THIS FAT OLD LADY’S TBT – ME AND ETHER

When I was a kid and you had to have surgery, they knocked you out with ether.

Ether is some nasty shit.

My first experience was when I had to have some baby teeth surgically removed when I was about 6 years old.

I remember them putting some kind of mask over my face and them telling me to count backwards.

I felt like I was suffocating and I was terrified.

And I had this bizarre dream.

There was a huge comma – you know the punctuation mark.

And there was this weird twanging sound.

And on each twang the comma got a little bit smaller.

Until the very end, and the (now very tiny) comma said, “I can’t get any smaller.”

And a voice said, “Oh yeah?”

And there was one more twang.

And I woke up.

Nauseous.

Oh god, I was so nauseous.

For a week, I was nauseous.

Next up – I was 12 and had to have my tonsils out.

The mask again.

The terror again.

Of course, my throat hurt so bad, I couldn’t tell you if I was nauseous too.

And after that, no more.

No more because (A) I don’t think they use ether anymore; and

No more because (B) as a grown up, I don’t do that shit anymore.

If at all possible, I opt for a spinal block.

(Note to singers – there is a (slight) danger with intubating for general anesthesia to damage vocal cords; but of course spinal blocks have their own (slight) dangers if things go wrong.)

And when a spinal is not an option, I let them know before surgery –

If I am still awake,

DO NOT PUT A MASK ON MY FACE!

When they did my gallbladder surgery, they started to put a mask on my face and I said (in the operating room and very loudly).

I AM STILL AWAKE.

And they backed off until I was truly under.

(Even strapped to a gurney, my don’t f*ck with me voice is effective!)

I know the technology is way better; but I don’t care.

When you terrify a 6-year-old child, that’s the kind of terror that sticks with you.

So if your surgical history does not date back to the days of ether – be grateful.

I repeat – that shit is nasty.

ether

One thought on “THIS FAT OLD LADY’S TBT – ME AND ETHER

  1. They put me under with ether in 1973 when I had my tonsils out at 8 years old. Even though modern general anesthesia is much safer and less traumatizing, I still have panic attacks as an aftereffect. I do much better with deep sedation where you maintain your own airway. I’ve been under deep sedation a few times for medical procedures. I’ve never had any bad aftereffects from it.

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