Note of clarity.
There is something very pure about the pitch of the cry given out by the nerves around a fresh wound to the body, no matter how insignificant. A half-dollar-sized blister formed against the side of my left heel yesterday from an ill-advised walk in new shoes had a new-fangled silicone plaster applied to it, but during sleep, I managed to scrape both plaster and blister off of my foot. I sat up in bed, having gone from deep sleep to immediate awareness in a scant second.
After treating the wound with scissors, 91% alcohol (oh yeah. Feel the burn.) Neosporin, and band-aids, I realized that I was up, and that there was no fighting it.
I got to thinking about pain.
Spider Robinson makes the superb point that one of the most damnable things about pain is that the body will continue to alert you to some injury or irritation, even when there's nothing you can do to alleviate it. Dammit, there needs to be an "Off" switch. Or at least a snooze alarm. There are people who live with constant pain in their lives, and have treated it the best that they can, and will die with that pain... but can't make it stop.
Well dammit, that's just inefficient, is what it is.
As the pain of my relatively insignificant (self-induced, through stupidity) wound faded away, I thought about the worst pains I had ever felt. The worst was when, as a 5 year-old, I fell from an 8-foot height from an oak tree, and broke my right radius and ulna, and dislocated my elbow. My parents insisted that the bones be set by an orthopedic surgeon (I'm now grateful for this, as the evidence of the break is almost imperceivable), and that night I spent sleepless as the swelling caused my arm to fill the thin expansion cut in the plaster cast.
The most pain for the smallest wound? Dental pain. I simply can't think of anything else, until it's cleared up.
Small glass shards in the foot are over-achievers in the injury-versus-pain ratio, too.
My wife, awakened by my self-ministering, told me that the worst pain she's ever felt was childbirth. She had an epidural halfway through our second child, and given the pain that I observed, I was so thankful when the medication filled her spinal cord. She said that the second place was when a poorly-applied root canal (thanks a whole frickin' lot, Monarch Dental) came loose in her jaw.
Now, an hour and a half later, the pain is virtually gone. It was just that square inch of skin being ripped away that made the peripheral nervous system ganglia sing for a bit.
Maybe I'll take a nap, in a bit.