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.
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.