Losing Body Parts

Visual dictionary of parts of the body.It’s a week on from Chewy’s thumb incident and he’s coming along nicely. The wounds are drying up and starting to itch and I even managed to look at it the other day. Although it’s still a bit of a mess, it is still recognisable as a thumb, if a shorter-than-average one.

Psychologically, it’s been another journey. We were out on Saturday, and he was very quiet. When I asked what was wrong, he said his thumb was hurting. Now patience isn’t my strong point, and I was getting a bit fed up with this thumb story. After all, I said, all that’s happened is that you’ve lost a quarter of an inch of flesh. It’s not as if you’ve lost a whole thumb, or a hand or an arm. In the grand scheme of his 75kg of body, he’s lost about 5 grammes. It’s nothing. Nothing at all. I was puzzled how, such an apparently minor loss could still be having such a big impact. He’s hurt other parts of his body before (including his thumb) and after a couple of days he’s bounced back.

The response was interesting. He talked about losing his integrality (if that’s a word) and explained the shock of seeing a part of his own body lying on the ground. He said it was a completely different experience to the regular kinds of self-inflicted wounds, where you don’t actually chop anything off. I was struck by how vivid the mental realisation of, “that’s a part of me lying over there” still was. The discussion was an eye-opener. If this is how hard it is to assimilate the loss of something very minor, I cannot imagine how hard it must be to come to terms with the loss of major body part, like a leg or an arm. Or a function, like hearing or seeing. How lucky I am not to have to know.

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