Friday, January 14, 2011

Another of My Medical Rants

I had a minor surgical procedure done on an outpatient basis yesterday. I had discussed anesthesia with my doctor, and agreed that they would use propofol. I've responded well to this in the past. I've been given Valium as a sedative before hospital procedures, but asked that they not administer it this time. I said I was fine, not anxious, and didn't need a sedative. I told him "I don't like altered states." The anesthesiologist said, "Okay, no Valium."

A few minutes later the nurse shot something into the port in my hand. "What's that?" I asked, and she said, "Versed." If there's one drug I have very strong feelings about, it's Versed. I hate it!! It's primarily a memory eraser, which I suppose explains why so many doctors and hospitals love it. The nurse said it's also a sedative, which is true. But I had already explained that I didn't need a sedative. Should I have said instead, "I don't want Valium, Versed, or any other benzodiazepine or tranquilizer"? Maybe I should have added, "I don't even want a martini!"

I was calm before the Versed, but seriously pissed off after. I didn't take it out on the nurses, who were all friendly and chatty, but I felt like a trapped animal. I knew I was going to remember what was happening only up to a certain point, after which it would be as though it never happened. Sure enough, when they wheeled me into the operating room and the nurses started asking me about the best position for my arthritic knees, I could feel myself slowly disappearing. I have a garbled memory of the beginning of that conversation, and then it's as though a black curtain descended on everything.

I've had Versed before. The first time it was given to me for a very painful procedure, and I woke up to find my shins skinned. "That's from when you tried to get away," the doctor said. I have no memory of the procedure, but my subconscious remembered: I had dreams where I was screaming.

The last time I had Versed, it took an uncomfortably long time for my memory to get back to normal. I've read that the older you are, the tougher it is to shake off the effects. I absolutely did not want to take it again.

Propofol is already a memory eraser. How much of my memory did they want erased, for heaven's sake?

I guess this is a warning. If there's something you don't want to swallow, breathe or take intravenously, be general as well as specific, and cover all your bases. With any luck, they might listen to you.


crystal said...

Oh, scary :(

The time I had an operation, a nasal airway reconstruction, I was working in the hospital surgery and knew the anesthesiologist. I remember telling him what drug I didn't want - can't remember now what it was but it usually made people throw up after surgery - and he agreed not to give it. Also I made the nurses promise to let me keep my underwear on :) Still it was creepy to feel myself slippung away. I hope you're feeling ok now.

Susan said...

Hi Crystal,

I'm feeling quite good. No pain whatsoever, despite the Percoset prescription they sent home with me.

A couple of times my word retrieval was somewhat odd, but fortunately it was in my head; I wasn't speaking with anyone.

Yes, I think underwear should be an option with nasal surgery. :-)

Indigo Bunting said...

aaaargh! (But glad you are feeling better...continue to do so!)