englishman abroad, medical

My first experience of Anaesthesia

For several years, I have suffered from two healthcare issues. The first is heartburn, which flares up intermittently and causes me discomfort. The other has been cheap and shitty health insurance.

Nowadays, however, my health insurance is markedly better, and I decided (with some arm twisting from my wife) to get the heartburn problem looked at. As it had been several years, there was a possibility that I had developed stomach ulcers or other such issues. So off I went this morning (with my wife) to the gastroenterologist to have an endoscopy.

Firstly they sat me on the examination bed and talked me through the procedure. The nurse informed me that if I was prone to gagging, for example when brushing my teeth, that I should have anaesthesia. If I tried it without and gagged, they would have to cancel the procedure and make a new appointment. I opted for the general anaesthetic.

The nurse gave me an injection and fitted a pink, nozzle-like device into my arm. It seemed to be a one-way valve through which anaesthetic could flow, but not blood. Then, they had me lie in the recovery position on the bed, with a pillow for comfort.

“Oh shit,” I was thinking, “this is getting serious now.”

A doctor and another nurse entered the room. I was given a green plastic contraption, which looked a bit like a gum shield but with a hole in the centre, to bite on. My wife then left the room. As weird as this might sound, I was reminded of how Death Row prisoners go out in the USA. At this point, I started (figuratively of course) to shit myself. Was I going to wake up again? Fear is irrational like that.

I didn’t look at my arm, but they told me that they were administering the drugs.

The room seemed somehow brighter, but also blurry. What started as a flickering around the edge of my vision became a washed-out, far-away representation of the room.

I felt very relaxed. I was no longer worried about anything. I could not feel anything around me, including the gumshield in my mouth.

A nurse’s face swam into view.

“do you feel anything?”

“Yes, it feels good.”

I closed my eyes.

“Oh, that wasn’t quite ten minutes,” said the nurse, slightly surprised, alone with me in the room once more.

I had opened my eyes and sat up. From my perspective, absolutely no time had passed. Not a second. But I felt unbalanced and woozy. I felt very much as though I had had four glasses of excellent wine on an empty stomach; it was the feeling you have when you’ve had just slightly too much to drink.

The doctor saw me in the next room and informed me that everything was fine, though he had taken tissue samples and would be in touch if they were anomalous.

I had a short conversation with the doctor in which I know I asked him pertinent questions, and I know he answered them. However, due to the nature of anaesthetic, I can’t remember what the hell we talked about.

My wife drove me home, then I watched Rick and Morty.

Today was quite a good day.