XTRACTiON: On αἴσθησις & otherwise weird-ass feelings in this life [and B-Yond]

Yesterday, Thursday, March 5th, 2015, I got all four of my wisdom teeth removed. I had never gone under anesthesia before and was more worried about this then the actual procedure. The thought of losing control and having strangers inside your mouth... What if I woke up during it? What if I never woke up at all?


It was a snowy morning and my wife drove to the Jefferson University Medical Center parking lot in downtown Philadelphia. There were closer places to park in relation to the oral surgery center but you could get a discount rate with validation. It turns out it still cost $25. Not much of a discount if you ask me.

I have an issue with swallowing when I get nervous, that is I feel like I can't swallow when I get nervous. Needless to say, I like to have a liquid source close by whenever I leave the house. So not being able to eat or drink anything in the eight hours before the procedure was a real bummer. But I got through all the sticky torso monitors, the uncomfortable blood pressure taker and the IV insertion without swallowing my tongue. And so all that was left was the moment when I went under...

The resident who I believe did the procedure^ alerted me that they would be giving me the "medicine" and asked if I liked to drink. He asked me if I liked beer and I said yes and then he said something about how his wife liked to drink all sorts of alcoholic beverages and I remember thinking that was sort of an odd aside and that is the last thing I remember thinking or hearing or seeing or feeling before escaping into some dark, unconscious abyss of the mind. It was effortless and so fucking quick. In my head, I imagined myself fighting the drugs and that the whole 'going under' process would be a difficult one. I'm 33 and over the last two decades of relatively great health––insomuch as avoiding surgery constitutes good health––I've pondered and occasionally dwelled on the topic of anesthesia. Well, there's another life experience I can now file under remarkably unremarkable.

Coming out of the slumber was definitely weird as hell, but not at all as traumatizing as I thought that would be either. There were moments when I was awake, or in a quasi-awake state of waking, where I remember a few folks working on my mouth. I believe they were just finishing up, putting in gauze, etc. It was totally surreal but I felt completely calm and at ease. I remember thinking, "Just go with it, dude." It did feel like drugs, but not trippy drugs. It felt like good drugs.

I took a few selfies after having a conversation with the resident^ and sent them to my wife. I told her she could come back and see me, though I'm not sure if they told me this was OK or not. Anyway, she did and we hung out for 5-25 minutes in the procedure room. I discovered that my entire chin and lower lip were completely numb. Another dude came in and removed all the wires and tubes. The IV came out smooth as shit. They run at a tight ship at Jefferson, 5 stars on Yelp.

My wife^ left me to go get the car and a kind older lady wheeled me out of the room on a wheelchair. She waited with me down in the lobby by the front entrance but we didn't make much conversation. I regret not attempting to talk to her as she seemed nice and maybe this is like an example of a part of life I'm missing out on? At one point she grabbed a magazine halfheartedly and I looked at my phone in a similar fashion. When our car pulled up I told her she didn't have to wheel me outside because it was snowing and she seemed way too appreciative of that gesture and we said a fond farewell.

At home, it was all about chilling on oxycodone and binge-watching the first five episodes of Better Call Saul. I was then going to watch The Godfather, Part II but the torrent I downloaded didn't have embedded subtitles and the whole beginning part of the movie takes place in Italy. So I surfed the net and stumbled upon this kooky thing that went viral in May of '14. The Fermi Paradox, in a Wikipedia nutshell, is "the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations." It felt good to ponder the fact that "there are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world" on the same day that intelligent lifeforms removed four teeth from my mouth. I can't explain why. I'm a Milestones Man, at heart. I look at major life events as a signal to change or at least give it the old college try, and even though it wasn't deep and I have zero recollection, I view the αἴσθησις γνῶσις (MY Greek for the anesthesia experience) as even bigger than, oh I don't know, graduating from Police Academy or an otherwise significant Applebee's-worthy life celebration, because it involved crossing over to the other side. This coupled with my other reading material from last night left me feeling sort of immortal.

But I am not invincible. I'm just a guy with four bloody holes in his mouth. And I'm coming for you, worlds.

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