Last Wednesday was the third time that I underwent a dorsal ganglion nerve root block, in layman’s terms a spinal epidural or injection. Three, has during this back fiasco, become a number with huge connotations. It is the maximum number of repetitions of the procedure that the surgeon feels it is safe for me to have. It is also the predicted number of days, which if I incur a flare up after the procedure, it is estimated to last. So, three, for me, has become a number associated with permanence. If there has been no improvement after 3 procedures, or 3 days, disappointment cannot help but engulf me.
It is interesting to see that within Judaism, three is also a number of significance. We shake the lulav three times on Sukkot. We also have to ask for forgiveness three times. According to Jewish law, if repeated three times, an act is considered a permanent thing, it is “chazakah”.
As can be imagined, the third day of the third procedure had an aura of expectation enveloping it. “Third time lucky” had been the phrase I had used countless times when people had inquired about whether I had improved. Yesterday was day four, and rather than a noticeable improvement or some sign of recovery, which would indicate my wishful “third time lucky”, it was a day of relentless pain and sickness.
I am, to the best of my ability, ignoring Judaism’s idea of three times indicating permanence and trying to remain ever realistically optimistic. Like the flowers in my room, I am still waiting for the lilies to open.