Uncomfortably numb | Off the Record

My friend Joey is a Scotch drinker. Perhaps I should actually call him a Scotch connoisseur and as such, he loves to share his good taste with others — including me.

Several years ago, Joey introduced me Scotch which prior to tasting with him I’d always thought was like drinking burning diesel. But once Joey introduced me to some Speyside brands I understood the acquired taste for a good smooth single malt. Since then, I’ve done several different tastings with Joey and “refined” my pallet which has grown in sophistication to I either like it and can swallow it — or I hate it and reflexively spit it out. Hence the reason Joey never drinks Scotch with me in public.

A while back, probably several years ago now, Joey gave me a wee dram of Balvenie Doublewood, a 12-year-old single malt by Distillery Banffshire. The amber liquid passed my lips and slid over my tongue making it instantly numb before running down my throat.

It was more effective and disconcerting than any analgesic ever administered by a dentist. I had numb tongue — or as I pronounced it “um hung” — for the next hour. I couldn’t eat, drink or speak clearly much to the amusement of Joey, his wife Linda and my husband.

I was left thinking there couldn’t be anything more disconcerting than a completely numb tongue. This week I discovered I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

I went in for an outpatient surgery on my left thumb to remove a cist (eww ick) caused by a bone spur on my knuckle (eww ick, ouch). Not a big deal in the realm of getting sliced open, cut on and stitched up except for the fact that it took “more than the usual amount” of local anesthesia to get me numbed up.

Everything went well (thanks for asking) and I left the doc’s office pain-free with my left thumb swaddled up like the Baby Jesus in a “thumbs up” position and a little sleepy from the Valium. No big deal. I just went home to sleep it all off as the doc said it would take a “few hours” for everything to wear off.

I awoke after about four hours and while the Valium had clearly worn off, I most definitely still had numb thumb. It was cold to the touch and still 100-percent without feeling. No big deal I thought, it’s my left hand. I can still get some things done. Uh, yeah, no.

I couldn’t write ‘cause I couldn’t type as my thumb, which I decided looked more like a pig in a blanket than the Baby Christ Child, was so bulky and uncontrollable it kept arbitrarily hitting the space-key mid word. I couldn’t do dishes ‘cause I couldn’t get it wet (aww bummer). I couldn’t knit or pick anything up so I started to dust the house like a literal “one armed paper hanger.” It was very discomfiting not to mention awkward, but I persevered and got the task done.

By the time I got done with the lowly chore it was time to start dinner prep. Yeah right. I fumbled and klutzed my way through a bit of vegetable chopping — things go flying off the cutting board or slip dangerously when you can’t get a grip — before giving up and deciding to take a bath. Showering was not an option as I was instructed not get the wound wet for several days.

I started to draw the bath and began to get undressed, yet another challenge with no opposable left digit. I didn’t realize how big the problem really was until I tried to unhook my bra.

As I struggled with the hooks behind my back I thought of the expression “she’s all thumbs” meaning clumsy and in that moment how stupid it was. If I was all thumbs, I thought, as I twisted, grasped, pulled, tugged, fidgeted and finagled I’d be able to get out of this dang bra because I would have opposable digits. But nooooo I was ridiculously thwarted by an under garment and a numb thumb. And no matter how I twisted, how I turned, how I tried to grasp the little, teeny, tiny hooks would not come undone. I, on the other hand, the one with a fully functional opposing thumb, was completely undone.

The bath was full, the bubbles were high, the steam was rising and the lovely, calming scent of lavender were all calling to me and there I was stuck naked except for the darn irremovable bra.

At a certain point you just gotta know when to cut your losses and in that moment, all alone I threw caution out the door and just climbed into the tub…bra and all.

And that is where my beloved found me when he got home.

“How are you doing?” he asked completely ignoring the fact that I was in the tub wearing a bra.

I just gave him a numb thumbs up, then the bird and sank deeper into the bubbles.

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