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February 23, 2021

Hallucinations and Other Post-Op Party Skills

Image: MissMessie (Flickr)
Give me good drugs, and I’ll fantasize about doughnuts. Image: Flickr, MissMessie

He stood before me and gingerly cradled the box. Unwilling to believe my good fortune, I hesitantly walked toward him and tried to peek at the precious items he held with his muscular arms. Those arms, which were made strong by his years at the rock quarry, promised me a beautiful escape.

He walked to me and leaned into my ear. “Yabba Dabba Do,” he whispered as he handed me the box that would bring me such pleasure. Our eyes met, and my heart fluttered. Alas, who knew the heights of ecstasy that could be experienced by consuming a box of chocolate doughnuts under his smoldering stare?

Yes, chocolate doughnuts. With Fred Flintstone. This is where my mind goes when I’m under the influence of narcotics.

Welcome to my post-anesthesia fantasy world, a place where Hanna-Barbera characters seduce me with baked goods, and doctors and nurses find their fair share of entertainment and adventure.

My pharmaceutical escapes have not always been as pleasant as the Bedrock bakery bliss I experienced during my daughter’s birth or the Andrew Lloyd Webber showtunes extravaganza I performed while in labor with my son. Some of my anesthesia/pain relief experiences have been rather frightening, and although I am not a connoisseur of narcotics, I have since learned that many of the meds are not my friends.

For example:

  • Slice and Dice: I had a full-blown panic attack after being knocked out for an endoscopy. (Doctors ran a camera through my upper GI track.) I could not fully wake up, and I was convinced the deranged puppet from “Saw” was going to make me slice open my intestines. I later learned I kept a death grip on one of the recovery room nurses.
  • Kicking Hubby to the Curb: Another surgery led to me yelling “Help me Mommy” on a seemingly endless loop. Again, I could not fully wake up, and the post-op pain was hitting hard. My husband, who came into the recovery room in the middle of my outburst, seemed a bit offended I was not crying for him.
  • Bedbugs in the IV: I could see them crawling through the tube. They were rushing from the pain pump through my IV line and into my body. Thousands of bedbugs were biting me, and I scratched and swatted myself in a futile attempt to stop them. Somehow my hands found the nurse call button, and I begged the nurse to send pest control into my room. She asked why, and I cried, “The bedbugs! The bedbugs are eating me!”In the end, pesticides weren’t necessary, but a good dose of antihistamine and removal of the morphine pump solved the problem.
  • The Nutcracker Fairy Murders: It was a mistake to have my wisdom tooth extracted without anesthesia, but I was a graduate student with a painful jaw and no dental insurance. I chose the only option I could afford – extraction with Novocain and laughing gas. I don’t recall being in pain, but I remember the sound of bones cracking and the taste of blood on my tongue.The gas must have been on high because I saw my dentist grab a huge metal nutcracker and place my skull inside the ridges. There was some squeezing and pulling, and then he grabbed a pair of Craftsman pliers from his pocket to pull the embedded molar from my jaw. He shook two tiny pixies from the tooth’s roots, and I watched them hit the wall. In an odd mix of horror and amusement, I calmly accepted my dentist murdering the Tooth Fairy’s children.This explains why today’s Tooth Fairy often forgets to visit my kids.


Thankfully, I did not have the same response to my most recent surgery. I woke up and experienced a Zen-like calmness as I looked around the room. I started waving to the other patients, and although I got a little annoyed by their refusal to wave back, I remained quiet. I asked for a frozen margarita to soothe my sore throat, but the nurse brought me ice chips instead. Again, I was peaceful. As a matter of fact, I actually started loving people with the heart-swelling kind of love that comes only from being engulfed by a litter of happy little Golden Retriever puppies. I loved everyone, and I felt good.

Until my body remembered it had been cut open and parts were removed.

I then demanded the morphine with the bedbugs.

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