Do you remember your first anesthetic? My first anesthetic was one that I received for an inguinal hernia. It was late summer, in 1971. My family had been in Mainz, Germany, where my father had been teaching anesthesiology at Gutenberg University. He was also studying the trauma ambulance system there, but that is another story.

While in Germany, I was in the sixth grade. Sometime during that year, I developed an indirect inguinal hernia. It was always easily reducible, so we waited until we were back home in the U.S. to have it repaired. The surgery took place in that summer between sixth and seventh grades.

The reason I bring up this procedure, and its anesthetic, is that it was the beginning of the practice of outpatient surgery back then. For many years, we in the medical field have...

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