My New Toy

And by “toy” I mean thing for my brain to play with.  And by “play with” I mean thing to worry about.

Unintended Intra-Operative Awareness

Are you fucking kidding me?  People wake up during surgery, feel parts being taken out of them, and can’t even talk or alert the staff that they are awake?  This shit sounds like a horror film.  Jesus.  Disgusting.  Terrifying.  Disgustifying.  Yeah, new word.  You read it here first.

Christ, and it happens to 1 or 2 out of every 1000 patients.  1 out of  a thousand?  Not one in a million?  C’mon!  This shit sounds common!  What the hell?  I mean, really, it makes me reconsider surgery.  It makes me reconsider band-aids.  It is currently scaring the living shit out of me.  Wait, what is the percentage of that happening?  Ok, on the high end, 2 out of 1000, it equals .2% of patients.  Phew.  That sounds better.  1 out of 500 translates in my brain to “you will likely feel the pain and agony of the breast tissue being removed for over two hours of surgery without any way to signal your consciousness to the doctors around you and be so traumatized by it you will consider suicide as an appropriate measure to take to be rid of the horrific memory.”  But .2% translates to “Really fucking unlikely, kid.  So relax.”  But for safe measure, let’s build a context:

Other Traumatic Experiences I Am More Likely to Encounter

-1 million people in America are hit by cars yearly, or .3% of the population.

-1 in 6 (or 17%) of American women are victim to an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

-I can’t even count the amount of people that preform Karaoke in front of me each year.  Horrific.

Ugh.  I have to relax.  Even if the unlikely occurred and I did wake up, it is even more unlikely that I would remember it.  They give you anesthesia to sleep through it, and also another drug to induce amnesia.  So they give you a drug to knock you unconscious and another drug to forget that you were unconscious.  They hook you up, essentially.

So this is deep deep deep sleep.  And I have been put under on two other occasions with no negative ramifications.  I remember the room they gave me the sedative pills in to relax before surgery, and I remember being wheeled into the OR where it was sparse and bright but no other descriptions come to mind.  I remember the mask over my face and someone telling me to “Count backwards from ten”  I remember “ten, nine…” then I remember being in post-op.  I was told I had been laying there like an old dog in front of a fireplace for two hours.  Yeah, they knocked me the fuck out.

Doctors leave people in a state of intentional semi-wakefulness during spinal surgery to insure they aren’t fucking up the patients ability to later wiggle their toes or flap their jaws, and those patients don’t remember it.

This isn’t a rag of ether tied around my face.  This isn’t a Civil War-era hospital.  This is Dr. Medalie, who everyone loves, and his competent staff, and I am a lightweight.   I do no recreational drugs, and have no tolerance, and will be blissfully knocked out for the whole procedure.  I will wake up in post-op with no recollection of the surgery and in plenty of pain I will happily endure because I don’t remember a fucking thing since “Count backward from ten…”

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

2 thoughts on “My New Toy

  1. Eli,

    Apparently I’ve managed to miss this excellent post; for some reason it didn’t appear in my inbox… but anyway. I would try and reassure you, with all my next-to-none experience (of course), but it sounds like you’re doing pretty well at rationalising on your own. I love the karaoke point. ‘Tis horrific indeed 🙂

    This sounds like the exact sort of thing I would worry about myself, although I’m much further away from surgery, timescale-wise. Just keep thinking about the good statistics. The funny statistics (which, by the way, were brilliantly explained). The calming statistics.

    You may well have already done the research, but it might be worth reading others who’ve had surgery with the same doctor, for further reassurement’s sake. But then again, I suppose I would say that, because that’s just What I Do. With everything… Ahem.

    Anyway, keep the positive thinking going strong… and I thought you might like to know that I will be using “disgustifying” regularly from now on. Fantastic word; kudos!


    • J.C.,

      Yeah, I am in conversation with one other guy who had surgery with the same Dr. and he gives two thumbs up. Many account I find online about Dr. Medalie is only good news: everyone seems to love the guy. So this is me trying to calm down. 😉


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