Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Anesthesia Made Me Do It! - Pt II

This past January, I went into a fabulous surgical center to have a ureteral stent removed. (More on the center in another post) So ..as usual ..I got a bit squirrelly thinking of the anesthesia and "am I going to be too breezy with my words?". Unfortunately ..or maybe fortunately ..I don't remember a darn thing. DARN Versed! Or maybe GREAT Versed!? One of those double edged sword situations I guess ..darned if you do and darned if you don't. (I have some vague ..dreamy memories in post-op this last time (January at the surge ctr) and have to say ..I really liked those nurses ..but I digress.) But mostly ..because I don't like NOT knowing what * I did* when others do ..I'd rather know and then do damage control ..like John and cry "DURESS! I was under DURESS!" :)

But this post is about post-op anesthesia ..the anesthesia effects they warn you about when you leave the same day surgery in a hospital or surgery center. I had actually intended to write this from a humorous perspective and there are some amusing things (to me), but in writing this ..I am even more aware of the potential dangers and complications of anesthesia... because the patient really thinks they are "normal", but may not make appropriate decisions or take appropriate actions... exactly because the drugs are still in their systems. I have something else I can't write about that ties very much into it and again ..it is only something I realized way after the fact. But these other little stories demonstrate this point well enough.

I would say this as a caution to patients and medical staff alike. I think most of us zone out with all the wordage on the med rec forms/releases and just sign. I know I really don't want to read what bad thing the hospital is not responsible for should things go south in surgery ..when I have no choice but to surrender myself and let them do what they have to do. I just sign. And when it comes to the form warning about post-op anesthesia decisions ..even though I am lucid ..blah, blah, blah ..yeah ..okay ...where do I sign? I know ...that is wrong. Maybe med staff should emphasize these points to the patient (who still won't care later..because of the drugs) and especially to the responsible party that drove them. As I wrote further down ..this last time ..one nurse did take the time to comprehensively explain some possible post-op anesthesia effects.

In previous posts ..I've mentioned I have experience with being an OR patient. As I just typed that sentence I LQ2M (laughed quietly to myself), because it is kind of amusing... in a bothersome way. I mean what are you gonna do? Some people never darken the doors of an OR their entire life and then there are the frequent fliers like myself. Thankfully ..my reasons were for cesareans - bringing our sons into the world and minor surgeries for my knee and my now healed ureter. Oh and routine colonoscopy and an EGD (all normal). I know there are inherent risks to all surgeries ..but thankfully ..I never had to have the really serious ones .. the high risk ones ..nor for any serious reasons...aside for the constricted ureter a couple of times. I am so VERY GRATEFUL for that!

All that being said ... because of my frequent flier status ..I have had many occasions to observe the differences in staff performance, i.e., their tasks ..treatment of this patient (and how they behave over all while performing their duties ..what they say to each other as they go about said tasks ..I noticed a lot) pre-op and post-op. Heck ..like they have theatre critics ..or restaurant critics ... I could be a same day surgery critic (SDS) ! Or some title that would cover it all from soup to nuts, since I've experienced the OR through being both and inpatient and an out patient.

As a matter of fact ..even though I haven't yet put up the post on my surgical center experiences I had this past October and January( I was a newbie to the off hospital site - surgical center experience) ..I will jump ahead and tell you that this surgical center gets a SeaSpray 5 Starfish rating. :)

Wow! All that and I haven't even gotten to the real point of this post! Please bear with me as I am out of practice. I haven't posted here in 2 weeks and that is a record. I have never gone that long in over 3 years of writing.
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Anytime you are about to go in to have surgery of any kind ... you always have to sign forms. And anytime you are having same day surgery, the nurse will always go over the part of the form that always instructs the patient not to operate machinery, drive or sign any legal and binding document. Nor should the patient make any important decisions. They also ALWAYS have to be accompanied by a responsible adult who will not be under the influence of any substances ..who will be competent to drive and competent enough to prevent you from doing anything legally binding (could claim signed under duress ..but what a pain it would be), life altering decisions, dangerous ..or stupid. I will add weird - speaking for myself... because it was weird... and I'll get to it and it was what caused me to realize ..oh my gosh! It WAS the anesthesia! Which then caused me to reflect back on the following post-op experiences while under the influence of anesthesia/conscious sedation drugs in my system... except ..I didn't realize it. You just think you are happy and thinking as you normally would.

