Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Surgery, etc.

On Thursday at 9:15 in the morning an anesthesiologist will insert an IV into a largish vein in the crook of my left elbow and pump into me an elegant mélange of chemicals that will knock me out. I will be under long enough for the surgeon to excise whatever cancerous nastiness has taken occupancy in my bladder, and then I will come out of it feeling nasty, peevish, soiled and angry. The last time I went under and then came to, I insisted on having a bacon-cheeseburger. I don’t remember if I actually ate one, but I wanted it badly.

Since I will be non compo mentis when I awake, the surgeon will tell my friend Paul, who took me to surgery and will remain in the area, what the operation entailed, if it was successful, and what I should be doing for the next few hours and days.  Paul, in turn, will tell me.

I don’t like going under. Thursday will mark the fourth time I’ll have been anesthetized in a 12-months period, and I’m convinced no good can come of this sort of unconsciousness. I understand the necessity of the procedure—where I to twitch, the surgeon might accidentally puncture my bladder, which would be, to quote him, “a not good thing.” Still, I worry about a massive brain cell die-off, which I understand is not uncommon in people who go under too often. I have no brain cells to spare, and even though modern science has demonstrated that the cells repair themselves, I think mine are very, very slow to do almost anything, and the repairs are likely to be as swift and effective as a those done by a Washington, DC, road crew.

I have noticed that medical website minimize the dangers of full-body anesthesia, telling me that serious side effects are uncommon in people who are otherwise healthy and can be easily managed. The side effects, not the people.

Here’s what I know: General anesthesia suppresses the normal throat reflexes that prevent aspiration, such as swallowing, coughing, or gagging. To help prevent aspiration, a tube is inserted down the throat, in order to protect the lungs from stuff coming up from the stomach, hence the usual instructions to patients not to eat or drink anything for a certain number of hours before anesthesia.

Insertion or removal of the tube may cause respiratory problems such as coughing or gagging, as well as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. There’s also the possibility of damaging the teeth and lips, swelling in the larynx and attendant sore throat and hoarseness. After the first operation, I found I couldn’t swallow without pain for about three hours.  

I’ll probably have nausea and vomiting after the procedure—that happened with the first two surgeries—but that will go away after I take antiemetics.
Actually, here’s my main concern: waking up during the surgery. That has happened to me twice before many years ago when the anesthesiologist poo-pooed my worries that my once-addicted liver has a tendency to assimilate anesthetics a lot quicker than the same organ in normal people. I make it a point to tell my history to the person administrating the drugs, but I do remember not that long ago having an attending nurse argue with me on the subject.

Now I simply hope that the anesthesia specialist will pay attention and prevent a premature awakening. After all, this ain’t brain surgery.

1 comment:

  1. Sending positive thoughts your way!