The Corpus Callosum

Wisdom Teeth

anatomy has little quirks.  One of mine, is the length of the
of my wisdom teeth.  They go down halfway to Sulawesi.

I was in college, I had to have two of them extracted.  The
surgeon told me they were “difficult extractions.”
 Magnanimous as
he was, he gave me a prescription for Tylenol #3.  Which is
they give you when they want you to think you are getting something
that will work, even though they know perfectly well that it is
completely useless.

So I went back to the house where I was
renting a room.  There was this strange guy there.
like that happen in college.  One of your housemates invites
someone over, and they end up staying for days, or weeks, but too long
in any event.

I was never sure exactly who was responsible for
this visitation.  Then we got to talking and I told him my
hurt, and why.  He said something like “dude, just try some of
this.”  Reaches into a backpack and pulls out an enormous bag
dried leaves of cannabis sativa.  

I knew perfectly well
that that would be useless, too.  Cannabis is not particularly
effective for acute pain.  So I waved that off.

The guy
hung around for a couple of weeks, stank up the place, eventually ran
out of pot, and moved on.  I have no idea where he went.

I did, rather than mess around with drugs, was to go down to my room,
which was in the basement, and listen to Patti Smith,
real loud.
 I had a fairly new pair of Polk Audio Monitor Series 5
 Modest, but effective.

The basement room was somewhere that nobody else would live.
 But because of that, it was only $100 a month.
 There were books everywhere, which improved the acoustics.

Listening to Patti Smith did not alleviate the pain at all.
 What it did, was to make the experience more interesting.

Unlike the opioids, which make everything dull.

Smith is to the limbic system what Ikebana is to botany.  She
takes raw emotion and shows it to you in a new way.  There
is an unsettled precision to the display.  

A composition by Johann
Sebastian Bach has mathematical precision.  A composition by
Smith has passion precision.  It isn’t digital, of course.
 It is like she has a genlock for brain waves.

To those who haven’t seen it yet, here is a link to Patti Smith’s
.  Nicely done.  Check out, in
particular, the ihavesomeinformationforyou
link.  It’s like a blog, but it is just a series of entries.
 There’s no RSS feed.  Can’t have everything, I

Also you can listen to an acoustic
she did in the Current studio, archived by
Minnesota Public Radio.  If you haven’t heard anything by her
yet, you can cut your teeth on this one.  You’ll find that the
roots of her wisdom go pretty deep.


  1. #1 Russell
    April 24, 2008

    I was once prescribed some hydrocodone after some minor surgery. I took the first dose, and while it alleviated the pain, it also made me feel as if my brain were wrapped in cotton. Which I hated. After that first dose, I decided I’d rather have the pain and a functioning brain, and never took any more of those damned pills.

    We really need some powerful analgesics that don’t warp the mind. I know that might be a tall order, since pain, ultimately, is in the head.

  2. #2 stumpy
    April 24, 2008

    Which Patti Smith did you listen to? “Horses”, maybe? I saw Patti Smith up in Ann Arbor a long time ago, and it was a painful experience. She and her band took forever to come on stage, and it was a SRO hot sweaty event to benefit AIDS victims. People were fainting in the audience, and the warm-up band’s base player kept taunting the crowd, saying things like, “At least we’re doing something”, meaning that the band was contributing something positive to the universe, whereas we, the audience, were not. Eventually, Patti’s late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, came out to play. He looked like he was near death, and Patti had to prompt him to remind him what he needed to do (play guitar). We had to leave before the main act came on. I still like Patti Smith, however, and in fact my 8yr old daughter has recently learned to play “Gloria” on her wee electric guitar, after being inspired by Patti Smith’s version. So those are my Patti Smith stories.

  3. #3 Joseph j7uy5
    April 25, 2008

    I am pretty sure it was Easter. Stumpy should starts his own blog with stories like that.

    I thought your daughter was into Blind Faith.

  4. #4 stumpy
    April 25, 2008

    Not to my knowledge. I meant to say something also about other great music that is all about pain. There are two albums that stand out in this regard, and two songs off these albums in particular that are wonderfully bleak. The albums are “Plastic Ono Band”, which everyone knows was John Lennon’s primal scream album, and “Electroshock Blues”, by a band called The Eels. The two songs are “My Mummy’s Dead”, which Lennon sings to the crushingly banal tune of “Three Blind Mice” and, bleakest of all songs ever written in English, “Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor”, from ESB. Generally speaking, I think that the emotion that lends itself best to rock music is anger. Devastation and loss are close seconds. Love and happiness are down the list a ways, and serve a pop context more easily.

  5. #5 Julie Stahlhut
    April 30, 2008

    Interesting to note the variation among humans in our response to pain control. I’ve been prescribed both hydrocodone and codeine after several injuries and surgeries. Both meds are incredibly and very rapidly effective for me, and both make me only mildly sleepy rather than truly euphoric — which is good, because that means I have no urge at all to abuse these meds by taking them when nothing actually hurts. However, I’ve also been given Darvon and Demerol for pain after dental work and such. Neither helps me at all. (At least I don’t have my mother’s reaction to Demerol, which is to throw up.)

    As an undergrad, I briefly believed a friend who said his ex-girlfriend swore by tetrahydrocannabinol for menstrual cramps. My experience: First, smoking up did nothing at all for my cramps. Second, the smoke gave me a nasty sore throat and a painful cough, adding to my misery. Third, the drug caused me to concentrate intensely on the pain with no possibility of distraction. If I believed in hell, that’s what I’d be afraid it would be like.

    I’m in favor of drug decriminalization, and have no objections to medical marijuana use, but if I ever have a health condition for which therapeutic marijuana is an option, I think I’ll exhaust all other options first.

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