bracing yourself for the pain that you know is coming and not letting your fear of the coming pain somehow amplify it

For things like spinal anesthesia, or dextrose being hooked up, or blood samples being taken from your arm, you just have to pretty much grin and bear it. If you can’t avoid these scenarios you might as well just get through with it as quickly as possible. That’s why for medical problems, I prefer just doing what needs to be done, even if it means some measure of pain and discomfort. It’s better than letting discomfort linger and possibly reoccur and become more complicated

Prior to that operation, the most pain I’ve experienced was a toothache back in 2004. (Apparently I write about pain a lot). Toothaches are also pretty bad because unlike the pinpricks described above, they’re continuous pain. I only wanted to mention this part because I remembered that my dentist happened to read the blog post linked in this paragraph and gave me a frowny face over email when she read about me complaining of the pain haha

I look forward to the day that medical science advances quickly enough that pain relief is fast, easy, and painless, though that may take a while: apparently we don’t even completely understand how anesthesia works, we’re just glad that it does. Until then, we just grit our teeth and think happy thoughts and power through the pain


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