861: Wisdom Teeth

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Wisdom Teeth
I heard the general anesthesia drugs can cause amnesia, so when I woke up mid-extraction I started taking notes on my hand so I'd remember things later. I managed 'AWAKE BUT EVERYTHING OK' before the dental assistant managed to find and confiscate all my pens.
Title text: I heard the general anesthesia drugs can cause amnesia, so when I woke up mid-extraction I started taking notes on my hand so I'd remember things later. I managed 'AWAKE BUT EVERYTHING OK' before the dental assistant managed to find and confiscate all my pens.


Wisdom teeth, as many of you are no doubt painfully aware, are the third set of molars found in humans. Because human jaws are smaller than our ape ancestors, most of us don't have room for a third set of molars, and the teeth become impacted (i.e. they grow straight into the other teeth), requiring a painful, debilitating procedure to remove them.

Because recovering from the surgery requires a good deal of rest time at home and a lot of painkillers, Cueball prepares to play Minecraft for the entire time. Minecraft is an insanely addictive game that primarily revolves around a) building things, and b) finding stuff to use to build more things. Despite its addictive nature, the game doesn't really have a point, so most people take to building lots of nifty stuff, such as large cities, computers made out of redstone logic gates, massive scale replicas of Earth, etc.

Due to the influence of the painkillers, Cueball has instead opted to flatten the entire continent and sort it into layers (by type of block, presumably). While there's no real indication of how big the continent is as Minecraft worlds are randomly generated, sea level in Minecraft is at Zlevel 62, which means he sorted at least 63 layers of a continent large enough to be sufficiently developed, so it is clear that this task would take a lot of time. (Collecting a block in Minecraft takes a certain minimum amount of time, depending on the block type, so even if he did everything as fast as he possibly could there's a substantial lower bound.)

Ironically, in the second panel Megan says she'll set Cueball up on her server, which indicates she probably uses a whitelist to secure the server from griefers who might destroy structures created by others, not expecting that Cueball would do exactly that. The last panel simply illustrates that painkillers tend to make one loopy.

The title-text refers to people waking up during surgery. Because anesthesia requires a lot of careful calibration and dosage (there's a reason anesthesiologists are paid hundreds of dollars an hour to be there, after all), it's possible to sometimes get it wrong, resulting in the patient waking up in the middle of the surgery. The three most important parts of anesthetics used for surgery are an analgesic (blocks pain), a sedative (puts you to sleep), and a paralytic (keeps you from moving). The worst-case scenario that most people hear about is when the analgesic and sedative are under-dosed, but the paralytic is correct, leaving the person awake, able to feel pain, but unable to alert the surgeons that anything is wrong. As a result, some countries and medical institutions have passed laws requiring surgeons to monitor brain activity so that these problems can be quickly remedied. The situation the title text is describing, with all three parts of the anesthetic wearing out (leaving the person able to write notes), would be quite unlikely.


Cueball, on phone: Hey! Know how you've been bugging me to play Minecraft for the past year? I'm game.
Megan, on phone: But you said you didn't want to "get hooked and spend days on end moving virtual cubes around while sitting motionless." What changed?
Cueball, on phone: I'm having my wisdom teeth out, and I'll be useless and doped up on painkillers for the next few days, so that actually sounds like the perfect distraction.
Megan, on phone: Oh. I'll set you up on our server!
72 hours later...
[Megan sitting at computer.]
Megan, on phone: Hey — starting to feel better? Enjoying the game? Let's see what you've... What the hell? Where IS everything?
[View of a Minecraft screen showing a vast empty expanse of land.]
Megan, offscreen: ... You made the entire continent perfectly flat?
Cueball, offscreen: And sorted it into layers.
Megan, offscreen: ...
Cueball, offscreen: I feel good about things. This is a good game.
[Cueball sitting on the floor at his laptop, bleeding from the mouth, surrounded by bloody wadded-up tissues and holding a bottle of medication.]
Megan, on phone: ... What exactly is in the painkillers they gave you?
Cueball, woozy: I can't read the label because I'm a hologram.
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Why should all three parts of the anesthetic have to wear off? It seems like Randall would probably not write "Everything ok" if he could feel the procedure. 02:10, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

I Gotta get my wisdom teeth removed asap! ~~JFreund
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