Now ..I think the medical staff isn't concerned about "stupid", but speaking from experience ..I think amidst the legal jargon should be in plain English ..clear as day, "and don't do anything STUPID!!!", because that's why this post comes into existence... "Stupid". And one dangerous and one weird.

The medical forms do not specify much about the responsible parties that bring you there but there should be an additional form that requires them to sign to not let said "happy" patient STILL under the influence of anesthesia...even though they don't have a clue in the world they are because ...why, they are just always leaving the surgical departments so very happy and everything is just so right with the world and happiness abounds everywhere!" They should have said surgical patient's responsible party sign forms stating that said responsible party will NOT be an ACCOMPLICE for happy patient after leaving the surgical department.

I have only realized this since January 2010 after the hot dog. But that is the end of this post. Nothing big about the hot dog ..just a clarification catalyst for me.

I honestly never thought about these things as clearly as since the hot dog incident. That was my epiphany moment into post-op effects from anesthesia that can affect your thinking processes.

In October 1999 I went to the ED with renal colic ..no doubt that mother of all stones knocking around in my right kidney. They gave me a Demoral/Vistoral combo ..fell asleep, had an ultra sound and was discharged. I had to wait around a long time because Mr SeaSpray had to take my mother to the Dr so she would not miss her appointment. I remember that I was so happy and appreciated all my co-workers and strangers alike ... so MUCH! (WHY couldn't it work like that when that mother stone decided to descend and get stuck in my ureter? NO amount of drugs in the world that would still allow me to be conscious would help that pain!) I am an upbeat person and I do appreciate people, but this was a smooth..velvety appreciation. It was the drugs still in my system. Mr SeaSpray could've been 6 hrs late and it would be alright with me. And then I slept when I got home.

But then Pstamper brought me to a colonoscopy appointment in September 06. After said procedure ..I happily got it in my head ..since I liked the hospital so much and since I wasn't working ... to go find the human resources department to see what jobs they had available and perhaps make a connection with one of the HR staff. It didn't occur to me that perhaps right after a procedure with drugs still in my system ..that it may not be the time to seek employment! That could backfire 2 ways. 1. ..they will think you're on drugs and not want you .. 2. ..you may agree to a job that there is no way in God's creation you would ever want to do.

With my loyal and supportive friend at my side ..we found HR and I inquired about positions and also reviewed them. But then ..I began talking with the HR person... and talking ..and talking and questions ..and questions.. and all quite upbeat and happily.

When my monologue was finished ..Pstamper whispered to me .. "You were asking her questions ..but you didn't let her answer. Give her a chance to answer." OOPS! I don't remember what happened after that or when she gave me her card. Then not long after that I gave her a call and she offered me a position ..that I turned down ..and honestly ..if I could do it tomorrow ..I'd be there bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go! But it was fall 2006 and I had other things going on. I did tell her I had just come from a colonoscopy and so she must've cut me some slack. And here's the thing .. I was dressed casually for SDS and minimal makeup. I would hardly approach a potential interviewer like that unless they already knew me ..but certainly not a stranger. It was the drugs!

But it didn't end there that day, because we then went to Applebee's for lunch and I don't drink unless out with the girls for lunch or dinner which is not often. I totally forgot about the post-op anesthesia warnings ..and I had TWO gin & Tonics with a lime twist. It was a great lunch and I had a lot of fun with my friend.

And then after she brought me home in the early afternoon ...I slept until sometime at night It was very dark) .. not even getting up to tinkle. I was OUT! THAT was so dangerous because you should NEVER-EVER mix drugs and alcohol. You could end up in a coma and or die! I didn't even realize what I was doing wrong when I ordered those gin & tonics and THAT is something I was familiar with. Years earlier, I was a volunteer with the Karen Anne Quinlan Center of Hope Hospice. It was established by her parents in her memory. As a young woman ..one night she mixed alcohol and drugs, which caused her to go into a 10 year coma before passing away.

I never made that mistake again.

