General Anesthesia


I’m going under general for the first time in two weeks for a brain biopsy.

Explain it and how it’s safe.

I’m not scared of the biopsy, just the general.

Is that normal?

In: 90

You ever just fall asleep mid afternoon because you’re super tired and then wake up and shocked it’s night time and you didn’t mean to sleep that long?

It’s like that. Except there’s also a signal blocker running interference on pain signals. So stuff doesn’t wake you up until it wears off.

Totally normal to be apprehensive about this. So anesthesia is kind of a marvel of modern science and what a wonderful discovery it is. Without it, things like heart surgery would be excruciating and essentially impossible. Essentially what’s happening is they’re temporarily turning off the signals that make your brain do stuff so that they can do stuff to you.

Is it safe? The answer is **yes**, it’s very safe. But what makes it safe? Well, it’s the anesthesiologist. You have a whole-ass MD (and supporting nursing staff) right there whose sole job is to monitor your vital stats and make sure that you’re getting exactly the right amount of medication for the desired result. They have **one** job to do, and they are **very** good at it. This is why it’s VERY important not to lie to your doctor about your medical history, because there are things that can interfere with anesthesia and make their job harder. So if you’re a smoker, be sure to tell them you’re a smoker. If you have metal pins in your wrist and you think, “*Meh, this is irrelevant…*” NO! Tell your doctor EVERYTHING!

So long as you provide a comprehensive medical history, you can rest assured that you’ll be in good hands.

there is an entire team of people in theatre whose whole job is monitoring the effect of the anaesthetic on you. they do the ‘something went catastrophically wrong with the anaesthetic’ thing in medical TV shows because it’s dramatic and exciting, but in reality (and especially in non emergency situations) it’s very rare for something to go wrong.

my experience was this: I was walked into theatre by one of the surgical team, who made light conversation with me throughout. my dressing gown, slippers, and glasses were all put in a plastic bag and labeled with my name – my other jewellery I’d removed earlier and left with my husband. I lay down on the table, and the anaesthesiologist checked my hands to see which had the better veins. he told me what he was doing before he did each thing – inserting a cannula, injecting the medication. I didn’t have to count backwards or anything. the last thing I remember is thinking, I feel really dizzy but not sleepy at all what happens if I don’t fall asle- and then I was out.

there’s no sensation of time passing like there normally is when you sleep. you probably won’t remember any dreams. you’ll start to wake up in recovery – that’s where they take you after surgery but before returning you to your room/ward, to make sure you get extra monitoring as you come around. my memories of recovery are very hazy, which is normal, you normally wake up a bit and then drift off again a few times.

afterwards your throat will probably hurt a lot, because once you’re out they put a tube down to help with keeping your breathing stable. they should remove it before you wake up. the weirdest immediate after effect for me was I couldn’t tell when my bladder was full, so I had to consciously remember to go for a wee even though it didn’t feel like I needed to.

it’s pretty normal to be nervous of the anaesthetic, I know I was, and the surgical team are used to it. they should explain everything to you and tell you they’re happy to answer any questions you have.

It’s normal to be nervous, but modern anesthetics are very safe when used properly, and there are people in the operating room whose only job is to ensure they’re being used properly.

I’ve been under before. But I can’t tell you what it feels like, because I don’t remember anything. I don’t even remember *nothing*. The doc asked me to count backwards from ten, I think I got to like six or something, and then I was in recovery and the surgery was over. It’s like the time in between just didn’t happen.

I have been under anesthesia a lot

Had stomach surgery and my tonsils got removed when I was 6 (two separate procedures)

Had open heart surgery when I was 20 which was the last of 6 separate procedures that year.

Had another heart surgery when I was 27

Had another stomach surgery when I was 28

Had numerous diagnostic procedures done over the years that needed general anesthesia (including last Thursday)

Generally i remember them injecting the medications, then I remember waking up as if no time passed.

The anesthesiologist should be actively monitoring your stats and they will probably put a tube down your throat to keep your airway from collapsing. You will probably be tired and likely have a sore throat, for a day or two after the surgery.

Nothing is ever completely safe, but I generally trust doctors to take risks into account when suggesting procedures that need general anesthesia.

Anaesthesia is not at all like being asleep, you are completely unconscious but again I have never had an issue, and I have been put under quite a few times.