Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Just Put Me Out. No Really, You Can Put Me Out Now. Hey! I'm Still AWAKE!

Two years ago I was awake throughout a colonoscopy. The only good thing about that experience was that I came out of it feeling a sort of kinship with Katie Couric. Except that she meant to be awake and I didn't.

I can (but won't) tell you every detail of what transpired in that room and everything the medical personnel talked about. I was on Versed which is an amnesic; it allows the patient to converse, but should wipe out all memory while the patient is under its influence. Except that it didn't wipe out my memory at all -- not then, and not later. I told the nurses that I wasn't out -- that I was really sleepy and feeling dopey, but that I was sure I'd remember everything -- and hey, that hurts! They condescendingly told me that no, I wouldn't remember any of the procedure, including any of the pain.

They were wrong. I can still recall details of that procedure and it's not pretty. In the recovery room, I told the nurses that I had been awake the whole time and they, too, discounted my fear (and my tears). It remains a horrendous memory and even though I'll be given something completely different (Diprivan) on Thursday, I still don't like the idea of anesthesia. Plus, I've heard that redheads need more medication and that we tend to have "patchy results" more often, and I just hope that that's not considered a myth with my surgeon and anesthesiologist! My personal doc told me today that it is, indeed, proving to be true.

While all this was going through my mind this morning, I saw this article on the front page of the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Oh great -- just great! This is all I need! Here's an excerpt:

Soon after being put under anesthesia to undergo a hysterectomy, Diana Todd began hearing voices. As she tried to listen to what the voices were saying, she felt the first cut.

The pain was indescribable.

She stopped counting after the fifth time her surgeon's scalpel sliced into her body.

Lying on the operating room table, the anesthesia drugs had her paralyzed. She was screaming on the inside, but no one in the room knew she was fully aware of the surgery being performed on her.

It's been nearly four years since Todd experienced what is called awareness -- being awake and able to hear or feel what is happening during a surgery when one is supposed to be unconscious.

Similar accounts from patients nationwide (about 28 percent say they experience physical pain when aware of their surgery) prompted the University of Washington to create an anesthesia awareness registry to understand how and why it happens and come up with ways to prevent it. Launched in October, the registry is a forum for patients from around the country to share their stories of awareness. Physicians then look at their medical records, from which names and locations have been removed, to try to determine if mistakes were made.

I promise you that I'm not normally a chicken about medical procedures, but this one's got me a bit (OK, very) nervous. But I can't focus on all this (ha!) until I get through two interviews tomorrow.

Maybe after tomorrow I'll beg to be put under!

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7 comments:

Juanita said...

Your colonoscopy experience sounds awful! I have had several (both my mother and her sister had colon cancer, so I'm especially vulnerable) and never had problems like that. I LOVE the doc who did the procedure; he is very caring and just plain nice. If you want his name, let me know. He has a practice in Federal Way and, I think, on the East Side. Hopefully, you will have a better experience with the eye surgery. I read the article in the PI too and wish now I hadn't. It sure makes you even more scared.

Claire said...

Oh . . . my . . . God. That is like one of my worst fears. Makes the squashed breast from the mammogram seem not so bad!

HomeJewel said...

Carol - as a redhead, it is true about redheads and anesthesia. My dentist skips the normal stuff and goes to the big daddy drugs for me. When I had my recent ACL reconstruction, I shared my concerns with the anesthesiologist. He knew about the medical studies with redheads and assured me that I would be completely out and wouldn't feel a thing. He did a great job - I don't remember anything. Share your concerns with the anesthesiologist. I think you will be fine. What is up with redheads - not only the anesthesia issue, but the bleeding issue as well?!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Just be really firm about the redhead thing and explain your colonoscopy experience. I hope it all goes EASILY tomorrow! Huge hugs to you!

Rositta said...

Carol, it sounds horrible. I have had one and my husband has had three in the last two years within another one coming up in May. They do what they call twilight sleep here, it's not a full anesthetic but truthfully I didn't feel a thing and neither did my sweetie.I also woke up really quickly and they let me go home in half an hours. When my Mom did her cataracts they also used the twilight type anesthetic and she had no problem. I'm sure all will go well...ciao

Anonymous said...

not good stories and I feel deep sympathy. But on the opposite side of the ledger, my wife recently had a knee reconstruction using a series of spinal anaesthetics....and watched the whole procedure on the LCD screen, with no traumas. and conversed aout what was happening. No, she is not a redhead!
It is a personal issue...we are all different. Tell the anaesthetistabout the experiences; they can counter most issues.

Princess Cat's Pajamas said...

I've never heard of the redhead/anesthesia connection before, but I'm also a redhead who has trouble with anesthesia... Definitely let the doctor know about your previous experience. That way they will have a better idea of the kind of anesthesia you'll need and they'll be sure to monitor you extra closely during the procedure.

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