Then after an EGD ..another friend and I went out to lunch and a furniture store afterward. The store owner couldn't believe I was shopping and said she was not at all up to doing anything after hers. I almost bought a chair that was so big and oh so pretty and comfy ..it was a chair and a half. The fabric was beautiful! I didn't though and the next day, I instantly realized there was absolutely no place it would fit in the house. I would have known it in the store if it weren't for the procedure meds in my system.

Then this past January ...at the surgical center ... I had this wonderful nurse who was getting me ready for discharge. Oh and it's not the drugs that cause me to remember it this way ..she really was wonderful and most attentive. :)

Well .. during my discharge instructions ..she explained the potential dangers of anesthesia ..even once I was home ..in a way that no other medical staff person ever has. She used humor to make her points and I had no idea these things could happen.

For example ..she told me not to hold a baby, because with the anesthesia in my system.. I could just drop it for no reason ..unexpectedly drop it. And she told Mr SeaSpray, if he decides to cook eggs when we get home ..to keep me away from the stove ..because the anesthesia in my system could cause my legs to unexpectedly give out and the next thing he'll know is that my face will be in the eggs in the frying pan! LOL! I will always remember that now... for myself or if I accompany anyone as the responsible party.

I had no idea ones extremities could weaken and give out unexpectedly .. AFTER leaving the surgical department.

Well ..as we were walking out of the surgery center, I remembered that there is a wonderful bagel place just a hop, skip and a jump away ..down the road. So ..I asked Mr SeaSpray if we could please go there to get some bagels.

As he pulled up into the parking lot in front of the bagel place .. I remembered they sold these foot long hot dogs wrapped in a bagel. I suddenly had the most overwhelming urge ..overwhelming craving for one of these foot long hot dogs wrapped in a bagel. I HAD to have it!!! And I wanted bagels and vegetable cream cheese.

He came out with the bagels and I could not eat that foot long hot dog wrapped in a bagel fast enough. Piranhas would've been afraid of me. I didn't even use the mustard packet they wrapped with it. And ..I ate the WHOLE thing! I didn't even stop to take a drink. I LOVED it!

I only like kosher hot dogs but I certainly don't Love any hot dogs. I'd never eat one without mustard. I'd never eat one in a bagel. I'd never eat one a foot long. And I'd never crave a hot dog. Maybe ..it's that I've never gotten past that scene in "The Mechanic" where the guy is pushed into the hot dog mix and you see all the hot dogs come out the other way ..I don't know ..but hot dogs are not a crave worthy food in my mind. That being said ..it was the BEST hot dog I ever had in my entire life!

Days later as I reflected back on the hot dog incident .. I realized ..oh my gosh! It was the anesthesia ..the ANESTHESIA made me do it!

I don't know exactly what the anesthesia suppressed or activated in my brain ..but that random thought .."I HAVE to have a foot long hot dog in a bagel ..NOW!", was not a normal choice at all for me. They always looked so repulsive to me ..ugh! So WEIRD! It was like being pregnant and getting a craving.. but worse. I know me (good thing huh?) and trust me it is completely amusing to me that I attacked that foot long (too much hot dog at one time) hot dog with such gusto!

Then when I got in the house ..I blogged briefly and then slept the best sleep of my life for 4 hours, got up for whizzie winkle call and back to sleep for another 4 hours of the best dreamiest sleep I ever had in my life! If they could bottle what ever did that ..they could be very rich people. Or was it the foot long hot dog that caused me to sleep that way? You never really know what's in those things. I'm just sayin. ;)

In the future ..I am going to tell anyone accompanying me to not let me do certain things... like get foot long hot dogs Mr SeaSpray. ;) I have already told my friends to make sure I don't order alcohol. Perhaps it is best to just go straight home. My friends have helped make it bearable because we turn it into a fun day by going out to eat later. :) I will be doing that for a friend next week.

I will also be alert for anyone that I accompany to an out patient procedure. It's weird because you are not sloppy drunk gorked out on drugs. You seem normal ... but um .. the thought processes are definitely compromised. I have another perfect example ..but dang ..I can't share it.

P.S. I am just thinking ..I wonder if was really a foot long hot dog? That's an awful lot of hot dog and bagel... maybe that is distorted in my mind ..but I still think it was ..plus ..even tho I devoured it with ..um.. enthusiasm ..it still took until somewhere on another road before it was finished and so it had to be at least a foot long ..maybe MORE! Like the fish ..that got away! ;)


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