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My first General Anesthesia Experience

Jul 10, 2010 - 11 comments

5 days ago I had a laparoscopic removal of  4cm x 2 cm cyst that apparently was mangled up with my left ovary. The doctor is pretty sure this was a dermoid, but the biopsy isn’t back. The cyst, my ovary, left fallopian tube and some old scar tissue were removed. I post here in hopes that it boosts the spirits of those who are facing similar experiences, as I found a lot of comfort from women online- and far more info than my own OBGYN surgeon ever gave me!
I have had 2 c-sections and my recovery so far is not too different except for general anesthesia "hangover". Going under was my biggest, most consuming fear; I'd never had general before and my fear was extreme. I have a history of odd reactions to medicines in addition to having a Mitral Valve Prolapse (heart murmur), some seizures and past history of panic disorder. I was absolutely terrified and broke into a cold sweat whenever I thought about the surgery. I read way too many horror stories on the internet, and forbade myself from googling any more search strings like "awake + paralyzed during surgery".
To prepare for surgery, I got healthy. I jogged, danced or swam every day and ate fresh foods. I stopped drinking alcohol and meditated. I also played little mind games with myself, forcing myself out of my comfort zones in various situations. I allowed myself to fully imagine the worse case scenarios and go through the feelings, desensitizing. Talking to the anesthesiologist- and officially requesting him - really helped a LOT with trust and info.  I requested a BIS monitor (measures brain activity during surgery to make sure you are in fact unconscious and not just paralyzed).
All of this sounds like high maintenance, ultra neurotic behavior but as my fear was on the scale of a phobia I did what I needed to do and I entered the hospital in a state of serenity. Everything went according to plan with none of my fears coming true. Throwing up afterwards and feeling like crap were gifts to me- I was so relieved to have it done.
What did they do to me? I had Versed (a sedative similar to valium) right before surgery- I had to wait 2 hours from scheduled time due to an emergency surgery that came in- so I started thinking my fearful thoughts again but pushed those away. The versed was given through IV, literally right when they took me into the O.R. It acted very quickly and I felt a little scared at first but I quickly turned into jelly. In the OR I remember they gave me Propofol through my IV and I asked if that would put me to sleep. The nurse said yes and I said it wasn’t working and the next thing about 2 hours later I was in the post-op room. During the surgery I was given one gas with nitrous oxide to keep me under, and a paralytic drug. As the paralytic effects the lungs, I had a tube down my throat to breathe for me. I had told the anesthesiologist that I have a narrow throat, and he graciously used a smaller tube. I had no sore throat afterwards. The surgeon filled my tummy with gas as to get to the good parts, and used a utensil through my cervix to move my uterus to the side. I am told they put some sort of pressurized things around my legs that helped keep the circulation going to avoid blood clots. All in all, I was in very, very good hands. The BIS monitor was used as I requested- probably unnecessary but I felt better having it.
I don't remember coming to, just being extremely drugged feeling and heavy, not scared or confused at all. I could barely move anything and so just gave into it and let the nurse dose me with pain meds through IV. I think she gave me too many pain meds- as much as I wanted whenever I asked- and I was in no good condition to make such choices! I was given morphine in addition to Demerol (which I was told beforehand helps with the shaky, cold feelings). They gave me something else for nausea. I was extremely sedated by this time. I was in the post-op room for at least 3 hours and finally they wheeled me into the 2nd recovery room where my beloved boyfriend was waiting.
   We were here for about an hour; this room seems like the place where the nurse's duty is to get you the heck out of the hospital as quickly as she can. She muttered under her breath to the OR nurse that I had too many meds. I was really out of it, but hey anxiety and pain free. :) I did throw up a couple times after they gave me some ginger ale- the best drink I had ever had, I was so thirsty- but this was a bit of a relief. The nurse actually gave me a Vicodin there-more meds- so I could sit up into a wheelchair and go to the car. Thank god my BF took good care of me; I could barely talk and was very, very out of it. It seems like they'd want to keep me around until I was at least more coherent and not puking. I was so happy when we got home. Where I promptly puked again and my BF helped me into bed.  I went in and out of a light slumber for a few hours then woke up and got to the couch for a light snack and 7up. The best invention ever is the bendy straw.
So far, 5 days later, I have been taking Vicodin  500mg apx. every 4 hours the first few days and then down to 5 or 6 hours the past 2 days and today just had a ½ when I got up and 1/2 a while ago. The Vicodin helps me be a couch potato- something I don't naturally excel at- and keeps me in recovery mode so I can heal but I’m tapering off.
The gas pains in my shoulders was intense the first 2 days- worse than the tummy area. Gently massaging, walking around slowly and shifting position helped. One thing I don't remember the doc telling me that freaked me out the first morning I woke up was the big puddle of fluid that soaked my bed. I thought I had wet the bed! I called the office and was told it was okay; in addition to 2 small incisions on the pelvic line and one on my belly button, I have a 1 inch incision on the right side of my belly. The doc had filled my abdomen with some type of fluid after surgery so that I would have less scarring. It was freaky to be leaking- I felt like a giant water balloon- but that stopped after a few days. I slept on my leaking side with a clean towel every night. For constipation I took powdered magnesium citrate in a little juice- and had a BM the next day.
The pain is diminishing but I feel like I have the IQ of a butternut squash and I'm very foggy headed. Also nauseous, dizzy and weak. Weird feelings in my stomach and groin;  tiny cramps.  Walking around the house a bit for circulation but that exhausts me still. I am very lucky to have my BF with me; he has been so sweet and patient and won't let me do anything I'm not supposed to (nothing more sexy than holding hands and little kisses- yes, only I would want to be intimate at a time like this!) I know I need to wait until my 2 week follow up for the okay on sex, swimming and my third favorite activity tub baths.
I am very happy to have this done and that I didn't  run away screaming and just let the thing grow. That would have ended up in a dangerous rupture or more invasive surgery. I am feeling a bit emotional and weepy- but will not judge this time as "the new me" as so much has taken place. My doctor has not discussed the effects of having lost one ovary. I've read that the remaining ovary learns to make double the estrogen but not sure if this is right.
I am wiped out and hope that I start feeling better soon. It seems like the anesthetic is still in my body; I hear that taking goldenseal can help detoxify (after the initial healing period and pain meds are done). I hate feeling like a zombie and daytime television is an aesthetic nightmare. But overall, truly, I am blessed and have faith that my biopsy comes back clean.
This has been a very long and rambling message, but I hope someone gains something from my point of view. I am so relieved I can't tell you- I can handle the horrid CSI reruns and tax reduction commercials for now, life is beautiful and I could do this again if I had to!