I’d really like to have surgery, I just don’t want to go to sleep…

This is a concern that we hear daily, “I don’t like anesthesia…” or something along those lines. It is perfectly normal to have concerns and fears about something that most of us know very little about. Or at the very least, the only knowledge we do have is third hand about Michael Jackson’s untimely demise. I like to compare anesthesia to flying, without the pesky pat down in security. So, you have decided to go the Caribbean for a fabulous vacation, you can’t drive and you hate to fly. You have some options, don’t go or suck it up and join the herd at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and hope and pray that you’ll arrive safely–or, you embrace it as the only way you are going to be on that awesome beach and enjoy the ride. This is the same decision you’ll make about elective surgery. You either decide your are going to “get on the plane” or you don’t. If you do, then you go to the hospital, wait the 2 hours (just like international flights) they ask you to come early, answer the same 50 questions 10 different times (“security”) and then wait to get to the OR. Once you get there, you are greeted warmly (much like the plane) and asked to lie on a table that is more narrow (Coach, anyone?) than you’d like it to be. The anesthesiologist (“this is your captain speaking”) and circulating nurse (flight attendant) begin to hook you up to monitors and things to keep you safe during your surgery–much like the oxygen and no smoking speech as you taxi to the runway. At this point, its time for you to think good thoughts, maybe about how good you are going to look in your new bikini. You begin to feel a warm sensation in your IV and your off…safely asleep and your surgery can begin. Before you know it, you’ll be “back on the ground” in recovery where another pleasant face is asking you what you would like to drink.

The real reason that most people have any concerns with anesthesia is completely about control…you’ve chosen your surgery, your surgeon, your implant, and your hospital but you have very little control over who puts you to sleep or when exactly you go or what you can eat and when…you hopefully (at least you do in our practice) get to meet your board certified anesthesia provider prior to going to sleep, to discuss concerns and your medical history and you can at least put a name with the face of the person who is going to be caring for you–think about how many times you have actually had a conversation with your pilot prior to flight…I only have once, and that is because a friend flew me to Vegas in his plane. Yet we blindly trust that Delta is going to get us there safely and thankfully, they deliver.

Anesthesia has come a long long way since your grandmother had surgery as a young woman. People do not randomly wake up in the middle of a procedure like in that movie. And, for the most part, people aren’t miserably sick after every surgery like they were 20 years ago.

Think of it this way–when was the last time that you actually had a real break from the kids, work and your smart phone? Personally, I’m looking for something to have done.

Live well.

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