Monday, February 02, 2009

Why a general anaesthetic can give you the hee-bee-gee-bees

So. Where was I? How long was I asleep for? It seems like an age since I sat here typing in this blogger box. And it is. Anyone would think I had died.

Well I didn't. But I am a bit sore, if you're asking, and I know, imaginary reader, that you're not. You come here to find the answers to some of the most important questions of the day and were frankly disappointed that I didn't have anything to say about Prince Ginger and his naughty talk - but hey, Royals making a fool of themselves, they're like buses going down Oxford Road, there'll be another one along in a minute.

My feeling on the matter - seeing as how you didn't ask - is that the mistake is expecting them to act like normal folk. Either chop off their heads, or bow down and obey them unquestioningly. That's your basic choice, I'd say.

Otherwise why not just have excellent robotic royals. That'd bring the crowds in. Look at those tourists queuing outside Madame Tussauds to see some unconvincing waxworks. Imagine the the queues if there was a fantastic up-to-date Terminator style android Prince Harry. That'd bring the crowds in. And we could send him off to fight wars without having to worry about the threat of death or casual racism. Job done. Next...

But I'm wittering like someone who is under the influence of very strong painkillers.

Where was I (part 2)? Yes. Operations where they put you to sleep. I've just had one and luckily my age old fear - not from dying on the operating table - but that they get me confused with the bloke that's having the sex change - didn't happen. Imagine waking up to that:
"Hello Mary Sullivan, I'm glad to tell you that the operation was successful, we didn't have a great deal of material to play with, but we did what we could, and we have made it into quite a convincing va-"
"-Sorry? Can I just stop you there? Did you just call me, Mary?"
"Yes, isn't that how you wanted to be referred to after you'd had your willy chopped off?"
"Ummm. Errr. I wasn't planning..."
"And we'll have you back in in 2 weeks to have your breasts fitted."
"Hang on. You've chopped off my winkle, and now you're telling me you're gonna to fit me with bosoms?"
"Yes. Is there a problem?"
"Oh well. I wasn't so happy about the first part, but I get breasts, so... Swings and roundabouts I suppose."
Anyway, that didn't happen. That was the first thing I checked. Although I am booked in to have my boobs fitted in 2 weeks. Okay, I'm lying.

The point is: it's a little bit scary isn't it when they send you under. Well to be honest I wasn't that scared cos I hadn't eaten or slept much for the previous 18 hours so I just wanted to get on with it, but in the days leading up to it you do start doing a bit of *what if* thinking. And obviously the worst thing you can do is watch Paul Newman's Oscar nominated performance in The Verdict [YouTube here of a lovely Mr Newman speech from the film]. The moral of that film is - make sure you tell em when you last had something to eat. Or things can get a bit grim...

My memories of general anaesthetics go back to when I was a kiddywink in the dark ages when they used to give you "the gas" when you were having a tooth out. The mask came down over your face - you blacked out - and then you woke up crying and muttering jibberish - while your mum led you out and took you out to the bus stop. Where you'd still be crying and jibbering and probably hoping no one from school saw you - if your brain was capable of complex thoughts like 'hope'.

I've had a few operations this year for my on-going (non-life threatening) *issue* and usually the anaesthetic bit is fairly mundane. They wheel you in, ask you when you were born, what your name is - like they've forgotten - like you haven't just told them 30 seconds previously - but given my fears of becoming something like Mary - I don't mind. Then they get you to count backwards from 20. And you can never get past 14. The ice cold brain freeze juice comes flowing up from your wrist - and you're gone...

Except this time it was a little different. For a start they had lots of learners in. So there were about 6 women checking my bits (but not my bobs) and all asking me questions at the same time. And my chief anaesthetic doctor lady was very beautiful. I was a bit... whooo... she looked a bit like Kate Middleton only 6 foot tall and she had a slightly blurred face. Well, perhaps not, but I wasn't wearing contact lenses or glasses so everyone looked a bit Monet-esque. Beautiful & blurred. It was a bit like being in a James Bond film, I couldn't help thinking - these 6 blurred beauties doing all sorts of weird things to me - lulling me into a sense of false security with their laughter and questions - before they delivered me to the evil Doctor - and then I'd wake up 30 minutes later all battered, bruised and bloody in some dark dingy room having no idea what had happened and where I was. It was a bit like that.

Except they never did the counting thing. They'd decided to up the ante. It was like the anaesthetic conversation for Mensa members or QI viewers:

Nurse lady: "I know a baby deer is called a fawn, and a baby eagle is an eaglet, but what are baby rabbits called?"
Me: "Errrmmm... bunnies?"
Nurse lady: "Hmmm. Do you think?"
Anaesthetic doctor lady: "I love the fact that a group of zebras is called a crossing or a dazzle. And it's a congregation of alligators. A skulk of foxes."
Me: "Ermmm. Nice."
Nurse lady: "A confusion of guinea fowl."
Anaesthetic doctor lady: "A parliament of owls."


That's me checking out. Waking up in a daze. But thankfully the nurse was calling me Mark not Mary, and she wasn't testing my knowledge of animal collective nouns.

They are nice though those sily collective nouns:
  • A trembling of finches
  • An unkindness of ravens
  • A yoke of oxen
There's a list of em here - but my question is - to anyone who might be undergoing surgery any time soon, did they know I was bored with the counting thing - or is this QI style cleverness standard practice now? I think we should be told...


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  2. I think it is done to take your mind off the obvious.......... whatever that is :)

  3. Last time I had an anaesthetic, which was a) here and b) sometime last year (I think?), I got "would you like to hold my hand?" (yes!!!) and "it's ok, nothing to worry about, we're just going to count down now..."

    So: act like a big baby. No complicated questions. It all sounds like a big hallucinatory dream anyway.