I accompanied Janene to the endodontist on Monday to get a root canal (she tells the story here). As they prepped her for the procedure, she eagerly inquired about sedation options. They offered her a little something called Versed. I don’t know if you know anything about Versed (I didn’t until Monday), but it’s an awfully potent drug with some rather remarkable effects.
The endodontist’s assistant explained that Versed induces a conscious sedation. Janene would be awake through the entire procedure, able to follow instructions and answer questions, but she would have no memory of the whole experience. As far as she was concerned, it would feel as if she just took a little nap.
Another assistant briefed us on the up-front costs, and, rather than pay right then, Janene and I agreed it would be easier for me to make the payment at the front desk while she was having the procedure.
As they were about to administer the magical sedative, there was a moment where we were alone in the room, so I took the opportunity to initiate a little experiment. “Honey,” I said, “let’s see if you can remember the phrase ‘green elephants’ when this is all over.” She chuckled and agreed to my little game. Then, the endodontist showed up and stuck her with a big needle and I was ushered out to the waiting area so he could get to work.
After about an hour, one of the assistants came out and let me know they were finished and I could come back and see her. As I walked in, Janene was awake and alert and asked if I had remembered to pay the bill. I answered in the affirmative, and then listened intently as they explained what they had done, went over a few post-operative instructions, and gave me a couple of prescriptions for her. They had printed the post-op instructions on a sheet of paper, and the first item on the list was “Patient will be forgetful for a few hours.” Boy, would she. As they finished up the instruction, the assistant asked me to pull the car around and she would bring Janene out to meet me (one effect of the Versed is total body weakness, so Janene couldn’t really walk on her own). As I was leaving the room, Janene asked if I had remembered to pay the bill. The assistant winked at me, and so began an adventure I won’t soon forget.
Shortly after getting in the car, Janene asked me if I’d called her mom yet. Oh, that’s a good idea, I thought, so I called her mom and let her know Janene was okay and that we’d be at their house soon. The plan was to drive back to our apartment and pick up our laundry, then head over to the in-laws’ place where I could do the laundry and Janene could take a long nap. They had explained that she would be very sleepy after the procedure and would probably take the best nap in her life.
When I got off the phone with her mom, Janene started firing off other questions, and it soon became apparent that she wasn’t remembering the answers, or, for that matter, the fact that she had ever asked any of the questions in the first place. For example, she asked me several times if her purse was in the car, and inquired several additional times about whether I had called her mom. She also asked me a few times what the endodontist had said about the procedure and what I had done while I was out there waiting for the whole hour. And the one question she really wanted to know the answer to was whether or not I had paid that darn bill.
They had explained that she needed to drink a lot of fluids and provided a bottle of red Gatorade, which Janene had set in the cup holder next to her. Every few minutes, she would look down, notice the Gatorade, pick it up, study it as if it was the first time she’d ever seen it in her life—hm, I wonder if it’s strawberry or cherry; oh, strawberry, I guess I’ll try some—take a sip, and then return it to the cup holder. This never failed to crack me up each of the half a dozen times I watched her do it.
When we arrived at the apartment, she was starting to get a little sleepy, so I helped her get her seat reclined, and she asked me if I would grab her a pillow from the couch in the front room. Sure, I said, realizing that by the time I got back out to the car she would forget having ever asked for the pillow. I brought all the laundry out and grabbed the pillow. When I asked her if she wanted the pillow, sure enough, she stared at me blankly as if the very idea of it was absurd, so I tossed it in the back seat and we hit the road again.
As we were approaching the in-laws’ place, I asked Janene where we should go to fill her prescription. Now, this illustrates a bit more of the wacky effect of Versed. You see, Janene was still Janene. She had every memory up to the point the endodontist stuck her with that big needle, and she was conscious and rational, though a bit sleepy, the whole time she was under the drug’s effects. She calmly explained that she always fills her prescriptions at Smith’s and that there was a Smith’s up ahead a little past her parents’ house. As we approached the intersection, though, not even 30 seconds later, she asked me why I was going straight instead of turning left!
The funniest part of this whole story is that every time I tried to explain to Janene that she had already told me this or already asked me that question, she would very matter-of-factly reply that she remembered “green elephants”, as if there was absolutely nothing wrong with her memory and that she was perfectly fine. She probably said the phrase “green elephants” to me ten or fifteen times in the car on the way home! I could’ve died laughing.
Anyway, the sad news (which I had to explain to her about four times that morning) is that they weren’t able to finish the procedure and we may have to go through this whole adventure again in about a month. I think next time I’ll bring the camera along and try to capture some of these antics on video. Stay tuned.