Without sensation

Without sensation

Anaesthesia, pronunciation: /ˌanɪsˈθiːzɪə/, noun: insensitivity to pain, especially as artificially induced by the administration of gases or the injection of drugs before surgical operations:

Origin: early 18th century: modern Latin, from Greek anaisthēsia, from an- ‘without’ + aisthēsis ‘sensation’.

Lying naked on the bed, covered only by a thin sheet, I wonder if I’ve lived enough. I’m in a small room. It’s cold. It’s so cold that I shiver under that scanty layer of difference between decency and exposure. The blue, low light creates surprisingly few shadows and everything feels flat and muted. I can hear voices across the wall. They sound loud, but however hard I strain, I can’t distinguish a single word.

Everything seems deadened even though my senses are not dampened. Not yet. It reminds me of falling asleep at my Grandmother’s when I was a little girl and she alive. I’m cuddling the cold wall to leave enough room on the too-small bed for her. The TV is on, but I have already fallen into that no man’s land of no longer the full consciousness but not quite yet the full slumber, where the reality floats and bends around you through sounds muffled beyond perception, yet somehow still strangely in your field of awareness.

Someone puts a blanket on me and the feeling of its load on my body drags me away from Grandma’s cold wall. “It won’t be long now,” says the voice. Now I shiver again, but this time I don’t think it’s the cold. I look towards the ceiling, towards the walls covered in what looks to me like old-fashioned kitchen cabinets, but they are not quite right. They are covered in stickers and notes. It’s all well organised, but I sense there are too many things in this room. It irritates me. Someone squeezes my hand. I gently squeeze back. I’m grateful for the squeeze.

Have I lived enough? Have I loved enough?

The voices converge and I can feel them circling around me with more urgency now. It irritates me too. It feels so banal. They talk about everyday things, as if today was like every day.

“She’s one of those that gets nervous,” says the voice this time not to me, but my cold fingers are squeezed again. I feel bad for being resentful because the fingers even though warm and clammy are touching more than just my hand. They’re touching something much deeper, in a way that is more profound. Lord’s peace be with you. And with your spirit. But I am the sacrificial lamb. Suddenly, there are other sounds behind the wall. There is shuffling. The door opens and a large faceless figure covered from head-to-toe in thin blue gauze walks in. I’m not ready. I’m not ready! Just let me count to ten. Let me be a little longer. Have I lived enough!? Have I loved enough!?

Another squeeze. I feel something wet on my cheek. It takes me a while to realise it’s a tear. Someone silently wipes it for me. I’m grateful. There’s pain and I’m connected and ready. They all stand around me and look at me, while I’m slowly drifting away into nothingness. I know they will continue to mill around me, now able to expose and prepare my as-if lifeless body. For them, it’s just a day like every day. But I’m no longer there.

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