On The Wings Of Lavender

It was the silliest of moments until suddenly it wasn’t, when I found myself in Eden.

I went in for minor shoulder surgery on Friday. I’ve written before about being a frequent flyer where surgery is concerned, this one being around my 14th or 15th. I wasn’t feeling nervous about the procedure (I love a good nap). If I had any concern, it related to the fact that the last time I had surgery—in this facility, in fact—I ended up with a staph infection that resulted in having to reverse the procedure, go through an arduous process of fighting the infection, then performing the original surgery all over again (surgeries 11, 12, and 13, respectively). But that was all just crap luck as far as I was concerned, and still didn’t deliver much for pre-surgery jitters this day.

In any case, while they were checking me in, they presented me with the unexpected option for aromatherapy beforehand. Aromatherapy. Hunh, I thought. The nurse registering me explained that research indicates that aromatherapy can help with relaxation. While I was feeling pretty relaxed already, I thought about the scene in the waiting room I’d find myself in momentarily—the sterility of it, just sitting there in my flimsy gown—and thought, hey, anything that might bump up that ambience. What the heck–I said yes.

I’m taken back to my room, handed my gown, socks, and hairnet, allowed to change, and then I sit with another nurse who’s going to run a bunch of questions by me and prep my shoulder. In the midst of all of this, she notes where I said yes to aromatherapy, and she hands me a capped plastic vial that contains what appears to be a few cotton balls. “Here’s your aromatherapy,” she says.

Now, shame on me for at all fancying that “aromatherapy” might involve something akin to what you experience in a massage room—soft lighting, innocuous new age music playing, and the transporting aroma of something like cottonwood wafting gently on the wind around me. This version of “aromatherapy” bore little difference than had she handed me a similar vial and said, “Please submit your sample in this” and pointed me to the bathroom. “Lavender okay with you?” she asks.

Uhm, sure, lavender’s fine. I take the vial from her, which has a very clinical label on it with the facility’s name, five scents listed (bergamot, lavender, lemon, peppermint, and other) and a line for the date. The box next to lavender is checked, and the date written is today’s. If nothing else, I know for sure I’m getting myself some fresh lavender aromatherapy here.

While she continues with her questions, then sets about shaving my shoulder, I pop the cap on the vial and take a tentative sniff. Hmm…not bad. That’s a pretty accurate lavender smell. I take a deeper inhale of it. Why, yes, yes indeed, that is very lavender, I discover. And in no time, I go from zero to sixty in being curious to utterly tickled by this delightful aroma. In a word, this shit smells GREAT! Surgery? Hospital? I’m feeling in the land of Ali Baba, baby! I’m half tempted to just bag the vial and pop the cotton balls right up my nose.

The nurse notices my enthusiasm and laughs. “You’re liking the aromatherapy, eh?” My first reaction is, why you harshin’ on my aroma jam, yo? But of course the positivity coursing through my system on the wing’s of lavender has me smile at her like a drugged child and say, “Oh, yeah!”

The anesthesiologist, he then comes in, catching me nose deep in the vial, and he laughs too. “Doc,” I say, “beat ‘em, join ‘em,” and extend the vial his way, suddenly the world’s most generous junkie. He holds up his hands in no thanks and says, “I’m driving.” We both laugh.


Point being, it was a terribly fun discovery, that this wholly artificial little intervention they’ve come up with actually had the outsized effect on me that it did.

After coming to following a successful surgery and getting my wits about me, Ann ready to take me home, and with post-op directions explained, they end my time there with the obvious: “Do you have any questions before leaving, Mr. McWright?”

“Can I take the aromatherapy home with me?”


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