In Praise Of Drugs

It is all too easy, especially here in France where we are surrounded by thousands of years of history, to dream about how life must have been so much better in the past. The piled stone walls of my village have been known to make me hearken back to a time when days were all about collecting eggs and tending to your vines while the evenings were spent in joyous bonhomie with fellow villagers gathering together around a humongous stone fireplace.

Yesterday made me recant such hogwash.

As many readers know, yesterday for me was spent in Dijon having all manner of unpleasant exploratory GI exams performed. Several times during the course of the day I was forced to recognize how lucky I am to be living in the 21st Century. The one main reason for this; the drugs.

In France, even as recently as a generation ago, drugs were used sparingly or not at all during medical procedures. My father-in-law André who grew up in Beaune had his tonsils removed on the kitchen table without so much as a whiff of ether. The only thing the doctor brought to make the procedure easier were straps to tie his patient down.

Yesterday was a vivid illustration of just how far things have evolved. Shortly after checking into the clinic I was presented with two rosy Xanax pills to calm my nerves. This is standard procedure apparently, as the lady sharing my room got the same pre-op cocktail.

Even though I resist the temptation (and let me tell you, some days it is mighty powerful) to resort to anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals on a regular basis, they were heartily welcome yesterday.

And then there’s the miracle of general anesthetic. Shortly after I was rolled into the OR in a pleasant Xanax haze they inserted a little needle in my hand and the anesthetist said, “OK, things are going to start to look blurry soon, then it will be time for un petit do-do (a little nap).”

Nothing looks blurry yet, I remember thinking. Maybe it’s not wor………

Lovely black oblivion.

I woke up in Recovery having a dream about Camille and her favorite pony Abricot from the local pony club, feeling a bit spacey but remarkably refreshed.

Now that’s progress.

Now every time I start to get nostalgic for a simpler time, I will remind myself that back then there were no general anesthetics and no Xanax. Even if I was having my leg amputated a hundred years ago all I would have got was some eau de vie poured down my gullet and if I was lucky a scrap of leather to bite on. Call me a wimp if you will, but no number of joyous evenings gathered around the fireplace could make up for that.