Random thoughts on anesthesia, anxiety and surgical fires...

I spent part of my day yesterday at the Cleveland Clinic having a tube inserted down my esophagus, into my stomach and beyond. Apart from the mental stress it really wasn't bad. The worst part was the anticipation. I was stupidly anxious and joked that they wouldn't need to give me drugs because I'd pass out all by myself.

My worst fear was that I would wake up in the middle of the procedure since they were only using twilight anesthesia. Funny thing is... I did wake up in the middle. Not actually very funny at the time but it turned out all right. I was pretty heavily sedated so I didn't scream or anything. (Not that I could scream with a tube down my throat.) And after I tried to throw up the tubing a few times, they helped me out with more drugs pretty quickly.

And then it was over. Biopsy done. Pictures taken.The real trouble with going to the doctor (apart from discomfort and/or pain) is that visits begin to multiply after the first one. More testing. More anxiety. More money. More time.

I cancelled this test two times before I finally kept the appointment. I woke up afterwards and thought: It's over! It's over! before I remembered that it's probably only the beginning... which is one of the reasons I didn't want to keep my appointment in the first place.

It turns out a diagnosis I received 5 years ago after a round of unpleasant testing is... wrong. Huh. So now, I have to spend my family's resources trying to figure out what is wrong. I am in pretty good health, thank God. It's hard for me to keep making these appointments when it seems to be largely a matter of comfort. I suppose there's always that possibility that an underlying cause is more serious... and that's why my husband keeps insisting that I go back. And that brings me to this terrible irony of the blessing of medical care...

Sacrificing a ton of family money and time to be made uncomfortable and given a wrong diagnosis. Oh, I know it's a blessing to have the medical technology that we do. And I know it's not always easy to get to the root of a problem in the body. I'm just taking a moment to whine. I do poorly with anxiety. My blood pressure is rising even as I consider the next round of testing which isn't even scheduled yet.

As I was laying there yesterday in my funny blue cap, I realized that the root of my anxiety was not primarily fear of pain (although that ranks pretty high) but primarily, loss of control. I was fine with the IV. I was not fine waiting for the drugs. I did not want to sleep. To not know. To be handled by others and to be forced to place my life in their hands.

The doctor holds up two vials and tells me she's going to make me comfortable now. I know I have something like 10 seconds before I'm oblivious to everything around me. It's out of my hands. Odds are pretty good I'll wake up again. Still.

Prayer comes naturally in those situations but it does not necessarily give me happy emotions... just steadies me as I consider what is true and what is not about life and death; reminds me in Whom I must place my trust and opens communication with Him. I hand over to Him a little more of that control I want to hang on to and am much more peaceful; my priorities reestablished.

I wish I could say that a prayer was the last thing in my thoughts before going under. It was actually the second to last thing. As I felt a wave of drug-induced heaviness hit me I noticed a sign posted on a glass cabinet door that read: Only you can prevent surgical fires.  My last muddled thought was... Good thing my husband is a fire chief.
Posted on July 8, 2011 and filed under "endoscopy", "fear", "health".