Beware the unexpected role reversal

Basset sleeping on couch with purple eye mask on

I can imagine what you were up to yesterday. Perhaps, if you live in the States, you were having a heated discussion over Thanksgiving dinner about your newly elected president. Or maybe you were scouring the internet planning out your Black Friday shopping. Did you know Canada now has Black Friday sales even though it’s not Thanksgiving here? I don’t get it either.

While you were out and about, I was sleeping. That’s not entirely accurate. First J. and I headed to the hospital at the crack of dawn, where I underwent my annual esophageal inspection. That’s where the sleeping comes in. Sedation is my saviour. Sometimes it’s best not to remember a thing.

After I was prepped, a nurse wheeled me into Dr. Fois Gras’s procedure room. I was first on the roster since I wanted those hands at their most steady. First Dr. F.G., who is nothing but thorough, reviewed every possible way the procedure could go wrong. My excitement about the impending sedation allowed me to tune him out. Then I confirmed he’d had time for his early-morning coffee, which would hopefully prevent any of these untoward outcomes. Finally, I went under. Everything subsequent to that is a blur, although with J.’s assistance, I arrived home stoned but in one piece.

Some people choose to have this scope without sedation. Why, I ask them, why? Why would you tolerate discomfort and anxiety if you didn’t need to? What if the doctor had needed to do a little cleaning up in there during my procedure? Would I really want to be awake? No thanks. I’d rather wake up after the work is done, sore throat and all.

I did have a prolonged discussion once with someone who chose not to undergo sedation. This woman, the Jewish chaplain, paid me an unsolicited visit a few years back when I was in hospital. This particular admission was especially stressful because my spleen was misbehaving. Doctors discussed scary interventions with me, including risky major surgery. During their investigations, they discovered my esophagus was a mess, prompting a procedure identical to yesterday’s, with bonus intervention. Wish I could tell you more but I slept right through it.

In the midst of all this scariness, the chaplain dropped by to offer her support. The chaplain is a lovely woman and it is kind of her to make time to visit me but I’d prefer she didn’t, not because I’m a bad Jew, but because her visits are exhausting. On this occasion, after hearing about my scope, she mentioned that she had undergone the same procedure just that morning without sedation. I would have praised her for her bravery but my inside voice was rudely scoffing her.

The chaplain then proceeded to share at length her current health concerns with me. I was  in considerable pain at that time (hence the hospital admission), and I wasn’t in the mood to play psychologist, but I am not a rude person so I listened patiently. By the time she left, I needed a nap. Next time she visits, if there is a next time that I’m in hospital, I may pretend to be sleeping. Better that than my impolite inside voice leak out.


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