Thursday, 15 January 2009

In the Hospital

The first time I went under the knife was more than twenty years ago, for a minor surgery. The second time was ten days ago, for a fairly detailed procedure which took about two hours to complete.

The first time, they gave me General Anaesthesia (GA) which was nice. One moment I was nicely sedated and looking up at all those green-masked faces above me and the next moment, I was out like a light. Pure binary. From 1 to 0 with no gradation in between.

After what seemed couple of minutes—when it was actually close to an hour—they slapped me not-so gently on the cheeks and said it was over and wheeled me out. Fortunately, while coming out of anaesthesia, apart from feeling a bit groggy and disoriented, I did not suffer any of its ill effects such as nausea and vomiting. Overall, you can say, it was not so disagreeable.

This time they gave me spinal anaesthesia. This is when they inject the anaesthetic near the spinal cord and onto the nerves that connect to the spinal cord to block pain from an entire region of the body, such as the abdomen, hips or legs. No, it’s not really painful, but the funny thing is, when the surgery is going on, you are aware in a detached sort of way of what is going on, even though there is no sensation and you can’t feel a thing. I could infer that momentous things were happening outside my line of vision; could hear periodic sucking and gurgling noises and muted conversation, but it was as though I had become a sort of dispassionate observer, well, listener, and what was going on had nothing to do with me.

Of course, the detachment and dispassion goes out of the window pretty rapidly once the effect of the anaesthetic wears off within a few hours after the surgery and your back-to-whole body starts protesting rather unsubtly at the trauma it has been subjected to. That is when you become aware of your entire body and also of your pain and they start fusing together and reach the point when you are unable to distinguish between the two. You are your body and you are your pain, and the two are not disparate but one.

I realise now that pure physical pain has no distracting elements. The nearest I can compare it to is to a smokeless blue flame.

So here I am, slowly getting back to normal. Learning, or rather re-learning, how to get out of bed (wince!), how to take baby-steps to the toilet, and how to slowly position myself in front of my laptop and tap out the words you are reading just now.

I feel very humble.


Vijay said...

Rada.. glad to see you are okay and getting back on your feet.. take care ...

Renu said...

Before you know it, you'll be up and about :)... get well soon

Cynic in Wonderland said...

aiyo. get well soon.

and the anaesthesia feelin must be akin to the famous out of body experience?

take care yus?

Australopithecus said...

hope you have a speedy recovery

Well Wisher said...

Hi, This Well Wisher is Joshi. I guess by now you are raring to go. I appreciate your spirit of making light a procedure that would make the average person feel fear, more sickly and to sulk.
I had myself faced the scalpel thrice. First, when I was around 7. My tonsils were removed. I don’t remember much of that instance. Second, in 1990, just before my marriage. My Mom felt that the septum deviation causing partial suffocation should be corrected before the D-Day. She seemed to think that marriage and septum deviation would make me go completely out of breadth, and hence this move on her part. I was put under GA. Whatever they did to my nose after that I don’t know, but I did have a rendezvous with Saddam Hussein and God. This guy was brandishing a gun at God and threatening him!! I was there on God's side, feeling sort of hell.
My third procedure, in 2004, was to remove a tumour on my voice cord. This too was under GA. I told the Doc about my Saddam Hussein experience during the last procedure. He assured me that he will change the 'drug' to ensure that I had no hallucinations. I then realised that a manipulation of 'dreams' was possible. I told him that I wouldn't mind Simran, hoping that there surely should be 'drugs' they could choose from, to provide the necessary 'effects'. The Doc gave me a wide grin and I got no clue if he was obliging or saying 'not possible'. I was wheeled away into the OT before I could extract a clear answer from him. The positive person that I am, I just concluded that the Doc was going to grant me my wish and I started looking forward to Simran moments. While Simran was still on my mind, I blacked out. I don’t know how long I was ‘away’. When I came to again, I felt sort of sad and cheated. The Doc. was showing me the thumps up and grinning at me. Though I was not inclined to return his grin, I did manage one – courtesy demanded it. I strongly feel he is a very jealous man. Why else should he block out Simran from me? I got back my voice - but did I get value for money?

I hope you were not deprived of the value additions. I wish you a speedy recovery. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

padmaja said...

oh you poor thing... get well soon.
i've been under GA a few times and i actually enjoyed the experience! it was so cool!!

Rada said...

@Vijay: Thanks. Romba thanks!
@Renu: Thanks. Already feeling much better.
@Cynic: Thank you. Unfortunately no out-of-body experience to narrate. Maybe I should make up one? :-)
@Austra: Thanks, pal!
@Joshi: Hilarious comments. Thanks.
Hmm..Simran, eh? Given a choice I would have opted for Chitrangadha Singh! Sigh! :-(

Rada said...

@Padmaja: Thanks! Wow! You actually enjoyed the GA experience? Cool!

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.