Friday, August 31, 2007

The Ministry of the Interior

Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I experienced full anasthesia. For a mystery lover, this is a most mysterious thing, and a suspicious one. It left me in a state of disbelief. I watched carefully as the nurse put on my blood pressure cuff, my IV, and various other monitors. Then she said that she'd wait for a signal from the doctor, at which point she'd "get me sleepy."

So eventually she came in and clipped something to my IV and said I should lie on my side, which I did. There was a mouth piece waiting there, the kind of thing you put in a horse or something when you're giving it a dental exam.

In my case, it was for this:An endoscopy! In this procedure, a camera on the end of a long tubey thing is snaked down the throat, through the esophagus, and into the stomach, recording the journey forever in particularly gross snapshots.

I was dreading having to swallow the camera--what if I somehow projectile vomited all over the room?--but as it turned out, I wasn't present for that part--at least not in my conscious mind. But here's the mystery: I THOUGHT I was awake the entire time. I thought I was still lying there, waiting for someone to come in, when a nurse arrived.

"How are you?" she asked.


"You can start getting ready to go, if you wish." I stared at her. I'd like to think my eyes were bulging with indignant anger, but I think they were barely open.


"You're finished."

"But they haven't done it yet!"

She smiled at me--that pitying smile that medical people have for their poor deluded patients. "Don't you remember me?"


"Do you see that you're in a different room?"

I glanced around, ready to prove her wrong, but I was, in fact, in an entirely different room. The recovery room. Ah.

Being a suspicious person by nature, I was still toying with the notion that they had not done the procedure at all, but some elaborate con to save money, some medical version of THE STING. If so, though, they'd paid a lot of people to be in on it, and some of them didn't seem like good enough actors to pull it off.

Reluctantly I stripped off the horrible useless gown and put my own clothes back on, tottering on my feet, feeling resentful that they were making me leave while I was still tired.

I remained grouchy in the car, while my husband and children actually laughed at me, and then I came home and slept for three hours. I woke to attend lunch, and then I slept for a couple more hours, and after I type this I shall go gratefully off to bed.

I can't remember that mythological drink that brings forgetfulness--was it Nepenthe?--but today I do feel some of the mythological mystery of those enchanted fluids. I have been anasthetized, and I shall have to take their word for what happened in the interim.



Eric Mayer said...

Weird. When I was a kid the dentist knocked me out a few times to extract teeth, since then I have thankfully avoided full anesthesia...and endoscopies. I hope I don't need an endoscopy. With any luck I've had one and just forgotten!

Julia Buckley said...

I doubt you would need one unless, like me, you are a worrier, and it makes your stomach make too much acid.

Luckily I was told that everything looks good in there. Isn't it amazing that we're in an age when people can look inside your stomach and tell you about its interior?

Eric Mayer said...

Good news on the exam.

Unfortunately I'm a worrier and now I'm worried I might be producing too much acid...

Julia Buckley said...

Haha. There are acid preventers you can take so that you worrying doesn't give you stomach aches. I am on a strict Prevacid protocol for the next month. After that I'll have to try Transcendental Meditation. :)

If I wanted to stop worrying, I shouldn't have had children, but to paraphrase Sylvia Plath, there's no getting off that bus. :)

Peter said...

As an adult, you could be more articulate about an experience that many of us shared, with equal wonder, when we were children. I still remember waking up in the recovery room after ear surgery at age 8, my throat hurting like hell, and wondering when the heck the operation was going to start.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Julia Buckley said...

Ooh, and ear surgery! That's so delicate. I never had earaches as a child, but I've had them, oddly enough, as a grown person, and they're quite horrible.