Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's A Gas, Man


About my surgery: a week ago yesterday I had some outpatient surgery, specifically a colonoscopy (my first ever) and repair of two hernias. I just want to say that if you haven't been under the knife in a few years that the procedures, the painkillers, the anesthesia have all advanced by light years since, say, the early seventies, when I last went under the knife.

The advances in anesthesia are for me particularly astounding. As a fifty year-old man, I'm old enough to remember the era when it was common to put you under with ether. This entailed holding you down while somebody held the mask on your face, forcing you to breathe the most godawful-smelling stuff in the universe until you "went under."

When I was six years old I had a particularly traumatic experience involving an incompetent dentist and anesthetic gas. This left me with a deep dread of any medical procedure involving general anesthesia - even though I had several subsequent operations that went just fine by the standards of the day.

Then came last week. I was told the docs planned to use "monitored anesthesia," also known as "conscious sedation." Here's how it worked from my perspective. They got me into my gown and in a bed, started an IV into which they pumped what they told me was some sort of sedative that has amnesia-inducing qualities. After I mellowed out for a while, they wheeled me into the O.R. and started prepping me.

I remember speaking with one of the nurses who was telling me that they had to shave some of the hair off my belly for the hernia procedure. What happened next was like a flash forward in the movies. In a split second I was back on the gurney, wheeling down the hall and the orderly was telling me it was time to go home.

The nurse later told my fiance that one of the medications given me in pre-op was (no joke) a variation on the "date-rape" drug. I can tell you it worked as well as I could have hoped. I don't remember anything about the hernia repair or (thank Gawd) the colonoscopy.

So all my worries about the "gas thing" were for naught; in this particular instance they didn't even have to gas me after I was "under." And I got to go home and start eating again right away.
So if you're got a cuttin' session coming up soon, and it's been a while for ya don't worry. Things are a lot better than they used to be.

Tomorrow...I get married (I'll definitely need general anesthesia for that, huh huh huh). Stay tuned...

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