Unless you live under a rock or are my father (sorry, Dad), you already know that propofol is the powerful intravenous sedative that killed Michael Jackson, the self-proclaimed King of Pop, back in 2009.
Propofol is NOT an at-home, do-it-yourself sedative like Ambien or Lunesta. It must be administered by a trained anaesthesiologist. Why? If you are given too much, you can stop breathing and/or your heart can stop beating, and you can die! That’s what happened to Michael Jackson. And that is why an anaesthesiologist needs to be there to administer the drug and monitor your breathing and other vital signs to make sure you don’t join Michael Jackson in the big Neverland Ranch in the sky.
Propofol is frequently referred to as “Milk of Amnesia” due to its resemblance to the milky “Milk of Magnesia,” an antacid and laxative, and because of its amnesia-inducing qualities: While you’re knocked out on this stuff, you have no clue what’s going on, nor will you remember anything afterwards.
If propofol were a person, it would be named Chuck Norris. It does not play around!
Recently, I underwent a minor surgical procedure for which I needed to be rendered completely unconscious. It was a cold day, and I was wearing nothing but a thin cotton hospital gown and socks. Then a nurse handed me a folded, pre-warmed blanket, and it felt wonderful! I sat on the edge of my bed and waited for visits from various members of my surgical staff: The prep nurse to hook up my IV, the anaesthesiologist and his nurse, etc. Later, I was given another pre-heated blanket. I was in heaven!
When I was wheeled into the operating room, I could hear a Beatles song playing in the background.
“Someone likes the Beatles,” I said, referring to my doctor. I assumed that since this was his show, he had chosen the musical entertainment.
“Do you like the Beatles,” someone asked me.
“Yeah. They’re okay,” I said.
I don’t remember which song was playing, and I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a Beatles fan, but I grew up listening to the Beatles and Paul McCartney & Wings record albums my uncles had left at my grandmother’s house after they’d moved out. Hearing the Beatles crooning in the background was… well… comforting. This is pretty cool, I thought.
They placed an oxygen feed in my nostrils, did the rest of their pre-operative prep, and I was ready to go. The anaesthesiologist’s nurse told me, “We’re going to administer the anaesthesia now. You might feel a brief stinging sensation.”
Here I go, I thought. I hadn’t been put under general anaesthesia since I was a child, so I was a bit apprehensive about this since it had been so long. I never felt a sting, but I did feel a strange metallic sensation spread throughout my body.
After I woke up, and once I realized that it was over, my first thought was, That was freakin’ AWESOME! I remembered being given the propofol, then I was sleeping and dreaming – light, pleasant dreams whose content I could no longer remember. And then I awoke under warm blankets in the recovery room.
After a short rest, I was allowed to get up and dress. I met briefly with my doctor to go over the results:
“Do you have any questions?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “Can I get some of that propofol to go?”
He laughed. “I get that question all the time,” he said.
I went home empty handed, so I’m guessing the answer was “No.” Neverland Ranch will have to wait for this Propofol Princess.