Wednesday, February 14, 2007

On that operation table

For those of you who know me, you know that I recently underwent surgery to 'get those darn tonsils removed.' Not without reason, they were causing me a lot of trouble, they were. But the experience. Something I know that I do not wish to experience again in my life, and yet a truly out-of-this-world experience.

After a lot of debate on whether I should bother you with the details, my not-so-generous mind fell in favour of Bother. Got admitted on Friday night. Dingy little room, with a tiny little TV set, with bad reception. I had complained that my breathing was a little uneasy, so they put me on a nebuliser. I had a something strapped on that would only have otherwise been called an oxygen mask by me, except it was a nebuliser, and the mask was connected to a machine that when switched on, started emitting air no different (according to me) from the air outside of it. I was advised to breathe deeply from it for about 20 minutes. Then an IV to administer some medicine, and no food till after the operation. Also a sleeping pill, so I sleep well, despite potential worries.

The operation was scheduled the next morning at about 10. I was told I'd be moved in to the operation theatre at about 9.30. And I have to admit, as that time grew nearer, I really began to get scared. Once I was in the ICU in that green gown, that was as afraid as one could get. Felt nauseated, and actually vomitted a little bit of water, despite not having consumed anything for the last 12 hours. They then took me to the operation theatre. This is where the real experience began.

The anesthetist held up a mask to my face saying it was oxygen, and given his designation, I realised it was some form of anesthesia. The next thing I remember is being in some sort of dream state. There are voices around me, and the beeping of machinery. After a while of what was definitely a dream, I slowly became aware that I was being operated on. I remembered that I was getting ready for surgery, so this must be it, and this is not a dream. And then I could distinctly identify my surgeon's voice. Heard him say some things, but I heard only bits and pieces. Apparently I kept drifting in and out of this state of awareness. Fragments like "That is difficult" and "Remove it" I recall. It seems unbelievable, but I knew what was happening but couldn't do anything about it. I had also decided then to blog about the experience. I couldn't even lift a finger. My mouth felt open and I realised he'd put some sort of support to keep it open. Then the clanging of his instruments against my teeth. I felt a sort of tugging against the insides of my mouth and it got a little uncomfortable. I wondered if the dosage of anesthesia was a little lower than should have been, because it was leading me to be this aware. I wanted to tell them to give me some more, but again, I was helpless. Only the brain was working overtime, everything else had taken the day off by the looks of it. But my assumption was that I kept going back to dream state and then snapping out of it, I felt the need to remind myself that my operation was happening, and that I need to be aware of it. The whole experience made me thoroughly uncomfortable, especially the tugging in the mouth, and yet, I believe it was something. It reminded me of something I had read in one of Feynman's books in which he had described how he would be acutely aware of everything that was happening in the course of his dreams.

When it was over, the surgeon stopped tugging and I could feel some spraying of water in my mouth. He called out my name a couple of times, informed me that it was over. I think this was when they put me off the anesthesia, but I was still unable to react for a while, although I heard him loud and clear. Tried moving my fingers, and then it struck me how similar this was to the movies and recovering patients. After a few attempts, I did it, moved a finger, and was able to grunt out a response to the doctor. He asked me some more questions (Do you know who I am?) to which I replied, I suspect, in barely audible tones. Then I was moved to the ICU again, where I was in some sort of trance, and slowly realised I couldn't speak much and that my throat had begun to hurt terribly. Well its still hurting, 5 days later, now my ears hurt too, but I told my tale!

Also, for all those people who believe post-tonsillectomy is some sort of heaven where you're allowed to have all the ice creams and goodies that you want to, I have to let you know that its near-hell, the ice creams are forced down a throat that cannot swallow anything and it still hurts! And you'll soon become sick of eating it. The pain more than overshadows the taste. And 5 days later, I still haven't been able to consume anything without bearing a lot of pain. So there.