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!)