I had all four of my wisdom teeth out yesterday. Not an experience I was looking forward to, as you can well imagine, however for me the scariest part was not the knives, cracking teeth or the pain. None of that sounded fun, but what I was very scared of was going under general anesthesia. Perhaps it is my attachment to being in control, or just the fear that they could do something slightly wrong and I would never wake up.
Whatever the case, it was not so bad and I have to say, nice to not be aware of any of that other not-so-pleasant stuff! The anesthesia they used was intravenous, which apparently is less of a deep sleep than the stuff they give you through the mask at the hospital, but I wouldn't know! They did also give me a local in the mouth to keep the pain down so it wouldn't wake me up. The strangest part was that after the surgery I was apparently at least sort of awake, talking to Wayne and the nurses, walking to the car, getting driven home, and I don't remember any of it! The first thing I really remember is standing in the kitchen pulling the nasty gauze out of my mouth...
The medical industry is pretty incredible. A few hundred years ago, people died of abscessed wisdom teeth or had them pulled with rustic tools and nothing but whiskey as an anesthetic. Today I go in for a 15 minute painless operation where they have calculated the amount and kind of anesthesia just right so I am aware of nothing but wake up almost instantly when it is over and am functional within hours. I am thoroughly taken care of by pain meds afterwards (I took one Vicadin yesterday but since then Ibuprofen has been doing the trick just fine) and am working the next day and will hopefully be doing aikido again in less than a week.
And this is only one very minor example of what medicine can do. Crazy and very very cool.