Friday, March 13, 2015

Something Funny Happened On The Way To...

Something odd happened to me on Wednesday, something that shook both me and my husband to the core. Something that's left me wondering about a lot of things.

Something that's hard to face. 

I was having a regular (for me) back procedure as an outpatient on Wednesday. No big deal, but  I would need to be sedated for the procedure. I remember being in the operating room, watching as the anesthesiologist slowly pushed on the big syringe of medication that would keep me sedated during a lumbar radiofrequency ablation. ( A LRA is when the nerves are destroyed around the injured section of someone's spine. For many people, destroying those nerves also kills off the pain. Since nerves regenerate, though, patients usually have to have two procedures a year for maximum pain relief. For me, this is the second round attempt of ablations, and the first didn't really help all that much. But I digress--) I woke up in the recovery room, confused and kind of panicked, only to have a nurse tell me that my doctor had cancelled the procedure because I'd stopped breathing and turned blue.

Yes,you read that right.I stopped breathing. WTF? 

On top of that, I was hurting like hell. I apparently was breathing long enough to get the painful part, but not the pain relief part. 

Best I can figure from what the nurses and my doctor told me, mere sedation doesn't keep me from reacting to pain while on the operating table. The past few procedures, dead unconscious, I would tense up and try to move away from all the sharp pointy things. So it seems that the anesthesiologist might have over-sedated me in an effort to keep me from moving. 

Bad decision. Apparently, it worked only too well. I certainly wasn't moving. 

Or breathing. 

Now, obviously, the last two days have been extremely unpleasant. Pain aside (because that, at least, I know how to handle) I've had to ask myself what in the world happened. I don't like anesthesia in the first place. I don't like sinking into blackness and waking up somewhere different with no memory of having gotten there. So now when I have a procedure--and this one we're going to try to repeat on next Wednesday--what am I going to be thinking about? Not writing, not football, not kittens, not my family---no, I'll be thinking about not BREATHING. And not having any control over how to rectify that situation. 

So I spent today doing all the stupid little things that people do when they've had a close call, or what they perceive as a close call. I looked over my will, my insurance policy, my living will--all that stuff. And,for the most part, I've not suffered any adverse physical effects aside from, strangely, a numb tongue and a sore throat. I don't even want to know why THAT would be; my imagination is supplying enough possibilities that I am trying to forget.  

I also realized that despite the seeming normalcy surrounding modern medical care, every time you go under the knife, you're seriously risking death. For real. Death. People die during wisdom teeth removals, and colonoscopies, and breast augmentation. And, apparently, lumbar radiofrequency ablations as well. 

My doctor and I discussed how we'd proceed on the second attempt on Wednesday. Apparently, I get to experience this next surgery while awake and under a local. To be honest, I'm not sure if that's any better. I've had discograms before, which are performed without any anesthetic at all, and they suck. My doctor was always so shocked that I could go through them without moving or yelling or cussing. Of course, he had no idea that I spent the whole procedure reciting the Aeneid to myself in Latin to keep my mind focused on something other than the sharp pointy things, but I guess Vergil is preferable to turning blue while having no control over what is happening to my unconscious body. 

And, to be frank, I'm kind of leery about going under any type of anesthesia right now. Yes, I've always hated waking up somewhere other than where I went to sleep.

But I think I hate turning blue even more.