Dr. K from Köln (Is there anyone Swiss in this hospital) arrives hoping I’ll agree to the pain test. The object is to identify women more susceptible to pain so they can reduce their suffering. He walks me to his office in the old part of the building. He has a Vincent van Gogh poster and mouse pad. He is happier to talk in English than in French, although we exchange a few words in German. I think he is in early thirties but he is in his mid-forties. All day I’ve been wondering when these kindergarteners have joined the medical profession.
Because I’m in jeans and stockings he gets me scrubs. I pretend I’m on Grey’s Anatomy. The test involves attaching three electrodes to my right leg while I relax on a black Barcalounger. He gives me very mild shocks at increasing intensity reassuring that I’m in control to stop anytime I want. I get to level 6. I probably could go one more level, but my dedication to science has early limits.
I then plunge my left hand in hot water and he repeats the series of shocks which bother me less.
I ask him if its distraction, but he doesn’t know, although he too would like too.
I see him the day after the surgery and will meet with him again when the stitches come out.