DISCLAIMER: Illicit drug use is stupid. Don’t interpret this post as promoting it.
I’ve never found one particular variety of greeting card: “To my favorite dentist….” Granted, if I did ever buy a card for my dentist, my wife would get angry because I don’t buy cards for her. Nevertheless, I think he deserves it: he gave me laughing gas so that his various efforts wouldn’t hurt. My wife doesn’t give me laughing gas, she just tells me to “grow up and do the dishes already.” Although she was the one who found my favorite dentist, so I guess she deserves something.
I needed to have some significant dental work done. I had avoided it for years, which hadn’t inspired my teeth to mend themselves no matter how many pep talks I gave them. The dentist to whom she took me promised to make the experience bearable. Then the gassing began.
Like so many elements of my life, it started with humiliation. The first thing the dentist did was try to make me look as ridiculous as possible via the application of a large rubber nose. Sure it’s ostensible purpose was to deliver gas without blocking my mouth, but I don’t think that explained its size and the fact that it was bright orange. (Maybe people wear them when they go hunting?)
The gas hadn’t addled my brain yet either, so I could tell they were all laughing. It isn’t as though my nose needs the help. It’s large even when you take into account the size of the rest of me. Adding a rubber pumpkin to my face–it even had wires and tubes to stand in for vines–was overkill, like applying a school bus instead of a bandage to a paper-cut.
It was ultimately worth it, but overkill.
As it turns out, the delivery of laughing gas is more complicated than it seems in movies. The dentist had to adjust the concentration carefully, blending the laughing gas with pure oxygen, so that he didn’t accidentally kill me. (Not that I would have minded at the time; I started feeling pretty happy about everything.) He planned on building up to a dose appropriate for a gargantuan man, but he started with a dose more suitable for a tiny little girl, one with a notoriously delicate constitution and a tendency to giggle.
That was where the dose stayed.
I’ve never used drugs. I’ve never even tried drugs. They’ve never interested me; reality is mind altering enough and legal. Unfortunately, all of that inexperience gave me the drug tolerance of one of those mythical canaries that miners supposedly use to judge the breathability of air. Apparently I can overdose on the rumor of drugs. They gave me a dose of laughing gas that probably wouldn’t affect a toddler, but I reacted as though they had used a dose more appropriate for sedating an African bull elephant.
Actually, in retrospect I can say that it felt a bit like becoming an elephant, especially with the large nose and unusual interest in my ivories. The big difference was that it felt like becoming an elephant the size of a sky scraper. I didn’t feel like my brain was working any differently, just that its demesne had significantly increased. (For historians in my audience, I gained practical experience with why vast empires tend to crumble. Had my brain died during the afternoon, its many heirs would have divided my body and formed separate feuding kingdoms.)
The dentist had been right in his description however: I still felt everything he did. My brain was in a single room of the skyscraper though, and all of the dental work happened several floors away. They could have re-enacted Die Hard in my mouth; I would never have known. Or I would have grabbed some mental popcorn and sat down to watch. (Die Hard is entertaining, after all.)
Of course, there were significant drawbacks. For example, when several of my lower floors flooded–that is to say that I realized I needed to use the restroom–I couldn’t figure out how to tell anyone.
For that story, stay tuned for part 3.