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Weird Tales

February 1929

An Adventure in Anesthesia

By Everil Worrell

THERE is a stage known as "Fool's Paradise" in the course ol' acute appendicitis, and this stage Brown had readied. It is caused by the relaxation of tortured nerves incident to the relief occasioned by the bursting of a distended appendix, and is not in itself an encouraging symptom; but the corresponding mental relief, after the preoccupation of pain and nausea, made it easy for Brown's anticipations of the new experience to be wildly exciting. Taking an anesthetic—well, the patient with the soundest heart sometimes fails to come back. Being sliced with a surgeon's knife, and returning to consciousness with a deep wound—that, too, is a thing to make the pulses throb with the effort of meeting the issue without panic.

However, when the doctors asked him if he had any objection to the use of a new gas called ethysene, his curiosity was slight.

"I don't want to be experimented on," he told them, "but if it will keep me from feeling you slice me, and if it's all right on the heart, go ahead. I suppose you fellows know all those things well enough, or you wouldn't be planning to use it on me."

"We know those things," he was assured. "We've used this gas in this hospital. It is highly desirable to use it, because of the very things you mention. Shock is slight, heart action good, the physical condition fine. But——"

"Here's the dope, Brown," interrupted the house doctor. "We gave ethysene to a man named Hallam, who had a tonsillectomy here. All right. He took it well, and rallied well. Only, when he had regained consciousness, he insisted that the new gas had an effect on the soul, and that it had sent his to heaven. He liked it so well in heaven, that after he got out and about, he took gas again—illuminating-gas, in his room, with the keyhole plugged and that sort of thing, you know—in order to go back to heaven again. I guess he succeeded—at least he died."

Brown laughed.

"Well, I'm pretty well satisfied that my family tree goes back to a fine, hairy ape. I guess that answers your question. Unless, of course, the gas had the effect of making him loco. Do you mean he's the only patient hero who ever took ethysene, and that I would be the second?"

"Oh, no, no!" The surgeon and house doctor answered together, and the house doctor continued:

"Three cases—names were Newton, Meredith and Canby—we've been offering it pretty freely, though most of our patients want the old-fashioned stuff. Newton, Meredith and Canby, they all three had ethysene inside the last month. Well, none of them went to heaven. So, now, what do you say?"

"Oh, make it ethysene. by all means," said Brown. "I say, let's get it over. Let's go."

Brown had had a reason for asking to be taken to Franklin Hospital. His sweetheart, Dorothy Wood, a pretty girl with gray eyes and dark auburn hair, was a student nurse there. While Brown was being prepared for the operating-room, a coarse hospital gown buttoned at his neck, coarse white wrappings fastened over his feet and legs, and a hypodermic needle jabbed into his arm, the girl hovered in the corridor outside his door. When they wheeled him into the hall, his brain hazy from the injected opiate, she met his gaze with a tender, tremulous smile. It raised Brown's spirits, and the effect of the morphine was to make him light-headed.

"Tell you all about heaven when I get back, Dorothy," he called, as they wheeled him toward the elevator.

For a moment the girl named Dorothy stood motionless, unconscious of sympathetic glances from two other nurses and a young intern who stood near by. All at once she started forward.

"Did he mean—are they going to give him that ethysene gas?" she asked the young intern.

"Yes, but that's all right. Don't worry, Miss Wood," he consoled her. "There was only that fellow, Hallam. They've used it since, and it's perfectly fine. Hallam was crazy."

"But it might—it might affect the soul."

The intern raised his eyebrows.

"Well, if Brown goes to heaven, he'll come back, as poor Hallam said that hr did. And then T guess you can keep him here, can't you. Miss Wood?"

He chuck...

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