In Fact It’s a Gas

“Nitrous Oxide: a dissociative hallucinogen” I read awkwardly off my phone from my head-below-the-horizontal position in the chair.

First time ever, I was offered “laughing gas” and said–what the heck: Yes!

How was it you ask? Here is one memory from out of the hours of dissociative fog.

After the assistant strapped on the mask and I started inhaling the vanilla-flavored gas, my greatest discomfort came at the two hour point in the tilted chair. It was at that moment I realized (in my fuzzy disembodied mentation) that I had miscalculated my coffee consumption at Our Daily Bread during the hour and a half prior to the DDS appointment (an earlier appt was cancelled due to illness, and I was filling both time and my bladder).

My cups per hour had been calculated on an assumed max of 90 minutes of upside-down captivity in the chair before I could get some relief from the inevitable effects of the caffeine. But then, with the nitrous, who cared? “Jumpin’ Jack Flash, it’s a gas, Jumpin’ Jack…I think I hummed out loud for my own amusement.

And yet, the sense of urgency continued and built, and even thus sedated, I could feel a rising angst. I breathed deeply from the face mask. And then at some point thereafter, I noticed: Hey! I don’t have to pee very much anymore.

“Is this a problem?” Somebody in my head asked. “Depends” I answered.

DEPENDS!?   OMG!” and I know the staff had no idea what image was going through my head that was suddenly so funny.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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