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When you are given a local anesthetic (say, when you are to receive stitches for a deep cut), it is effective during the procedure, but you may notice that, as it wears off, an inverse effect occurs: the area becomes more sensitive than it was before. While the event is going on, there is protection, but once the protective layering is removed, a release occurs. It pays to be aware of this recoil mechanism; otherwise, it can hit you in the face! the cover formed by the impact of the event is now removed, and that the person is now emotionally “exposed to the elements.” As a result, there is a delayed response to the event that took place some days ago. The response will vary greatly, depending on the particular event and individual concerned. Given this large variation in what we can expect, the general term “reaction” is used to describe this emotional response that usually takes weeks to months to complete. For a number of patients, some remnants of it can persist into the next phase of the journey.
We can see that as the body starts to heal, the mind may, in contrast, start to react. This discrepancy between the timing of the healing of the body and of the mind is not uncommon, but it is necessary to be aware of it—particularly the strange things the mind can get up to—and to be aware that you may overreact, which can have a negative effect in your situation. In other words, you may read too much into what may be normal for this phase. Labeling an experience as “normal” does not mean that one can simply dismiss it, and we encourage you to find out more about the common emotional reactions that take place during this time. There are states of mind, and here we refer particularly to clinical depression, to which one needs to be alerted, and we will highlight them in this chapter and in Part Two. For the family, recuperation is an adjustment period that can proceed smoothly or not, depending on the makeup of the significant others, the patient and, of course, the circumstances. Flexibility is going to be an invaluable asset for the loving family member, but this is not always realistic or possible. This is a vulnerable time, but with medical evaluation and treatment, it will pass.

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