Alhumdullilah! My surgery was successful, as expected. Twenty-four hours later, I am much better, with very little pain, and able to type!
Just before administering anesthetic, the anesthesiologist will ask the patient to imagine him/herself in a relaxing, happy setting. My doctor told me the reason for this, and it’s not simply to make a little joke before surgery. According to my anesthesiologist, there is an approximate thirty-second window between wakefulness and full anesthetic stupor. The mental state of the patient during this very short time can help determine whether the patient has a smooth or a rocky post-anesthetic recovery. All patients have some degree of anxiety before surgery, but if they can conjure up a happy image just before konking out, they’ll wake up more easily and feel better during the immediate post-op recovery.
So, in the OR, my doctor said to me, “Now is the time I want you to think of a lovely place, a place in which you are happy and comfortable. Everything went all right. We’re finished. You are awake now.”
I was confused. I picked up the blanket with my left hand and was amazed to see my right forearm all bandaged nearly to the elbow!
I perceived his statements back to back, as if no time passed between them. In fact, the surgery took the exact forty-five minutes my surgeon had predicted. I felt great. In fact, I missed the little day dream I had prepared for myself, that of being at my daughter’s house, playing with my little grandchild. I hope I at least said, “Bismillah.”
Medical science does not know how anesthesia works at the molecular level. It’s more about consciousness than neurology. The topic has been bothering me all day.
Anesthesia is not like sleep. From sleep, you wake up knowing that some time has passed. You wake up feeling differently than you did upon going to sleep. You may remember a dream, or at least the sense that you did dream.
From anesthesia, you wake up before you know you’ve been gone. What happens? Where does consciousness go? The answers that suggest themselves are disturbing for someone like me, of little faith, and in need of proof.