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Laughing Gas/Nitrous Oxide

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images-1.jpgFor some reason, at dinner last night, Jane and I were discussing dental procedures, and the subject of nitrous oxide came up. Jane has never used it during a procedure. I, on the other hand, use it every time I go to the dentist, even when I’m just having my teeth cleaned. The primary reason I get it is because I HATE going to the dentist (for any reason), and I get very anxious. Getting the nitrous is sort of a reward AND it really does calm me down during the procedure. Basically, it prevents me from jumping out of the chair as soon as I see a sharp instrument headed toward my mouth!!

I wish that insurance covered the cost of using it (usually $35-$50), but it doesn’t. I don’t care; it’s worth it to me to pay for it out of my own pocket.

It’s very hard to describe the effects if you’ve never had it. And I’m sure different people have different experiences with it, but there are some things that have been common in my experiences of it since I first used it as a teenager. I thought I’d describe some.

First, as I’m going under, I feel all of my tense muscles go totally limp. I wonder if someone observing me would see a difference or not, but I know I experience a real, felt “collapse” of muscles into total relaxation. Then, a tingling sort of sensation starts in my face. It’s not unpleasant, not like a tingling that needs scratching, but one that feels like a state between waking and dreaming.

Then usually, there is some sort of spiraling of thoughts and sound (I usually have my eyes closed for maximum enjoyment, so I’m not really sure what happens visually at this point.), and the spiraling gets faster and faster, but it’s not a scary faster, it just feels like it’s more about “depth” than “speed,” if that makes any sense. I’m betting that this is the point where my brain is fully under the effects of it, the remainder of the experience is just maintenance of that effect.

The most interesting things that I’ve observed are that there are two totally-conflicting ideas occuring at the same time. The first is that all things are equal. I feel just as much emotion about people I can recall as I do about the dental instruments which I know are nearby. Even sounds all come to the foreground and are of equal value. The muzak which usually goes unnoticed and the sound of passing cars outside the office become as important as the dentist talking to his assistant. All sounds are equally foreground and equally flat…but not in a cacophonous way, just in how I process the sounds and emotions.

The second thing is that, while all things are of equal value, they are also of NO value. It’s like I’m the only thing in the world that is actually real. It’s like everything in my existence is only there because I’m thinking about it and NOT because it exists in a reality outside of me. (Of course, this actually is a stripped down version of existentialism, but under nitrous, that philosophy is much funnier and easier to wrap my brain around. 🙂 It’s very hard to explain this feeling. It’s not one of arrogance wherein I am all that is. It’s more like the veil has been lifted, and I discover that all that I’ve thought was real in/about my life is not real at all. What’s interesting is that this revelation provokes no emotion in me…. only a “hmmm” detached kind of response.

It’s almost like that no matter what you experience under the gas, the only response possible is one of a non-emotional pleasantness.

So… what about y’all? Do you use nitrous oxide? Do you enjoy it? Do any of my experiences ring true with you? What are your experiences like?

Written by blogicalinks

December 22, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Sharing, Whatever

5 Responses

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  1. I have to say, I’ve never had a need for it. Though, after reading your description, I might have to give it a try!

    For better or worse, I don’t have a fear of going to the dentist, except for the whole cavity thing. But the routine cleaning stuff doesn’t bother me. I just wish someone would figure out a way to communicate back to the hygienist – she’s talking and talking an asking questions, and all I can do is nod slightly.


    December 22, 2007 at 4:06 pm

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever had that choice. Even for my root canal recently they didn’t give me the choice. I had shots to numb me up and that was it. This sounds so much better.


    December 22, 2007 at 6:48 pm

  3. I’ve never had it, but it sounds fun now. LOL! What do you feel like when it wears off?


    December 23, 2007 at 11:56 am

  4. Laughing gas one and it was a GAS!
    (Ha! I crack myself up! :-D)
    The drugs I got for surgery were really good too.

    Ru's mom

    December 27, 2007 at 8:35 am

  5. Maybe I should start requesting that also! I’ve never had that. When I was in college I had 3 wisdom teeth pulled using just novocaine. The option to be put to sleep was too expensive so I just choose the cheapest option!


    December 29, 2007 at 11:14 am

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