I can cut off your head with a local anesthetic.

The statement came from my oral surgeon as we were discussing options for my next procedure which is taking place this morning.  Back in March, I discovered a cyst in my jaw which, while benign in the most meaningful sense, had completely destroyed the bone in the upper left quadrant of my mouth, resultingd in the removal of a few teeth, insertion of a titanium tray, and the addition of some screws for good measure.  That was Phase I.  Phase II of IV involves removing all the hardware in my jaw and sewing me back up.

The first surgery was complex enough for me to be in the hospital.  This next one sounds easier  and will be done in my doctor’s office.  I had a choice about whether I wanted to go to sleep or remain awake, but numb, while my doc does his thing.

Doc was explaining to me that surgeons can do just about anything to anyone under local anesthesia without pain to the patient.  In his words:

Local is for HERE. (He pointed to my jaw.)  General is for HERE. (He pointed to my forehead, which I took to mean my worried mind.) 

And then he told me he could cut off my head while I was awake and it wouldn’t hurt.  I really like my Doc.

Still, the choice was mine.  Maybe it was the Anne Boleyn visual or perhaps it was tone he used in presenting me my choices (Sure I COULD just numb you up.) but something screamed to me to waive my right to choose and ask THE question I often put to doctors when faced with options:

If I were your daughter, what would you tell me to do?

In my experience, this question has a success rate of 100%.  He replied quickly:

I would tell her to go to sleep.

And then he added:

The procedure could be a little traumatic so this way you just go to sleep and when you wake up – it’s done!

Thank you.  It really was the answer I was seeking.  Conventional wisdom discourages “the General” (that’s what the cool kids I call it) if you can avoid it.  Despite what my doc says, you don’t just wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.  I typically wake up severely nauseous and not myself for days.  But I was scared about Phase II.  Extreme Fear trumps Extreme Barf.  So Doc gave me a valid excuse not to be Wonder Woman and in doing so, eliminated some, but not all anxiety.

It’s probably a good thing that the General leaves me feeling violently ill – and can only be enjoyed in the company of a licensed anesthesiologist.  Otherwise, other uses of it would be more tempting.  Imagine, if you will, the ability to go to sleep – and when you wake up – it’s done!  Whatever IT happens to be.  A safer, gentler recreational form of the General could be applied to a wide range of challenging scenarios:

  • Letting your bangs grow out
  • The 7th grade
  • Drying your nails
  • Every t-ball game after your child’s first one
  • Bikini waxing
  • The last mile of your 10 5 3 2 mile run
  • Potty training
  • Taking the dog out in the rain
  • Any time spent at a Chuck E Cheese
  • Time spent at the DMV

Michael Jackson references aside, the possibilities are numerous. I’ll be thinking of more as I make my way this morning to the doctor’s office to meet the General.  It will a welcome distraction and calm my nerves.

No sense losing my head over this, don’t you agree?

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