Propofol, Profanity, and Plasticity: Why Anesthesia is Awesome

Luckily, I have been fortunate enough in my 27 years of existence to have avoided the need for any surgical procedures; however, I’ve experienced being put to sleep twice. If you’ve never had anesthesia before, I will be the first to tell you that entering a state of sleep that borders death isn’t half bad. Honestly.

I will begin by describing my most recent procedure: an upper GI endoscopy. I’ve heard horror stories about the chemically induced confusion for colonoscopies and endoscopies by using the drug Versed (midazolam). I know that with the use of this particularly potent benzodiazepine, it (1) Makes you not give a crap and (2) It has an amnesiac effect, so you forget everything that happened to you while it’s in your system. Now, here is my beef with this practice: You still get a tube shoved down your throat (or if you are over the age of 50 and every 10 years thereafter, via rectumus inserticus) WHILE YOU ARE AWAKE… yet only SOMEWHAT conscious. However, you DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING. Voodoo, I say.

My gastroenterologist, a very tall, young and handsome Brazillian man whose name I can’t spell or pronounce, informs me after a recent stint of chronic stomach pain, they want to examine my innards. I immediately informed him that I was onto his mind games, and I shall not be duped by their Versed trickery. This is when he informed me, in his gorgeous accent, “No, Mees But-lerr, ac-tulee, we arre go-ing to uce the pro-puh-full.” Swoon.

That day, D&D/DDs (Denise & Dane/Designated Drivers) drove me to the appointment. They took me in the back room to get me ready for the procedure. It was decided that it should be Denise, not Dane, who accompanied me… just in case I decided to strip down naked and jump up and down on the bed post-anesthesia. We were pretty sure Dane wouldn’t know how to handle it.

I prepped for the procedure, putting on the usual unflattering garb. They refused to let me keep my pants on, which I protested and caused me to question their motives. “That tube is only destined for my mouth, right?”

They introduced me to the nurse anesthetist and Dr. Brazil came in and spoke to me in his soothing voice as they wheeled me away… Mom gave me the “Denise smile”, the one where she looks at me adoringly, but uncomfortable. She knew what was coming next…

Last thing I remember was seeing the milky juice being injected into my veins… and counting down from 10… 9… 8… Just 8.

After the procedure, I woke up in recovery. I had on clothes. I felt like a zombie. Denise was still smiling, and Dane was sitting on go. He shuttled me out of the building as soon as possible. I slept. They’d tell me how I’d embarrassed them later via telephone.

Mom: “You were quite the comedian today, young lady.”

Me: “Oh yeah? Did Daddy turn red?”

Mom: “Yes, but he missed most of it. Luckily he wasn’t there when you told the anesthetist he was hot.”

Me: “But he wasn’t.”

Mom: “You didn’t care…”

Me: “Oh.”

Mom: “There’s more… you asked the doctor if your esophagus was ‘beautiful’.”

Me: “Oh, bless his heart.”

Mom: “He didn’t really know what to say, he just said everything looked fine. You corrected him: ‘beautiful.’ I think they were even more uncomfortable when you told the entire recovery room about your LAST experience of being put to sleep.”

Me: “Uh oh…”

 Image

 

There is a good reason why the propofol structure looks like a little man going “YAY!”

 

(FLASH BACK TO 2009…)

My wisdom teeth were coming in more crooked than young Forrest Gump’s back so during my month off after my first year of Pharmacy school, I decided to be proactive and get them taken out. What a stupid idea. The highlight of this experience, by far, was my reception of controlled substances.

Versed pre-induction. A short-acting barbiturate. Sleep. Pure bliss.

I “woke up” 8 hours later, but OFFICIALLY I had awaken in recovery. I woke up from my mild coma and screamed. My Dad thought they had killed me. Luckily, it was just “Versed Tears” (Google it.) 

On the way out, I told the anesthesiologist he was “the man” (it’s apparent that I appreciate their art) and cursed through the waiting room, at the reception desk, and the entire way to the car. They tried to help me into the front seat of my parents’ Avalon and I swore some more. I told them their car was ugly. My Dad reprimanded me, in true Dane-like fashion. I was oblivious. We headed home.

The true pearl is coming… the whole reason for me telling this tale of drugs and defiance… 

For those of you who don’t know my Dad, he is a 65-year-old former school principal. He’s a good man, worked hard his entire life, and has very little patience for my silliness. Stern, serious, all-business. He’s a forced to be reckoned with, and possesses a limited sense of humor. He is Dane.

According to Denise’s recall of events, I was very talkative on the ride home. Mom said it was difficult to understand some of it, as I had about 5 wads of gauze shoved in both sides of my mouth, but continued to talk without cessation. I was bleeding. I was drugged. I was awake. But I was still sleeping. And TALKING.

We weren’t far from home, and I paused… interrupting my own sentence. I turned my head to my father, who was cruising at 55mph, at 10 and 2, concentrating on getting his extremely chemically altered daughter back home safely. I am sure he was growing more and more uncomfortable by the mile. Mother said I turned and looked at him with glazed over eyes, gauze in mouth, and raised both hands to my chest. I cupped my hands and pressed them against myself, then proceeded to ask, “Daddy? Do my boobs look bigger?”

Mama said at that point she saw a look come across his face that she speculates has happened only once in their 30+ years of marriage, complete with raised eyebrows and widened eyes, a look of confusion, horror and genuine hilarity. 

She laughed hysterically, “WRONG SURGERY, BROOKE!”

I became solemn at this point, stared at my lap, and entered complete silence. I’m sure my parents were relieved, but I almost feel sorry for myself in that moment… I can’t imagine the disappointment I must have felt… because I sure as heck don’t remember it. 

2 thoughts on “Propofol, Profanity, and Plasticity: Why Anesthesia is Awesome

  1. That;’s a funny recollection of anesthesia, Brooke.. I’ve been put under more times than I care to remember (or can remember). After one of my shoulder operations, I came to in the recovery room and remember complaining to the nurse, “I have a tube down my throat.” so she removed it. Another time when they were putting me under in the ER in order to pull back in place a dislocated shoulder, a friend who had accompanied me told me later that I said something about “a car with no wheels.” I wonder what that was all about. But, goofy comments beat pain. Thank goodness we don’t live in the time when all they gave you was a shot of whisky and a piece of leather to bite down on.

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