General anaesthetic

Precisely an hour ago as I write this, I was laying unconscious in a Toronto clinic undergoing a medical procedure. For the first time ever, I’d been given general anaesthetic.


The closest I’d had so far to general anaesthetic was around 7 years ago when I was given a shot of morphine to ease some pain. I was taken aback at how it only took a matter of seconds to come to life, instilling me with a magical golden glow all over and instantly relieving me of all discomfort. The full effect lasted an hour, followed by another semi-blissful hour of the comedown.

Fast-forward to today and I found myself between the siderails of a hospital bed, complete with peripheral cannula in a vein in my hand awaiting the intravenous fluid. I was wheeled into the room where I spoke briefly with the the doctor & the anaesthetist and signed the form giving my consent to release the sedative into my bloodstream.

Similarly to my morphine experience, I almost instantaneously began feeling its soothing effects. My senses narrowed within the space of 10 seconds; all external stimulants vanishing into an internalised tunnel of comatose perception. My final few words were something along the lines “Oh, this is quite relaxing” before total darkness ensued.

I didn’t see or feel a thing during the 25 minutes I was under. I wasn’t completely dead to the world, though. I don’t know whether it was my imagination or if it was an actual physical awareness, but I could hear the reassuring beep, beep, beep of the cardiac monitor. And there was one other thing. Constantly, throughout the entire 25 minute session, I had a line from the lyrics of California by Phantom Planet repeating over and over again in my mind:

California, here we come, right back where we started from
California, here we come, right back where we started from



I have no idea why my mind selected California of all songs – it is a fantastic tune but I hadn’t heard it for probably two years, and aside from my three hour stopover in LA 7 weeks ago, I have very little connection with The Golden State.

All of a sudden, my peaceful slumber came to an abrupt end. My body started shaking as if I was having a fit, and some nearby nurses reassured me that everything was ok and I was just waking up.

The first thing I said to the nurse in my groggy and generally unaware state was, “I dreamt of this amazing melody and lyrics to go with it, I need to write them down so I don’t forget!” And indeed, as soon as my possessions were handed back, I went straight to my phone notes & keyed in “California, here we come, right back where we started from,” thinking I’d had one of those almost-religious moments you hear about where a songwriter receives material for a hit song directly from God or whatever spiritual entity lies in the realms beyond us. It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered it was actually a Phantom Planet song and not a creation of my genius subconscious or assistance from divine intervention. Dammit :-/

I was fine to leave the clinic within 10 minutes of my awakening, and I’m pretty well recovered right now. It felt genuinely enlightening to experience the effects of general anaesthetic this morning – it’s another tick in the box of uncharted territory, and at least I know what to expect now if I ever need the stuff again. If you’ve never had it yourself, I’m sure you’ll love it should you get the chance.

Have you ever been under, and if so, what was your experience like? Did you sing Phantom Planet songs in your head too? Let me know about it in the comments section!

(And for the record, everything health-wise is fine!)


  1. I am the total opposite. Dan, the thought of general anaesthetic terrifies me. Not sure what it is; I don’t really think it’s the fear of not waking up……more the feeling of having absolutely no control. I can imagine being the psycho patient who has to be held down while the doctors jams the mask over my face!!!! I get very claustrophobic, and I had to have an MRI one day. The had my arms, legs chest, forehead and chin belted to the gurney and then put me into a little coffin type thing. Pure terror. Luckily Daz was there, and I kept singing one of his songs over and over! Music is comfort for every situation…….

  2. Interesting! Didn’t realise it was your first time?!?! I went under when I got my wisdom teeth out, and as the anaethesist was slwoly putting it in my arm and I was getting woosy, I rememeber saying to her “Wow this is what it feels like when you’re getting stoned . . . ” the look on her face was priceless, ha ha!
    25 mins isn’t too long, hope all went well. Shame, you could have almost had a Paul MCCartney moment, waking up with the melody to a song (his was Yesterday, that came to him in a dream one night!) I was getting excited there!

  3. Leanne it definitely sounds like you have a phobia of the general. Have you ever actually tried it before or do you just think you’ll be terrified if you go under? I reckon it’s different to trying narcotics, for example (not that I’ve ever gone too crazy with them in the past)… yes, you do lose control to some extent, but you don’t have the safety net of the professionals watching over your sedation like you do while you’re on a hospital bed. Oh yeah I remember you telling my about your MRI too. Once again we’re opposites – I’ve had a few and I LOVE them! There’s nothing more comforting than being cocooned in the grey tunnel with the trippy mechanical noises going on all around you. I don’t know if you’re the weird one for not liking them or if I’m the weird one for liking them 😛

    I remember you getting your wisdom teeth out Simone but I thought they used a local anaesthetic for your mouth only. I wonder if they put everyone completely under when they do wisdoms? I can imagine the look on her face as you drifted off comparing it with being stoned, that’s gold! I do get lyrics and sometimes melodies come to me during my sleep but most of the time they either don’t make any sense or I don’t remember then when I wake up. This time, they made sense AND I remembered them, but it turned out to be someone else’s song! I’d like to know what Paul’s secret is…

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