Brain surgery, sort of

January 30, 2017

As I lay in bed last night, I suffered the recollection of an immensely traumatic event in my life and the life of my then-newborn son. My wife and I had to watch him shriek and wail for the better part of an hour under local surgery while a nurse held down his infant arms. To make matters worse, I will never know if the topical over-the-counter anesthetic really worked.

I will never forget his utter pain and helplessness, and I feel I should have insisted the doctor take a different approach but I did not know better. It was excruciating to witness as a father, and the severe hurt that I feel at the memory of him going through that pain is deep and abiding. The memory of it recurs regularly and it paralyses me to the point of breathlessness. Since then, whenever we put him on his back to change his diaper and clean him, he shrieks as he did that day. It is as though somewhere deep inside his infant brain the emotional trauma has stuck, enforcing a reflex to avoid being held down. And this makes me deeply regret even more the trauma he suffered. And deep inside my own mind the trauma also resides.

As I was gripped with this post-traumatic anxiety again last night, I prayed so hard that God heal him completely, in the name of Jesus Christ, from any emotional effects that he might be suffering as a result of that traumatic event.

Moments later, just before falling asleep, the word “amygdala” popped into my mind, but I did not know the meaning of the word. Not having a clue as to why I would’ve received it I said “honey, remind me tomorrow to look up the word amygdala,” and promptly fell asleep.

This morning I looked up the word. The amygdalae (singular: amygdala) are two almond shaped parts inside the brain. “In complex vertebrates, including humans, the amygdalae perform primary roles in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Research indicates that, during fear conditioning, sensory stimuli reach the basolateral complexes of the amygdalae, particularly the lateral nuclei, where they form associations with memories of the stimuli.”

Then I thought to myself, “why in the world should I have received this word?” And then it hit me: I had just been praying to God in the name of Jesus Christ to heal my son from the phobia that he has suffered since that traumatic event. It was then that I recollected how oddly peaceful and at ease my son was this morning when I changed his diaper and cleaned him.

The word signifies to me that as soon as I had received it, my son, who then lay sleeping, must have been healed. And maybe I had been also.


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