Modern day humans can thank someone or something for anesthesia—full or local. I just finished a novel set in the 1700’s (The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald), in which operations were performed after the patient received a shot of brandy.
I have survived several operations in my life under full narcosis. Yesterday, I learned that anesthesia does not dull all senses (one does not notice anything under full narcosis). One still feels cold and heat, as well as pressure. Fortunately, as long as pain is missing, other sensations are irrelevant. Of course, one can hear doctors and nurses babbling. I kept waiting to hear an “oh, oh”, but was spared that trauma. I knew already, but was reminded, that the sound of skin being cut is similar to the sound made by scissors cutting paper or cloth. It’s an unpleasant noise, but one gets over it.
While being cut up and sewn back together, I thought about the resilience of the human body. That got me thinking about how little a body needs to survive and how much humans can endure. Anyone that has seen documentaries or read about subsistence folks, Indian peasants and slum dwellers, or life in concentration camps (or read Anthony Beevor’s Stalingrad) already understand what I mean.
In many advanced societies, people have so much and have come to think that they cannot survive on less. Such people avoid thinking about how the homeless, which they pass by and ignore, and people living below the poverty level can survive. Such an existence is far less comfortable, but humans continue to exist.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.